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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

By order of King James I of Aragon (Spain), Nachmanides (Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, 1194-1270) was compelled to participate in a public debate, held in the king's presence, against the Jewish convert to Christianity, Pablo Christiani. His brilliant defense of Judaism and refutations of Christianity's claims served as the basis of many such future disputations through the generations.

Because his victory was an insult to the king's religion, Nachmanides was forced to flee Spain. He came to Jerusalem, where he found just a handful of Jewish families living in abject poverty, and revived the Jewish community there. The synagogue he built in the Old City is in use today, and is perhaps the oldest standing synagogue in the world.

On this date in 1940, the building at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York was purchased by Agudas Chassidei Chabad (the Chabad-Lubavitch community) to house the living quarters, study and office, Yeshivah, and synagogue of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), who had arrived in New York (following his rescue from Nazi-occupied Warsaw) five months earlier. It also served as the headquarters of his son-in-law and successor, the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, and continues to be the center of Chabad-Lubavitch's global network of institutions of Jewish education and outreach.

Daily Thought

Rosh Hashanah, the Baal Shem Tov taught, is a game of hide and seek. G‑d hides, we seek.

But where can G‑d hide? Wherever you go, there He is. As the Zohar says, “There is no place void of Him.”

Rather, what the Baal Shem Tov meant is more like peek-a-boo—when parents hides behind their own fingers. So too, G‑d hides Himself within the guise of an awesome, indifferent king, judging His subjects strictly by the book until the most sublime angels shiver in dread.

And we seek. We seek the father behind the stern voice. We are the small child who climbs into the king’s arms, tears off the mask and exclaim, “Daddy!”

Which is just what He was waiting for.