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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Born in Jerusalem in 1689 (5449?), Yaakov Culi moved to Constantinople, Turkey, where he found adequate facilities and financial backing to publish the scholarly output of his learned grandfather, Rabbi Moses ibn Habib, including classics such as Get Pashut and Ezrat Nashim.

The brilliant young scholar quickly came to the attention of the chief rabbi of Constantinople, Yehuda Rosanes, the undisputed leader of Sephardic Jewry at the time, and he was appointed to the beth din (rabbinical court).

Upon the passing of Rosanes, Rabbi Yaakov edited and published his late teacher’s writings with his own additional glosses: Mishneh Lamelech on Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah and Perishat Derachim.


Toward the end of his own short life, Rabbi Culi began work on the Mea’am Loez, a compendium of rabbinic lore and commentary on all books of Scriptures. He wrote in Ladino, then the common language of the Sephardic diaspora.

Unfortunately, he never completed his project and passed away on 19th Av, 5492 (1732), having only completed the book Genesis and most of Exodus. However, subsequent scholars used his extensive notes to finish the work. Popular to this day, the Mea’am Loez has been translated into many languages, including Hebrew, English, and even Arabic.

Daily Thought

“Today” (appearing 74 times in Moses’ words in Deuteronomy)

And what happens if I keep these mitzvahs because of yesterday? Because they are the traditions of my forefathers, and therefore I cherish them?

Or if I keep these mitzvahs because of tomorrow—so that I will achieve spiritual heights, arrive after this life in a lofty Garden of Eden, revisit this world renewed as the World To Come?

Then I am a blind fool, a willing captive of a passing dream. A sheep that surrenders in silence as they shear its wool.

In a mitzvah right now, I hold the ultimate experience of truth, of life, of G‑d Himself in my hands—and I look to the past or to the future, to what I can get out of this?!

Maamar Tzion Bamishpat 5736.