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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Chof Kislev - "Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism"
Jewish History

Ezra, head of the Sanhedrin and the leader of the Jewish people at the time of the building of the Second Temple, made an historic address to a three-day assemblage of Jews in Jerusalem, exhorting them to adhere to the teachings of the Torah and to dissolve their interfaith marriages (the Jewish people were on the verge of complete assimilation at the time, following their 70-year exile in Babylonia).

Links: On Intermarriage

The first printing of the "bible of Chassidism", the Tanya, the magnum opus of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad.

Links: The Longer Shorter Way; Lessons in Tanya (includes an English translation of the Hebrew text plus explanatory commentary in English)

Laws and Customs

The Rosh Hashanah ("new year") of Chassidism, marking the liberation of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi and the subsequent blossoming of Chabad Chassidism, is celebrated for two days, Kislev 19-20. (The Rebbe was released from prison on the 19th, but his full freedom was only obtained late in the evening -- Kislev 20 on the Jewish Calendar.) The two days are celebrated with farbrengens (Chassidic gatherings) and an increased commitment to the ways and teachings of Chassidism. Tachnun (supplication) and similar prayers are omitted. For more information and links, see entries for yesterday Kislev 19.

In Chabad practice, Tachanun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted today.
Daily Thought

“Why was the human being created as an individual? To teach you that one who destroys a single human life is as though he has destroyed an entire world. And one who saves a single human life is as though he has saved an entire world.”
—Mishnah, Sanhedrin 4:5.

Simple arithmetic does not apply when dealing with human lives. Each individual equals an entire world.

The Talmud provides a practical application:

A caravan traveling on the road is accosted by strangers who tell them, “Give us one of you and we will kill him, and if you refuse, we will kill all of you.”

Ignoring the math, the Talmud rules: Even if all of them will be killed, they must not hand over a single soul.

Why? Because each human life contains at its core the very essence of G‑d. As G‑d is infinite, so the value of a human life.

And one infinity is not any less than a hundred, a thousand, or even eight billion infinities.

Reshimot 123. For further elucidation, see How Each of Us Contains All of Us.