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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Methuselah, the longest-lived human being of all time, died at the age of 969 years on the 11th of Cheshvan of the year 1656 from creation (2105 BCE) -- exactly seven days before the beginning of the Great Flood. Methuselah was Adam's great-great-great-great-great-grandson and Noah's grandfather.

The matriarch Rachel died in childbirth on the 11th of Cheshvan of the year 2208 from creation (1553 BCE) while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin.

Rachel was born in Aram (Mesopotamia) approximately 1585 BCE. Her father was Laban, the brother of Jacob's mother, Rebecca. Jacob came to Laban's home in 1576 BCE, fleeing the wrath of his brother Esau. He fell in love with Rachel and worked for seven years tending Laban's sheep in return for her hand in marriage. But Laban deceived his nephew, and on the morning after the wedding Jacob discovered that he had married Rachel's elder sister, Leah. Laban agreed to give him Rachel as a wife as well in return for another seven years' labor.

Rachel was childless for many years, while her elder sister and rival gave birth to six sons and a daughter in succession. Finally, in 1562 BCE, she gave birth to Joseph. Nine years later, while Jacob and his family were on the road to Jacob's ancestral home in Hebron (after a 22-year absence), she gave birth to a second son, but died in childbirth. Jacob buried her by the roadside, in Bethlehem; there, "Rachel weeps over her children, for they are gone [in exile]" (Jeremiah 31:14). Her tomb has served as a place of prayer for Jews for more than 35 centuries.

Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl was a disciple of the second leader of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch, and the founder of the Chernobyl dynasty of Chassidic Rebbes.

Daily Thought

The life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years, the years of the life of Sarah. (Genesis 23:1)

All of them were equally good. (Rashi)

In which direction does your life move?
To wherever you have placed its arrow.

When your arrow points forever backward, always blaming the present on the past and scripting the future accordingly, then there is nothing but accumulated pain. What makes the story worth its struggle?

But if your arrow points forward to an unfolding destiny, a grand story of an eternal people and a world approaching its perfection, then every pain becomes the cracking of a shell, every struggle the shedding of a cocoon, as an olive releasing its oil to the press, a seedling breaking its path through rock and soil to reach the sun. What is the pain relative to the promise it holds?

And so Sarah looked back after 127 years, and all her days, even the darkest, the weariest, even those when she was held a prisoner in the depths of evil of Pharaoh’s palace—all were good and filled with beauty.

All the pain was worthwhile, truly pleasureful, to become who she was, the mother of us all.

Likkutei Sichot, vol. 5, p. 92.