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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

The Torah describes four ways you might be responsible for another person’s property: You might be a borrower, a renter, a paid custodian, or an unpaid custodian.

The borrower has near-total liability. The renter and the paid custodian are liable only in cases of negligence. An unpaid custodian is only liable if he abandons his duties or uses the property for himself.

These are the four options you have when entrusted with a life on Planet Earth:

You could take it as just borrowed time to do whatever you like with life and the planet.

Your Maker will say, “Fine, have it your way. I’m not involved, and any damage is your responsibility.”

Just as a borrower takes upon himself all liability.

Or you could work out a contract with your Maker, as in, “You do this for me and I’ll do that for you.” You could be either a renter or a paid custodian.

Your Maker will say, “It’s a deal. I’ll help you out. But if you don’t keep your half of the deal, I won’t be able to keep Mine.”

Just as a renter or a paid custodian takes partial responsibility.

Or you could recognize that all you have belongs to the One Above and your entire life’s meaning is as His agent.

You are the unpaid, faithful steward of life. You do whatever you can, and He will take complete responsibility for all your needs and all your life.

Likutei Sichot vol. 31, pg. 112, as per Shnei Luchot HaBrit.