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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir of Ramerupt (1100?-1171), known as "Rabbeinu Tam", was a grandson of Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040-1105), and one of the primary authors of the Tosaphot commentary on the Talmud; the Bet-Din (rabbinical court) he headed was regarded as the leading Torah authority of his generation.

Links:
Rabbeinu Tam (Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir)

Rabbi Meir ben Baruch ("Maharam") of Rothenburg (1215?-1293), the great Talmudic commentator and leading Halachic authority for German Jewry, was imprisoned in the fortress at Ensisheim. A huge ransom was imposed for his release. The money was raised, but Rabbi Meir refused to allow it to be paid lest this encourage the further hostage taking of Jewish leaders. He died in captivity after seven years of imprisonment.

Link: Maharam (a brief biography)

Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz (1730-1805) was the rabbi of Frankfurt and the author of Sefer Hafla'ah and Sefer HaMikneh -- commentaries on the Talmud -- and Panim Yafot, an exegesis on the Torah. Rabbi Pinchas and his brother Rabbi Shmuel Shmelke of Nikolsburg (Mikulov) were students of the Mezritcher Maggid. They were amongst the first adherents to the Chassidic movement to hold rabbinic posts in Western Europe. The famed Rabbi Moshe Sofer, known as the Chatam Sofer, considered Rabbi Pinchas to be one of his main teachers.

Link: The Rabbi and the Ox

As a young man, R. Mendel Futerfas (1906–1995) studied in the underground network of Yeshivat Tomchei Temimim in Soviet Russia. He subsequently was given the task of obtaining the funds necessary to maintain the network of hidden classes, a mission fraught with danger of tremendous proportions. He later risked his life once again to oversee the clandestine escape of hundreds of Lubavitcher Chassidim from the U.S.S.R. via Lemberg in 1946.

As a result of these latter efforts, R. Mendel was caught and sent to work in the Siberian gulags for eight years. After finishing his sentence, he was denied exit from Russia for an additional eight years, until his request was finally granted in 1963. He lived in London and then in Kfar Chabad, Israel, until his passing.

R. Mendel was a legend in his time. His dedication to the sixth and seventh Lubavitcher Rebbes, R. Yosef Yitzchak and R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, were unsurpassed, as were the lengths he was ready to go to assist a fellow Jew. He was known for his sharp wit and humor, and his well-attended farbrengens were interspersed with life-lessons creatively deduced from his experiences in Siberia.

Links: A Cheder in Siberia; The Rabbi and the Thief; Tightrope of Life; Think of Me, and I’ll Think of You

Daily Thought

At Sinai, we declared, “We will do and we will understand!”

Angels descended from heaven and placed two crowns upon our heads.

One crown for “We will do.” The other for “We will understand.”

But that’s puzzling.

We were wise to accept the Torah even before we understood, to preface “we will do” to “we will understand.” Because we knew well the One who was giving us this Torah.

That gives us one crown. And the other?

The other is the crown to understanding.

Because if what you know has nothing to do with how you live, then you know nothing.

But when you commit to carrying out all that you learn, then your learning bears fruit and your understanding soars to a whole new level.