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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Tammuz 28 is the yahrzeit of Rabbi Moshe Teitelbaum (1759-1841) of Uhely, Hungary, author of Yismach Moshe and patriarch of the Hungarian Chassidic dynasties.

Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried (1804-1886) was born in Uzhhorod (Ungvar) in the Carpathian region of the Habsburg Empire (now Ukraine). When he was eight years old, Shlomo's father, Rabbi Yosef, passed way, and Ungvar's chief rabbi, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Heller, assumed legal guardianship of Shlomo. In 1830, he abandoned his work as a wine merchant and accepted the position of Rabbi of Brezovica (Brezevitz). In 1849, he returned to Ungvar to serve as a rabbinical judge. Realizing that the average Jew required a basic knowledge of practical halachah, Rabbi Ganzfried compiled the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, an abbreviated digest of Jewish law. To this day, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch remains a classic halachic work, and it has been translated into many languages.

In addition to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, he authored many works including Kesset HaSofer, a halachic primer for scribes, and Pnei Shlomo, a commentary on the Talmud.

Laws and Customs

During the Three Weeks, from 17th of Tamuz to the 9th of Av, we commemorate the conquest of Jerusalem, the destruction of the Holy Temple and the dispersion of the Jewish people.

Weddings and other joyful events are not held during this period; like mourners, we do not cut our hair, and various pleasurable activities are limited or proscribed. (The particular mourning customs vary from community to community, so consult a competent halachic authority for details.)

Citing the verse (Isaiah 1:27) "Zion shall be redeemed with mishpat [Torah] and its returnees with tzedakah," the Rebbe urged that we increase in Torah study (particularly the study of the laws of the Holy Temple) and charity during this period.

The Three Weeks

Daily Thought

If the universe were a dumb, cold accident, and life a meaningless, random accident of nature, then you and I and all that exist are prisoners of our past. Nothing makes sense, because nothing needs to make sense. Nothing improves, because nothing is going anywhere. On the contrary, all is entropy and decay.

But in truth a profound intelligence breathes within this creation. And what is intelligence if not a means by which the present is driven by a destiny that lies in the future?

It is a destiny to which every soul belongs, and to which all the universe flows relentlessly, as a mighty river headed from the mountains to the sea.

From our perspective trapped within time, we very rarely have a glimpse of that destiny as it approaches within every moment. It is, after all, a destiny entirely beyond anything our minds can conceive. And so, the journey is also beyond our comprehension.

But once attained, all the pain and struggle of every lifetime will be transformed, having discovered its divine meaning. We will finally see how every step along the way was another great leap forward, another unfolding of divine wisdom, and all was sweetness, all was good, the ultimate good.

Likutei Sichot, vol. 18, pg. 390 ff.