Friday, December 25, 2009

What do we commemorate on the 10th of Tebet?(2)

8th of Tebet, 5770

This coming Sunday, Dec 27, is Asara beTebet (10th of Tebet) a fast day, which commemorates several tragedies that happened to the Jewish people.
Yesterday we mentioned 1. The translation of the Torah. 2. The death of Ezra haSofer.
The main tragedy that happened in this day was the onset of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylonia, and the beginning of the battle that ultimately destroyed Jerusalem and the Bet haMikdash in the year 586 BCE, and sent the Jews into the 70-year Babylonian Exile. The date of the Tenth of Tebet is recorded for us by the prophet Yechezkel, who himself was already in Babylonia as part of the first group of Jews exiled there by Nebuchadnezzar, 11 years earlier than the actual destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem itself.

In modern day Israel, the 10th of Tebet has been designated as Yom haKaddish Haklali - the day on which we mourn those whose date or place of death is unknown, including mainly victims of the Shoa .

In N.Y. the fast starts Sunday at 6:05 AM and ends Sunday at 5:05 PM. Besides the fast, no other restrictions apply.

For more information see:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What do we commemorate on the 10th of Tebet?(1)

7th of Tebet, 5770

Approximately in the year 300 BCE, on the 8th of TebetKing Ptolemy of Egypt forced 70 Jewish scholars to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek. The Talmud relates that this project was blessed with a miracle, the 70 scholars were all placed in separate cubicles and yet they all came up with the same translation. Still, the rabbis of the time considered this project negative. The Talmud records that when this translation became public "darkness descended on the world”.
Why? Because the Greek Bible –known as the Septuagint- aided the advance of the agenda of the Hellenist Jews to bring Greek culture into Jewish life and was strategically used by other religions to, eventually, create a new religion. In fact, as the Talmud tells us, the translation of the Bible would allow the nations of the world to claim, “Anu Israel!” “We are the NEW Israel!”

The 9th day of Tebetcommemorates the death of Ezra the Scribe (5thCentury BCE). Ezra led the return of the Jews to Jerusalem from their Babylonian exile. It was under his direction and inspiration, together with the help of the court Jew, Nechemiah, that the Second Temple was built. (adapted from rabbi Berel Wein)
This coming Sunday 12/27 is the 10th of Tebet, a fast day, and these two events are among the tragedies that we commemorate then.

More on the impact of the Septuagint:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When should you place your home's Mezuzah?

6th of Tebet, 5770

When you are renting a house or an apartment, you have 30 days to put your Mezuzot. Why? Because of an ancient Halakhic principle that only after 30 days of living there you’re considered a permanent resident on somebody else’s house.

However, when you buy a house, you are considered a resident immediately, and your obligation to place the Mezuzot starts from the first day you come to live into your house, or from the time when you have your furniture or other valuables inside your house.

If you live in the land of Israel, even if you rent a house, you need to have your Mezuzot right away. Because of the Mitzva to live in Erets Israel, all Jews are considered permanent residents in any house they might live.

When moving out of a home -and the next occupant is also Jewish- we should leave the Mezuzot.

When one moves to a new house or apartment which does not have Mezuzot, it is the obligation of the tenant to get and put the Mezuzot, even if the landlord is Jewish.

Watch this SPECTACULAR video (4:35)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Inside your Mezuza

Tuesday Tebet 5, 5770

Let me share with you what the Book chobot halebabot says about the first Pasuk of the Shema Israel. SHEMA ISRAEL HASHEM ELOKENU HASHEM ECHAD. “Listen Oh Israel, HaShem is our God, HaShem is one”.

Most people believe that this verse refers only about the unity of God (ECHAD God is one). However, that is only one of the 3 principles of the Pasuk Shema Israel. We also learn two more things:

One, ELOKENU, Hashem is our God: we assert our condition of chosen people, which implies a special relationship with God. Not a relationship of favoritism and more rights for us but mainly, chosen for greater responsibilities. We have 613 obligations toward God, while the rest of the world only 7.

The next lesson is kind of hiding in the original Hebrew and then it appears in English or vernacular: “HASHEM is our God…” HASHEM is… means, HASHEM exists.
So Chobot haLebabot says that when we say the first Pasuk of the Shema Israel, and every time we see or kiss the Mezuzah which contains the Shema Israel, we should think about these 3 principles of our Jewish faith:

1. God exists.
2. We are His chosen people.
3. God is ONE

Mezuzah joke:

Monday, December 21, 2009

Inside/Outside the Mezuzah

4th of Tebet, 5770

Most people think that the Mezuzah cover is really the Mezuzah and the inside, just a parchment. Well, actually, the inside IS the Mezuzah and the outside is just a decorative/protective case also known as: BAYIT, or “house of the Mezuzah”.

If you really want to know what’s “inside a Mezuzah”, you’re actually asking: what is written in the Mezuzah?
The Mezuzah then, is a small handwritten scroll which contains the first two paragraphs of the Shema Israel.

Why it contains exclusively these two paragraphs? Because in both of them appears the Mitzvah of Mezuzah ukhtabatam al mezuzot betekha ubisharekha.

Similar to the Tefilin which contains 4 paragraphs (two of the Shema and two of Kadesh li) because in those 4 paragraphs the Mitzvah of Tefilin is mentioned.

Going back to the Mezuzah, the Shema Israel contains the basic principles of our faith, and by placing the Mezuza in our entrance doors we are asserting and remembering our beliefs every time we come in and go out.

For more Information watch this 30 seconds video: “Inside” a Mezuzah?