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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Tevet 5 is celebrated as a day of rejoicing in the Chabad-Lubavitch community. On this date in 1987, U.S. Federal Court issued a decision in favor of Agudas Chassidei Chabad ("Union of Chabad Chassidim") regarding the ownership of the priceless library of the 6th Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn. The ruling was based on the idea that a Rebbe is not a private individual but a communal figure synonymous with the body of Chassidim. The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak's son-in-law and successor) urged that the occasion be marked with time devoted to study from Torah books ("sefarim") as well as the acquisition of new Torah books.

Learn more about Hey Tevet
Watch: A Movement on Trial
The Rebbe's Library

In 434 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded Judea, exiling King Jehoiachin and thousands of Judean notables to Babylon. Eleven years later, the Nebuchadnezzar’s army invaded Jerusalem again, setting fire to the Temple and massacring its inhabitants. The tragic news reached the Babylonian exiles five months later, on 5 Teves 422 BCE (Ezekiel 33:21). According to a minority opinion, this day is commemorated as a fast day (Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 18b).

Link: The Destruction of the First Holy Temple

Shlomo was raised as a Marrano and served at the royal court in Lisbon, Portugal. When the enigmatic David HaReuveini appeared in Portugal, claiming to hail from the Ten Lost Tribes, Shlomo was inspired to return to Judaism. So as not to be indicted by the Inquisition for abandoning Christianity, R. Shlomo traveled to Salonica, Turkey, and then to Safed, Israel, where he delved into the intricacies of Kabbalah. Sadly, the Inquisition caught up to him and he was given the choice of accepting Christianity or being burned at the stake. R. Shlomo chose the latter, and he was killed in Mantua, Italy, meriting to sanctify G‑d’s name.

Link: Is a Jew Required to Die Rather than Disobey a Torah Command?

Daily Thought

As the world came into being, so did compassion. It may be the most vital element in our world—because it allows everything to keep chugging along while so loosely strung together, enduring so perfectly in its imperfection.

Without compassion, the sages say, our world could not stand. Because with compassion comes forgiveness, and only a world that is allowed to stumble can stand on its own feet.

A world of perfection—a world that follows precisely every dictate from Above—is like a fetus that has never left its womb. In what way is it a world? In what way is it real?

A real world is one whose creatures can pass or can fail, or blunder about until they eventually beat their path to the truth.

“And such a world,” says its Creator, “is worth My compassion and My forgiveness.”