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Monday, 25 Tammuz, 5781

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Aharon Berachia ben Moshe of Modina (? - 1639) was an Italian Kabbalist and a student of Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Fano. At the request of the Burial Society at Mantua, he instituted rites for them. The author of many Kabbalistic works, he is perhaps best known for his work Ma'abar Yabbok, which contains mystical dissertations on purity and holiness. He also wrote additional prayers to be offered for the sick and the dead, as well as a code of conduct for their treatment. Many of the prayers recited at the gravesites of the deceased were composed by him.

Tradition has it that an angel called a "maggid" would come and study with him, similar to the angel that would visit Rabbi Yosef Caro.

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

For each thing that exists in time and space, says the ancient Book of Formation, there is a place within the human soul.

The seven nations that occupied Canaan exist within the human soul. They are the seven raw emotional modalities that every human being must conquer and transform—such as selfishness, anger, impatience and jealousy.

But before entering Canaan, the Israelites first had to battle with Midian.

Midian is the place in the human soul where there is no room for another. It is not rational, nor can it be reasoned with.

The holy Zohar connects Midian to the word “madon”—a quarrel. Midian is the womb of all quarrels, disputes, divisiveness and intolerance—the diametric opposite of the realm of holiness where all is oneness and harmony.

Midian sits at the core-essence of every maladaptive human quality. So that, once it is conquered, all the rest of a person’s character is opened to transformation.

But how can an unbounded irrationality be conquered?

The master Kabbalist, the Ari, taught that there is a holy Midian as well. It is the place in the human soul of unconditional love, love that has no reason other than it is divine to love one another.

With unconditional love, irrational hatred is conquered and transformed.

When human beings will treat one another with love, and respect their differences of opinion, all other ills will surrender before us.

Maamar Hechaltzu 5659, chapter 3.