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Jewish Holidays

The Tisha B’Av Water Miracle

July 19, 2011, by

In Gehinnom Several days after Shavuos, in early June of 1944, the Germans took some 5,000 of us by train from Auschwitz to Warsaw in order to clear away the ruins of the Jewish ghetto that had been reduced to rubble by German shells and bombs in Nisson of 1943. Besides removing the rubble of the […]

The Haftarah of Shabbat Chazon

July 19, 2011, by

The Shabbat before Tisha B’Av, is called Shabbat Chazon – the Shabbat of foretelling – as we read the Haftara portion from the prophecy of Isaiah (1:1-27), as the final of the “three of affliction,” readings. Rabbi Mendel Hirsch points out, the prophet does not lament because the Bet HaMikdash (The Temple in Jerusalem) was […]

Tisha B’Av: The Haftarot of Consolation

July 19, 2011, by

On the Shabbos immediately after Tisha B’Av, we read the haftarah of “Nachamu, Nachamu” from Yeshayahu. Each consecutive Shabbos, until Rosh Hashanah, we read another selection from Yeshayahu, in which the prophet continues to comfort the Jewish People, following the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of our people from our land. Each selection elaborates […]

The Connection Between Tisha B’Av and Sefer Iyov (Job)

July 19, 2011, by

Although it is prohibited to learn most Torah topics on Tisha B’Av, one may nevertheless study Eichah, sections of Jeremiah which relate to the Destruction and related Midrashim, the laws of Avelus (Mourning) and Ta’anis (Fasts), as well as Sefer Iyov (The Book of Job). (See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 554:1-3.) It is easily understood why […]

Megillat Eicha (Lamentations) and its Timeless Message

July 19, 2011, by

The prophet Jeremiah spent years warning his people that they repent and stop insisting that the Temple would protect them. To his chagrin, the Jews honored the Temple more in spectacle than in spirit. But, the Jews ignored him, even imprisoned him, and to his unbearable agony, he was proven right. The Temple was destroyed, […]

Tragedy in Perspective: Why Did Rabbi Akiva Laugh?

July 19, 2011, by

At the end of “Masechet Makot,” the volume of the Talmud called “Makot,” on pages 24a and 24b, there are two similar stories. In each, the same group of great scholars hears something or makes an observation which evokes from the majority of the group the expected human reaction, namely, tears. But one among them […]

Destruction and Desecration: Titus the Wicked and his Nephew Onkelos the Convert

July 19, 2011, by

“The replacement for Vespasian, the newly crowned Emperor, was the wicked Titus, from whose mouth the verse ‘Where is their G-d, the Rock in Whom they trusted?’ seemed to come. For Titus blasphemed and cursed Heaven!” “What did he do? He seized a prostitute, and entered the Holy of Holies, spread out a Sefer Torah, […]

The Fateful Meeting: Give Me Yavneh and It’s Sages

July 19, 2011, by

The setting is Jerusalem, approximately in the year 70 C.E.; the city is in the grip of a terrible famine, and it is surrounded by powerful Roman legions, under the command of Vespasian. “Abba Sikra, the head of the ‘Biryonim,’ the extremist Jewish militants, was the brother-in-law of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai. Ben Zakkai sent […]

The Tiger at the Gates: The Romans Lay Siege to Jerusalem

July 19, 2011, by

The Enemy Approaches, and Famine in Yerushalayim When the Roman Emperor was convinced by Bar-Kamtza that the Jews were indeed mounting a rebellion, he sent against Yerushalayim the great general, Nero. As Nero approached, he tried to find out what G-d, in whom he believed, wanted him to do. He shot an arrow to the […]

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