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Friday, January 1, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

In 1684, a group of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who fled the Inquisition (see "Today in Jewish History" for Tevet 22) held a Rosh Hashanah service in New Amsterdam, thereby founding congregation Shearith Israel ("Remnant of Israel"). On this 17th of Tevet in 1728, the congregation purchased a lot in Lower Manhattan to erect the first synagogue in New York.

Rabbi Aaron Zelig ben Joel Feivush of Ostrog, Russia, author of Toldot Aaron, passed away on Tevet 17 of the year in 5515 from creation (1754).

Tevet 17 is also the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Yaakov Wolf Krantz (1740-1804), the Maggid (preacher) of Dubna, particularly known for the parables (meshalim) he employed in his sermons and writings.

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.