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Monday, March 1, 2021

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Jewish History

In the year 91 BCE, Alexander Yannai of the Hasmonean family succeeded his brother Yehuda Aristoblus to the throne of Judea. Alexander Yannai was a Sadducee who virulently persecuted the Pharisees. At one point during his bloody reign, following a victory he scored on a battlefield, he invited all the Torah scholars for a celebratory feast. During this feast he was slighted by one of the guests, which led him to execute all the Torah scholars in attendance.

A few of the sages managed to escape to the town of Sulukus in Syria. There, too, they encountered anti-Semitic enemies who murdered many of the exiled sages. The handful of surviving Torah scholars went in to hiding, finding refuge in the home of an individual named Zevadai. On the night of the 17th of Adar they escaped the hostile city of Sulukus.

Eventually these surviving scholars revived Torah Judaism. The date they escaped the clutches of death was established as a day of celebration.

Daily Thought

“These words that I command you today should be upon your heart.” (Deut. 6:6.)

“Every day, the words of the Torah must be new to you.” (Sifri, Rashi.)

Tradition is not life. Tradition preserves life. But it does not give life.

Goals are not life. Goals inspire life. But they are not life.

Life is here in this moment now. To be alive, every moment must be a moment that never happened before.

Which means that Torah must not be about tradition. It cannot be grounded on a memory of the past. Those are important, truly vital. But a Torah life cannot be built upon them.

Real life, Torah life, is about who you are now, where the core of your soul lies at this very moment.

For if it is not about the moment now, then it is not your life. And if it is not your life, then what is?

Maamar Tziyon BeMishpat 5736.