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Monday, 14 Tammuz, 5780

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

After the postilion (coach driver) of the governor killed the four-year-old son of a councilor, charges were lodged against a Jew named Michael Vinelmann, a former resident of Basel, alleging that he had promised the murderer three gulden for the blood of the child. The murderer was broken on the wheel, and the Jew burned alive without trial.

Shortly before, a similar accusation had been brought against the Jews of Schaffhausen and been successfully refuted. When news of Michael Vinelmann's fate was brought to Schaffhausen, several of the Jews of the city fled and were soon captured. They were taken back to Schaffhausen, where they were thrown into a dungeon and terribly tortured. Unable to endure the pain, they "confessed" to the crime of which they had been accused, whereupon all the Jews living in Schaffhausen were condemned to death. Thirty Jews were burned alive. Four weeks later, eighteen men and women died at the stake in Winterthur in a similar context.

Rabbi Yosef Trani, known as the Maharit (1568-1639), was born in Safed and married a descendant of Rabbi Yosef Cairo. When a plague broke out in Safed, he abandoned the city, but returned in 1594 to head a yeshivah. In 1604, he was appointed rabbi of Constantinople and, a few years later, leader of Turkish Jewry. He is renowned for his responsa published under the title Teshuvot Maharit.

Daily Thought

Torah has no concept of prison as a punishment. Why?

Because prison is a futile place.

A place where you are told,
“You will continue to age, but you must not take charge of your life.”

“You must be here, but you must not change what this place is.”

“You will live, but you must not give life.”

“You will keep your head down. While you are here, you are somewhat less than a human being.”

But you are a living human being, the divine image in this world.
You are here to take charge of your life,
to make change in the world,
to give life to others.

We cannot make you a better person by robbing you of that divine image.

But we can lift you up by treating you with the respect and dignity that every sacred human life upon this earth deserves.

We can make this no longer a futile place.

18 Elul 5710:3; Purim 5736:4; Tzav 5736: 2.