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Monday, June 14, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir of Ramerupt (1100?-1171), known as "Rabbeinu Tam", was a grandson of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105), and one of the primary authors of the Tosaphot commentary on the Talmud; the Bet-Din (rabbinical court) he headed was regarded as the leading Torah authority of his generation.

Links:
Rabbeinu Tam (Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir)

Rabbi Meir ben Baruch ("Maharam") of Rothenburg (1215?-1293), the great Talmudic commentator and leading Halachic authority for German Jewry, was imprisoned in the fortress at Ensisheim. A huge ransom was imposed for his release. The money was raised, but Rabbi Meir refused to allow it to be paid lest this encourage the further hostage taking of Jewish leaders. He died in captivity after seven years of imprisonment.

Link: Maharam (a brief biography)

As a young man, R. Mendel Futerfas (1906–1995) studied in the underground network of Yeshivat Tomchei Temimim in Soviet Russia. He subsequently was given the task of obtaining the funds necessary to maintain the network of hidden classes, a mission fraught with danger of tremendous proportions. He later risked his life once again to oversee the clandestine escape of hundreds of Lubavitcher Chassidim from the U.S.S.R. via Lemberg in 1946.

As a result of these latter efforts, R. Mendel was caught and sent to work in the Siberian gulags for eight years. After finishing his sentence, he was denied exit from Russia for an additional eight years, until his request was finally granted in 1963. He lived in London and then in Brooklyn until his passing.

R. Mendel was a legend in his time. His dedication to the sixth and seventh Lubavitcher Rebbes, R. Yosef Yitzchak and R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, were unsurpassed, as were the lengths he was ready to go to assist a fellow Jew. He was known for his sharp wit and humor, and his well-attended farbrengens were interspersed with life-lessons creatively deduced from his experiences in Siberia.

Links: A Cheder in Siberia; The Rabbi and the Thief; Tightrope of Life; Think of Me, and I’ll Think of You

Daily Thought

It is a love more fierce than death…its coals burn with the fire of a divine flame. The mightiest oceans are incapable of extinguishing this love, and rivers cannot wash it away.
—Song of Songs 8:6–7.

Deep within the human soul burns an intense love, a yearning to reunite with the Infinite Light from which it emerged.

The flood of anxieties that fill this world are incapable of inundating that love. The rapid rivers of the busiest, noisiest life cannot wash it away.

Because it is not a flame lit by human hands, not a love born of human imagination. It is an innate love, divinely forged, a love that lies at the very essence. For all this world was only made to serve this love, to fall into the harmony of its spell.

Ride above the waves. Surround yourself with an ark of divine wisdom and precious deeds, and let the flood of waters carry you high.

That flame will burst into a brilliant fire. For all the challenges it has faced will have rendered it that much greater.

Mayim Rabim 5738