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Thursday, July 28, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known as "Rashi", passed away on the 29th of Tammuz of the year 4865 from creation (1105 CE).

Rashi was born in Troyes, France, in 1040. His commentaries on the Torah, Prophets and Talmud are universally accepted as the most basic tool for the understanding of these texts for schoolchild and scholar alike. Numerous commentaries have been authored on his commentary. In his famed "Rashi talks", the Lubavitcher Rebbe repeatedly demonstrated how Rashi's "simple meaning of the text" style enfolds many layers of meaning, often resolving profound difficulties in the text and presenting new, innovative interpretations with a simple word choice or rephrasing of a Midrashic passage.

Links:
A brief biography (from "Gallery of Our Great")
Text of Rashi's commentary on this week's Torah reading (English translation)
An analysis of a section of Rashi's commentary by the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Laws and Customs
Starting in the afternoon, Tachanun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted.

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.

Links:
The Three Weeks

Daily Thought

The First Temple, why was it destroyed? Because of idolatry, murder and adultery.

The Second Temple, when they were occupied in studying Torah, doing mitzvahs, and acts of loving-kindness, why was it destroyed?

Because there were those who were intolerant of others without cause. Which teaches us that senseless intolerance is equal to idolatry, murder and adultery combined. (Talmud Yoma 9b.)

There is no sin of senseless intolerance listed in Torah. And yet, while the cardinal sins of Torah demanded only 70 years of exile, intolerance is so sinister, so powerful, it can take us almost two thousand years to heal from its wounds.

In simple terms, it’s much easier to deal with obvious, open failures and repair them. Intolerance, however, comes concealed beneath layers of justifications and self-righteousness. When you don’t believe you’ve done anything wrong, and on the contrary, that you were fighting a holy war, it’s hard to make up for all the damage caused.

Yet there is a deeper reason: Other sins, even the most heinous sins, are symptoms of flaws in the human person. To repair those flaws, each of us is granted 70 years upon this earth—ten years for each of the seven categories of emotions.

But intolerance of the other lies at the primal genesis of evil, at the point of fissure and subsequent fragmentation that occurred in the earliest stages of creation, as the universe lost contact with the infinite divine light that preceded it.

Because it is embedded so close to the core of our reality, it can attack the core of the human psyche, chochmah, the seminal point of reason.

That is why its antidote must also transcend reason. It must be related to the primordial infinite light itself, a light that knows no bounds. The key to healing humanity is therefore unreasonable.

Which means that with a single unpredictable and unconditional act of one human caring for another, connecting with another, especially another he feels he cannot tolerate, the whole of creation is healed and fulfilled.

Likutei Torah, Matot 86a, 88b.