ב"ה
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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

The grand 180-day feast hosted by King Achashverosh came to an end on this day.

Achasverosh miscalculated the start date of Jeremiah's prophecy which promised the rebuilding of the Holy Temple after 70 years of Babylonian exile. When, according to his calculations, the seventy years had passed and the Jews were not redeemed, he orchestrated this grand party to celebrate the "demise" of the Chosen Nation. During the course of the party he brazenly displayed many of the vessels looted from the Holy Temple by the Babylonian armies.

Links:
Esther 1 (For a vivid description of the feast.)
The Royal Feast

The Jewish community of York, England, consisting of 150 souls, was massacred by a bloodthirsty mob. Among the martyrs was the Talmudic scholar R. Yom Tov of Joigny.

Link: Why Do They Want to Kill Us?

Laws and Customs

In today's "Nasi" reading (see "Nasi of the Day" in Nissan 1), we read of the gift bought by the nasi of the tribe of Menasseh, Gamliel ben Pedahtzur, for the inauguration of the Mishkan.

Text of today's Nasi in Hebrew and English.

Daily Thought

Rabbi Alexandri said, “Master of the Universe! It’s obvious to You that we want to do what You want done. So what is holding us back? The yeast in the dough!” (Talmud, Berachot 17a)

What is so terrible about chametz, that once a year, for the Festival of Freedom, we must search, burn and destroy any trace of it in our possession?

Because yeast makes a little dough into a big loaf of hot air. And that pretty much describes the fundamental gameplay of all that imprisons you.

It's like the yeast that takes your healthy need to earn an honest living and blows it up into a desperate need for recognition and yet more recognition.

Or like the yeast that mixes in when you are about to do a beautiful mitzvah out of the sincerity of your heart, saying, “Yes! Do it! People will say you are such a tzadik!”

Or the yeast that appears when you are studying the wisdom of Torah and it whispers, “Soon you will be wiser than anyone else!”

It’s that yeast that ties every thought, every word, every deed you do to your ego, as though your existence is somehow invalidated if you do not occupy more and more space every day—with nothing but hot air.

You are its prisoner. It is your taskmaster. It has stolen your life from you, rendering you just another subject of an oppressive world you must satisfy and please.

On Passover, you are empowered to break your chains of bondage. To do a mitzvah only because it connects you to your G-d. To learn Torah wisdom only to become one with divine wisdom. To be yourself. To escape bondage to anything in this world. To be free.

And you begin by ritually eradicating a physical manifestation of that ego from our world. By selling and burning our chametz, we are empowered to set ourselves free.