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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Yud-Tes Kislev - "Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism"
Jewish History

Rabbi DovBer, known as "The Maggid of Mezeritch", was the disciple of, and successor to, the founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. Rabbi DovBer led the Chassidic movement from 1761 until his passing on Kislev 19, 1772.

Links:
The Maggid's Passing

On the 19th of Kislev of the year 5559 from creation (1798), Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi -- a leading disciple of Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch (see previous entry) and the founder of Chabad Chassidism -- was released from his imprisonment in the Peter-Paul fortress in Petersburg, where he was held for 53 days on charges that his teachings threatened the imperial authority of the Czar. More than a personal liberation, this was a watershed event in the history of Chassidism heralding a new era in the revelation of the "inner soul" of Torah, and is celebrated to this day as "The Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism."

Links: About Kislev 19

On the very day that Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi was liberated from prison (see above), a granddaughter was born to him -- the daugher of his son Rabbi Dovber and his wife Rebbetzin Sheina. The girl was named Menuchah Rachel -- "Menuchah", meaning "tranquility" (Rachel was the name of a daughter of Rabbi Schneur Zalman who died in her youth).

In 1845, Rebbetzin Menuchah Rachel realized her lifelong desire to live in the Holy Land when she and her husband, Rabbi Yaakov Culi Slonim (d. 1857), led a contingent of Chassidim who settled in Hebron. Famed for her wisdom, piety and erudition, she served as the matriarch of the Chassidic community in Hebron until her passing in her 90th year in 1888.

Laws and Customs

Chassidim joyfully celebrate today and tomorrow as the Rosh Hashanah ("new year") of Chassidism (see "Today in Jewish History"), with farbrengens (Chassidic gatherings) and an increased commitment to the ways and teachings of Chassidism. Tachnun (supplication) and similar prayers are omitted. We begin anew the yearly cycle of the daily study of the Tanya, Rabbi Schneur Zalman's major Chassidic work (as part of the "Chitas" daily study program.)

Links: The Longer Shorter Way; Today's Tanya Lesson

In Chabad practice, Tachanun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted today.
Daily Thought

“Nothing bad descends from Above.” -R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi

In essence, all is good. There is nothing truly bad. In the Creator’s conception, every creature and everything that happens to every creature—all is sweet fruit from Eden.

But when that goodness emerges from G‑d’s thought and plays itself out on the stage of our earthly lives, it often looks really awful. Indeed, the most precious gifts of a lifetime tend to enter in the most life-disrupting ways.

Think of the screech that came out of your flute when you tried to play a high, sweet note. Or the jarring mess when you attempted a nice riff on your guitar. When you’re starting off, all the best stuff keeps coming out as noise.

In some faintly similar way, so too with life: The sweeter heaven’s blessings, the more they might taste like bitter curses.

Like well-intended words repeated in the wrong way to the wrong person at the wrong time—all context lost, all meaning completely inverted—so too, the warmest kisses from heaven can slap against your cheek like freezing rain.

Such is the order of heaven and earth in its present, unfinished stage. Ideas that look fantastic to the heavenly host make their landing here on earth with the most disastrous implementation. And it’s mostly because our world lacks a landing pad anywhere near large enough for such blinding conceptions.

The avenues of our hearts are too constricted, our neuropathways too tightly set and fixed. And our vision oh so strained that we can’t see beyond just the things we want and the acquirements that enslave us. Our entire world has simply not been tuned to receive divine goodness.

We inhabit a world of cacophony begging to be rearranged into music, words yearning to speak their true meaning, scenery just waiting to be moved into place—until all that occurs below will attain magnificent harmony with its origin above.

And how do we allow that to happen? Mostly by allowing ourselves to believe it’s already there.

You’ve likely heard the story of the recalcitrant child who turns out good because someone really believed in that kid. As art emerges from the hands of those who believe in art, kindness from hearts that believe in kindness, and science from minds who trust there is an explanation.

So too, a dark and bitter chapter of life is reframed into a higher context, redeemed, and revealed in all its glorious, delicious splendor by a soul that trusts that G‑d is good, and G‑d is One.

No matter how things may appear.

Open your mind, open your heart. Trust that all is good, and it will be good. Good beyond anything you could possibly imagine, but down to earth good.

Extracted from the last two lines of Igeret Hakodesh 11.