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Shabbat, July 4, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Tammuz 12 is the birthday the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch (1880-1950). This is also the day on which he was liberated from exile to the Soviet gulag 47 years later (see below).

Links:
A short biography
More on Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch

On the 12th of Tammuz of 1927, the sixth Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, was officially granted release from his sentence of exile to Kastroma in the interior of Russia.

Twenty-seven days earlier, the Rebbe had been arrested by agents of the GPU and the Yevsektzia ("Jewish Section" of the Communist Party) for his activities to preserve Judaism throughout the Soviet empire and sentenced to death, G-d forbid. International pressure forced the Soviets to commute the sentence to exile and, subsequently, to release him completely. The actual release took place on Tammuz 13, and Tammuz 12-13 is celebrated as a "festival of liberation" by the Chabad-Lubavitch community.

Tammuz 12 is also Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak's birthday (see above)

Links:
The Rebbe's Prison Diary
The Soviet war on Jewry

R. Jacob ben Asher, son of R. Asher ben Yechiel (the Rosh), was one of the most prominent Torah scholars in medieval Europe. His classic work on Jewish law, Arba’ah Turim (known also as Tur), covers every area of Jewish life (in the post-Temple era), presenting the various opinions of previous authorities along with the author’s own decisions. A host of commentaries were written on this work, including one by R. Yosef Caro and another by R. Moshe Isserlis. These two commentaries formed the basis for the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law), the definitive guide to Jewish observance until today.

R. Jacob also authored a popular commentary on the Torah, uncovering layers of hidden meaning in the text by way of gematria (and other close analysis of the texts).

Link: Rabbi Jacob ben Asher

Laws and Customs
In Chabad practice, the mournful paragraphs of Av Harachamim and Tzidkatecha Tzedek are omitted from the morning and afternoon prayers respectively.

During the summer months, from the Shabbat after Passover until the Shabbat before Rosh Hashahah, we study a weekly chapter of the Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers ("Avot") each Shabbat afternoon; this week we study Chapter Five.

Link: Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 5

Daily Thought

This is the impossible position He has put us in: The paradox of outrage.

We believe that at the core of reality there lies a G-d who is essentially good and cares for each one according to his or her needs, guiding each one to the right path, punishing wickedness and rewarding goodness in fair and equal measure. And so, over and over we are outraged--because what we experience flies in the face of this entire belief.

Yet, if we abandon either pole of the paradox, we might as well have never been born. If we learn to ignore the existence of the evil and the suffering, finding some justification for G-d or simply hiding our heads in the sand--then for what purpose were we placed in such a world? To leave it as we found it? And what kind of a G-d have our justifications created?

But if we should surrender our G-d, concluding that, "there is no Judge and therefore no justice"--then what value does my life have? What value does any life have? And what, then, is the point of all the outrage?

This is the drama created by a G-d entirely beyond any form of understanding--a drama powered by the agonizing tension of paradox.

They asked the Baal Shem Tov: "The Talmud tells usChulin 109b. that for every thing G-d forbade, He provided us something permissible of the same sort. He forbade us to eat blood and permitted the liver. He forbade milk and meat and permitted the cow's udder. If so, what did He permit that corresponds to the sin of heresy?"

The Baal Shem Tov replied: "Acts of kindness."Pardes Yosef, Terumah, chapter 25.

Because when you see a person suffering, you don't say, "G-d runs the universe. G-d will take care. G-d knows what is best." You do everything in your power to relieve that suffering as though there is no G-d. You become a heretic in G-d's name.