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Thursday, January 6, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Rabbi Abraham of Kalisk (1741-1810) was a controversial figure in the 3rd generation of Chassidic leaders. In his youth, he was a study partner of Rabbi Elijah "the Gaon of Vilna," who led the initial opposition against Chassidism; but later Rabbi Abraham himself joined the the forbidden kat ("sect," as the Chassidic movement was derisively called by its opponents) and became a disciple of Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezeritch, the successor to Chassidism's founder, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. After Rabbi DovBer's passing in 1772, much of the opposition to Chassidism was directed against Rabbi Abraham's disciples, who, more than any other group within the movement, mocked the intellectual elitism of the establishment's scholars and communal leaders; even Rabbi Abraham's own colleagues were dismayed by the "antics" of some of his disciples. In 1777, Rabbi Abraham joined the first Chassidic "aliyah", in which a group of more than 300 Chassidim led by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk emigrated to the Holy Land. Rabbi Abraham passed away in Tiberias on the 4th of Shevat of the year 5570 from creation (1810 CE).

Immanent Transcendence

Rabbi Israel Abuchatzera (1890-1984), known as "Baba Sali," was born in Tafillalt, Morocco, to the llustrious Abuchatzera family. From a young age he was renowned as a sage, miracle maker and master kabbalist. In 1964 he moved to the Holy Land, eventually settling in the southern development town he made famous, Netivot. He passed away in 1984 on the 4th of Shevat. His graveside in Netivot has become a holy site visited by thousands annually.

Baba Sali Stories

Daily Thought

Abraham circumcised Isaac, his son, when he was eight days old. (Genesis 21:4)

We are not Jews by any rational choice.

We are born into a life mission we did not choose.

A male’s entry into the Jewish community is by circumcision—before he has a mind to be reasoned with.

A Jewish woman enters the covenant eight days earlier—as soon as she emerges from the womb.

As for those who join our people, they do so because something mysterious propels them from inside. The reasons and rationalization emerge only later, out of some deep and unknowable place.

And is it not in our capacity to leave. Even concerning a convert, the rabbis rule, “Even should he sin, once a Jew, always a Jew.” (Talmud Sanhedrin 44a)

And that is why it is so precious to be a Jew.

If we were Jews by the choice of our own minds and hearts, then our Judaism would take us only as far as our minds and hearts can know.

We would remain limited by our own conceptions—the futile imaginations of tiny, finite creatures grasping upward into the sky for their infinite Creator.

But our minds and hearts have no choice. It is He who reaches down, chooses us, and flicks a switch at our very core.

And it is a divine and eternal G‑d-point within us that reciprocates to choose Him. For no reason whatsoever.

So that our bond transcends reason and time, our journey is on eagle’s wings and our destiny beyond the stars.

We are His and He is ours, and nothing—not even our own minds and hearts—can come between us.

Likutei Sichot vol. 25, p. 86.

(Revised October 2021)