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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

In 1843, the Interior Ministry of the Czarist government convened a rabbinical conference in the Russian capital of Petersburg, to the end of imposing changes in Jewish communal life and religious practice. Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (1789-1866, known as the "Tzemach Tzedek" after his Halachic works by that name) was invited; as a primary figure in the leadership of Russian Jewry, his compliance was required to lend legitimacy to the government's proposed "reforms". In the course of the conference, the Tzemach Tzeddek was placed under arrest no less than 22 (!) times for his refusal to cooperate. When he finally departed Petersburg on the 26th of Av, he had successfully prevented the government's disruption of traditional Jewish life.

Links:
A Brief Biography of the Tzemach Tzedek
More on the Tzemach Tzeddek

R. Yoel Teitelbaum was the founding rebbe of the Satmar chassidic dynasty, named after the town of Satmar (or Satu Mare) in what is today northwestern Romania. After World War II (see entry for 21 Kislev), he relocated to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he continued to lead his thousands of followers. He passed away on 26 Menachem Av, 5739 (1979).

Daily Thought

Before Sinai, there was earth and there was heaven. If you wanted one, you abandoned the other.

At Sinai, the boundaries of heaven and earth were breached and the human being was empowered to fuse the two: To raise the earthly into the realm of the spirit, and to bring heaven down to earth.

Before Mount Sinai, the coarse material of which the world is made could not be elevated. It could be used as a medium, an aid in achieving enlightenment, but it itself could not be enlightened. The spirit was raised, but the earth remained dark.

At Sinai we were empowered to take physical objects and transform them into spiritual artifacts.

Our forefathers’ task was to enlighten the souls. Ours is to transform the darkness of a material world into light.