Get the best of Chabad.org content every week!
Find answers to fascinating Jewish questions, enjoy holiday tips and guides, read real-life stories and more!
ב"ה
To view Shabbat Times click here to set your location

Monday, March 7, 2022

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

The tragic saga of the imprisonment of Rabbi Meir ben Baruch ("Maharam") of Rothenburg came to a close when his body was ransomed, 14 years after his death, by Alexander ben Shlomo (Susskind) Wimpen.

"Maharam" (1215?-1293) was the leading Torah authority in Germany, and authored thousands of Halachic responsa as well as the Tosaphot commentary of the Talmudic tractate Yoma. In 1283 he was imprisoned in the Ensisheim fortress and held for a huge ransom, but he forbade the Jewish community to pay it (based on the Talmudic ruling that exorbitant sums should not be paid to free captives, as this would encourage the taking of hostages for ransom). For many years Maharam's disciple, R. Shimon ben Tzadok, was allowed to visit him in his cell and recorded his teachings in a work called Tashbetz.

Even after the Maharam's passing in 1293, his body was not released for burial until it was ransomed by R. Alexander, who was subsequently laid to rest at his side.

Links: A brief biography

Adar 4 is the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Rabbi Leib Sarah's (1730-1791), a disciple of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. One of the "hidden tzaddikim," Rabbi Leib spent his life wandering from place to place to raise money for the ransoming of imprisoned Jews and the support of other hidden tzaddikim.

Link: More on R. Leib Sarah's

In 1555, Pope Paul IV segregated the Jews of Rome in a walled quarter surrounded by gates that were locked at night. The ghettoed Jews were then subjected to various forms of degradation as well as restrictions on their personal freedoms.

During the French Revolution, Italy was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte. On the 4th of Adar (Tuesday, February 20, 1798) the Ghetto was legally abolished. It was reinstated, however, as soon as the Papacy regained control.

Daily Thought

“Nothing bad descends from Above.” -R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi

In essence, all is good. There is nothing truly bad. In the Creator’s conception, every creature and everything that happens to every creature—all is sweet fruit from Eden.

But when that goodness emerges from G‑d’s thought and plays itself out on the stage of our earthly lives, it often looks really awful. Indeed, the most precious gifts of a lifetime tend to enter in the most life-disrupting ways.

Think of the screech that came out of your flute when you tried to play a high, sweet note. Or the jarring mess when you attempted a nice riff on your guitar. When you’re starting off, all the best stuff keeps coming out as noise.

In some faintly similar way, so too with life: The sweeter heaven’s blessings, the more they might taste like bitter curses.

Like well-intended words repeated in the wrong way to the wrong person at the wrong time—all context lost, all meaning completely inverted—so too, the warmest kisses from heaven can slap against your cheek like freezing rain.

Such is the order of heaven and earth in its present, unfinished stage. Ideas that look fantastic to the heavenly host make their landing here on earth with the most disastrous implementation. And it’s mostly because our world lacks a landing pad anywhere near large enough for such blinding conceptions.

The avenues of our hearts are too constricted, our neuropathways too tightly set and fixed. And our vision oh so strained that we can’t see beyond just the things we want and the acquirements that enslave us. Our entire world has simply not been tuned to receive divine goodness.

We inhabit a world of cacophony begging to be rearranged into music, words yearning to speak their true meaning, scenery just waiting to be moved into place—until all that occurs below will attain magnificent harmony with its origin above.

And how do we allow that to happen? Mostly by allowing ourselves to believe it’s already there.

You’ve likely heard the story of the recalcitrant child who turns out good because someone really believed in that kid. As art emerges from the hands of those who believe in art, kindness from hearts that believe in kindness, and science from minds who trust there is an explanation.

So too, a dark and bitter chapter of life is reframed into a higher context, redeemed, and revealed in all its glorious, delicious splendor by a soul that trusts that G‑d is good, and G‑d is One.

No matter how things may appear.

Open your mind, open your heart. Trust that all is good, and it will be good. Good beyond anything you could possibly imagine, but down to earth good.

Extracted from the last two lines of Igeret Hakodesh 11.