ב"ה
To view Shabbat Times click here to set your location

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
To view Halachic Times click here to set your location
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.

Links:
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 hidden Jew 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

The core of a Jew is wrapped up in the six words of the Sh'ma Israel.

Very roughly, and at great compromise to the richness of each word, it says, "A Jew must contemplate: G‑d—who is our G‑d—that G‑d is One."

Meaning: Not simply that there is only one G‑d, but that this oneness of G‑d is such that nothing—not the heavens, not the earth, and not even all the vast wonders they contain—nothing at all exists outside the perfect Oneness that transcends and encompasses all things.

But then, it only takes two Hebrew words to say that G‑d is one. Why do we need six?

Because at this point you must turn your ear inward. And from there you will hear that this Oneness is not a knowledge you learned from your teachers, discerned from your observations, or intuited out of your sense of wonder.

No—this sense of Oneness is yours because it is the furnace that burns within the powerhouse of your soul, the oxygen that breathes within every facet of your being, the unstoppable current that drives every movement of your life. It is within you, at your very core.

The knowledge, the tradition, the contemplation—all this is vital and necessary: To awaken within you that which you knew before you were born.

And so:

Sh'ma: Learn, contemplate, grasp, and then listen deep inside…

Yisrael:...innermost of my soul, for whom this is the absolute reality…

A-do-nai:...(focus when saying this name upon the written but unspeakable name of) the One who transcends time, space, and all dualities…

E-lo-hei-nu:...know that this is the very same One who breathes within the essence of my soul, who belongs to me more than anything possession I own, more than my hand and heart belong to me, granted to me as an irrevocable gift, and therefore I know that…

A-do-nai:...the power that sustains all being…

Echad:...is absolutely One. In the heavens above and on the earth below, there is nothing else.

Contemplate this, and how could you not be filled with love, with a yearning that consumes heart and soul, to bond with that Oneness in every mitzvah you do, every word of Torah you speak, every thought and every action of your day?

Likutei Torah, Drushim L’Rosh Hashanah 62d.