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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

Tevet 5 is celebrated as a day of rejoicing in the Chabad-Lubavitch community. On this date in 1987, U.S. Federal Court issued a decision in favor of Agudas Chassidei Chabad ("Union of Chabad Chassidim") regarding the ownership of the priceless library of the 6th Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn. The ruling was based on the idea that a Rebbe is not a private individual but a communal figure synonymous with the body of Chassidim. The Lubavitcher Rebbe (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak's son-in-law and successor) urged that the occasion be marked with time devoted to study from Torah books ("sefarim") as well as the acquisition of new Torah books.

Learn more about Hey Tevet
Watch: A Movement on Trial
The Rebbe's Library

In 434 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon invaded Judea, exiling King Jehoiachin and thousands of Judean notables to Babylon. Eleven years later, the Nebuchadnezzar’s army invaded Jerusalem again, setting fire to the Temple and massacring its inhabitants. The tragic news reached the Babylonian exiles five months later, on 5 Teves 422 BCE (Ezekiel 33:21). According to a minority opinion, this day is commemorated as a fast day (Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 18b).

Link: The Destruction of the First Holy Temple

Shlomo was raised as a Marrano and served at the royal court in Lisbon, Portugal. When the enigmatic David HaReuveini appeared in Portugal, claiming to hail from the Ten Lost Tribes, Shlomo was inspired to return to Judaism. So as not to be indicted by the Inquisition for abandoning Christianity, R. Shlomo traveled to Salonica, Turkey, and then to Safed, Israel, where he delved into the intricacies of Kabbalah. Sadly, the Inquisition caught up to him and he was given the choice of accepting Christianity or being burned at the stake. R. Shlomo chose the latter, and he was killed in Mantua, Italy, meriting to sanctify G‑d’s name.

Link: Is a Jew Required to Die Rather than Disobey a Torah Command?

Daily Thought

The last written work of the Rebbe before his stroke centered on the following thought. The Rebbe personally handed a copy to thousands of people. I believe it is a summary of who we are and what we must do:

Self-sacrifice in a land of freedom penetrates to the bone.

I saw men and women who sacrificed all they had to defy the religious persecution of the Bolshevik regime. They came to a land of freedom and comfort—where is their greatness now?

Then there is the child of that land of freedom and comfort, worshipping it, chasing after it—but inside he is crushed by the spiritual void. His inner being does not let him alone, the spark inside that cries, “This is not what I truly want! I don’t want this world! I don’t want any worlds! All I want is Him alone!”

This is the crushing of an olive for its oil. The oil spreads and penetrates every fiber of his being. His every faculty begins to burn. And there shines the source of light that can never be extinguished nor dimmed.

It is the light from which the messianic era is formed.