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Shabbat, July 31, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

R. Mordechai ben Hillel was a prominent scholar who lived in Nuremberg, Germany. He authored a famous halachic compendium known as Mordechai, included in all standard printings of the Talmud. R. Mordechai, his wife, and five children were killed in the notorious Rindfleisch massacres (see entry for 7 Iyar), on 22 Menachem Av, 5058 (1298).

Link: Rabbi Mordechai ben Hillel Ashkenazi

Laws and Customs

During the summer months, from the Shabbat after Passover until the Shabbat before Rosh Hashahah, we study a weekly chapter of the Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers ("Avot") each Shabbat afternoon; this week we study Chapter Four.

Link: Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 4

Daily Thought

When G-d asked Abraham to take his son, his only son, the son he loves, Isaac, and raise him for an offering upon a mountain, G-d said, “please.”

He said, “Please stand for me in this test, so they will not say, ‘The other tests were of no substance.’”

The other tests included being thrown in a fiery furnace for not worshipping Nimrod.

Not complaining when he had to leave the land promised him so as not to starve.

Not flinching with fear when he ran to save his nephew from the powerful armies that had captured him.

Not wavering from his faith when he had been promised many children and not a single one had been born.

And all this would be unsubstantial if he would fail this one test?

Yes. Because all these tests only demonstrated that Abraham was a man with a cause.

It could have been that his stalwartness had less to do with G-d and truth than it had to do with his own self-identity and iron will to stick to his cause.

Until a challenge came that would not promote his cause, not affirm his identity, not contribute to his future, or any future. Something that could only burn down everything he had ever built. 

But it was truth.

When Abraham fulfilled that impossible act, G-d said, “Don’t do anything to the lad. Because now everyone will know that all you do is real.” 

Likutei Sichot vol. 20, pg. 73ff.