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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

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

The Ari, the greatest of the kabbalists, taught that the prerequisite for the creation of the cosmos was a complete and utter withdrawal of the primordial infinite light. Only then could a finite trickle of light return to generate and sustain a universe.

All the light was withdrawn. There is no information, no revelation, no enlightenment, but for an infinitesimal afterglow attainable to those who toil for a lifetime.

But the origin of light, the essential core of reality—that was never withdrawn. It is always accessible, everywhere, at all times, to all beings, in all things.

What do we call that essential reality?

We call it “You.”

Torah Ohr, Parshat Vayera. Sefer Hakuntreisim Vol. II, pg. 592. See also P'lach Ha-Rimon of R. Hillel of Paritch, Parshat Vayera.