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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Hashmonean King Alexander-Yannai (Jannaeus), an avowed enemy of the Jewish sages, died on this date. So great was his cruelty and the ruthlessness with which he persecuted the Sages and those loyal to them (some 50,000 were killed in the years 82-76 BCE), that the day of his death was declared a holiday.

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King Yannai

On this day, Shevat 2 (January 14, 1793), a frenzied mob gathered around the Jewish ghetto of Rome with the intention of setting it on fire. Miraculously, heavy rains began to fall, and it became impossible for the bloodthirsty horde to carry out their plans, thus saving the homes and lives of the Jews from destruction. Every year, that day, also known as Moed di Piombo (“Holiday of Gray [Clouds]”), has been celebrated as a day of thanksgiving by the Jews of Rome.

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Other "Purims"

Shevat 2 is the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Chassidic Master Rabbi Meshulam Zusha of Anipoli (1718?-1800), a disciple of the 2nd leader of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch.

Despite Rabbi Zusha's erudition and great piety, he was distinguished by his self-effacement and simple ways. A characteristic saying of his goes: "If it were offered to me to exchange places with Abraham our Father, I would refuse. What would G-d gain from this? He'd still have one Zusha and one Abraham..." His colleagues said of him that he was literally incapable of seeing anything negative in a fellow Jew.

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More about Rabbi Zusha

Daily Thought

In the month of Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah, a signal goes out to every Jewish soul that it is time to return to the palace that is home.

It is a signal both subtle and loud.

Subtle, because it does not awaken even those who are closest—every soul must awaken itself. Loud, because it reaches those who have been thrown to the edge of the universe.

Loud, because it is a signal of love and joy. Subtle, because it is an intimately personal call.

Loud, because it provides immeasurable powers to break out of whatever holds you back, lift you above all obstacles, and carry you all the way home. Subtle, because the power is there, but latent, quiet, awaiting your determination.

How can a signal be both subtle and loud, joyful and intimate, empowering and latent?

Because this signal originates from the very origin of your own soul, that place from which your soul was torn but has never truly abandoned. And as distant as a soul may stray, as lost as she may be, she will always remain one with her Beloved.

And now she hears her Beloved call, from a place deep within herself.

Maamar Ani L’dodi 5726.