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ב"ה
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Friday, August 5, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Nine Days
Jewish History

The Spies dispatched 40 days earlier by Moses to tour the Promised Land return to Israel's encampment in the desert, bearing a huge cluster of grapes and other lush fruits. But even as they praise the land's fertility, they terrify the people with tales of mighty giant warriors dwelling there and assert that the land is unconquerable.

Links:
Generation Gap
The Spies

Fighting breaks out inside the besieged city of Jerusalem between Jewish factions divided on the question of whether or not to fight the Roman armies encircling the city from without. One group sets fire to the city's considerable food stores, consigning its population to starvation until the fall of Jerusalem three years later.

Laws and Customs

During the “Nine Days" from Av 1st to the Ninth of Av, we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. We abstain from meat and wine, music, haircutting, bathing for pleasure, and other joyous (and dangerous) activities. (The particular mourning customs vary from community to community, so consult a competent halachic authority for details.)

Consumption of meat and wine is permitted on Shabbat, or at a seudat mitzvah (obligatory festive meal celebrating the fulfillment of certain mitzvot) such as a brit (circumcision), or a siyum celebrating the completion of a course of Torah study (i.e., a complete Talmudic tractate). The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory initiated the custom of conducting or participating in a siyum on each of the Nine Days (even if one does not avail oneself of the dispensation to eat meat).

Citing the verse "Zion shall be redeemed with mishpat [Torah] and its returnees with tzedakah," (Isaiah 1:27) the Rebbe urged that we increase in Torah study (particularly the study of the laws of the Holy Temple) and charity during this period.

Links:
Nine Days laws and customs
Daily live siyum broadcasts
Learn about the Holy Temple in Jerusalem

Daily Thought

When Torah first entered our universe through its portal on Mount Sinai, its first word was an Egyptian word: “Anochi,” meaning “I.”

And indeed, when the angels claimed that Torah belonged in their ethereal domain, Moses demanded of them, “Did you descend to Egypt? Did you set your bloody hands to form a brick from straw and clay? Have you felt the sting of a taskmaster’s whip upon your sunburnt back? How could you have Torah?”

For to have Torah is to have G-d raw.

Not G‑d as an idea for the mind to grasp, not G-d as a transcendent spirit for the soul to find. No, G-d as He is beyond any description or name. As He is simply “I.”

And where will you grasp that I?

In the Egypt of life into which you were cast from birth. In your daily struggle to preserve your integrity, to save your soul from drowning in a world that no one can explain, where G-d appears at times entirely absent.

He is there. His “I” is there. And you will find Him there, as you bring Torah into that place.

“There is one short chapter of only a few words,” teaches the Talmud, “and upon it hangs the entire Torah.”

“In all your ways, know Him.”

In your ways, in your personal Egypt. Know Him—He who is beyond all knowing.

Likutei Sichot vol. 3, Yitro.