Weekly Cycle

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Week 36 (Book 4): The Crown(s) of Torah

8He lifts the poor from the dust; From the dunghill, He raises the pauper, To seat them with princes, And a seat of honor He causes them to inherit, For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's, And He placed the world upon them.       
And it says(4:9): "She shall give to your head a garland of grace, a crown of glory she shall grant you."
Ecclesiastes: Chapter 5
Tzadikim: Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter of Ger 

Week 36 is the week of Shavuot and the Shivah Yemei Milu’im. In the verse from the story of Channah, she sings of how Hashem raises the downtrodden and sits them with princes. Hashem is the one that decides who deserves honor and nobility.

The quotation in Pirkei Avot regarding the greatness of the Torah for this week also speaks of honor and nobility (quite similar to last week), comparing the Torah to a garland and a crown. It was on Shavuot after all that the Jewish people were crowned with a double crown: one for saying Na’aseh (“we will do”) and one for Nishmah (“we will listen”).

Chapter 5 of Ecclesiastes, like Chapter 4, contrasts wealth and poverty. It also mentions cases in which a king will be subservient:

7. If you see oppression of the poor and deprivation of justice and righteousness in the province, wonder not about the matter, for the Highest over the high waits, and there are higher ones over them. 8. And the loftiness of the earth is in everything; even the king is subservient to the field.

This week includes the yahrzeit of the Baal Shem Tov (6th of Sivan) and Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (the third Gerrer Rebbe, also on the 6th of Sivan).

From Ascent:

Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer (18 Elul 1698-6 Sivan 1760), the Baal Shem Tov ["master of the good Name"], a unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed the Chassidic movement and his own identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul 1734. He wrote no books, although many claim to contain his teachings. One available in English is the excellent annotated translation of Tzava'at Harivash, published by Kehos.

Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (1866 - 6 Sivan 1948), the son of the Sfas Emmes, was the third Rebbe in the Gur dynasty. He was the spiritual leader of over 250,000 Chassidim in pre-WW II Poland. In 1940, he managed to escape with three of his sons to Israel (then Palestine), although the vast majority of his followers did not survive. He began to rebuild the Gerrer community in Jerusalem, but he died there during the siege of Jerusalem on Shavuos, 1948. He was known as the Imrei Emmes, after the title of his major book.

Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Yitzchak Issac son of Rabbi Yisachar Beirish of Ziditchov (9th of Sivan), Rabbi Moshe of Rozvadov (10th of Sivan), Rabbi Yehuda (Yidel) son of Rabbi Alter Yechezkel Horowitz of Dzhikov (11th of Sivan) and Rabbi Avraham son of Rabbi Noach Weinberg of Slonim (12th of Sivan)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Week 37 (Book 4): Years of Life and Length of Days

STORY OF CHANNAH: 9. The feet of His pious ones He will guard, And the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, For not by strength will man prevail.

PIRKEI AVOT ON THE GREATNESS OF TORAH: And it says (9:11): "With me, your days shall be increased, and years of life shall be added to you."    


TZADIKKIM: Rav Aharon of Karlin (the Beis Aharon, 17th of Sivan) and Rabbi Yissachar Dov of Radoshitz (the "Sabba Kadisha," 18th of Sivan)

Week 37 is the third week of Sivan. In the verse from the story of Channah, she sings of how Hashem guards His pious ones, and the wicked are cut off in darkness (ie. they die).

The quotation in Pirkei Avot regarding the greatness of the Torah for this week also speaks of life and death – the Torah increases one’s days and years of life. There is an apparent repetition of days and years, because a person may live many years but yet not have many quality to their days.

Chapter 6 of Ecclesiastes speaks of length of days as well as of the darkness even in the life of those that live for a long time:

3. Should a man beget one hundred [children] and live many years, and he will have much throughout the days of his years, but his soul will not be sated from all the good, neither did he have burial. I said that the stillborn is better than he.

4. For he comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness his name is covered.


12. For who knows what is good for man in his lifetime, the number of the days of his life of vanity, that he do them like a shadow, for who will tell man what will be after him under the sun?

This week includes the yahrzeits of Rav Aharon of Karlin (the “Beis Aharon,” 17th of Sivan) and Rabbi Yissachar Dov of Radoshitz (the "Sabba Kadisha," 18th of Sivan)

From Heichal HaNeginah:
Today, 17 Sivan, is the yahrzeit of Rebbe Aharon of Karlin, son of Rebbe Asher of Stolin and grandson of Rebbe Aharon HaGadol (the Great) of Karlin, who is also known as the Second Rebbe Aharon. When he was only 26 years old he was chosen as Karliner Rebbe. With prodigious scholarship in Torah, and unparalleled piety and humility, he led the Karlin Chassidim; he attracted tens of thousands of followers who eagerly thronged around him, seeking the blessings of a man who was said to be endowed with ruach hakodesh (the spirit of holiness). Some even claimed that he had the soul of King David.

The period of Rebbe Aharon's leadership included the dark days of the reign of Czar Nikolai I [see below], but Rebbe Aharon knew how to cheer up his Chassidim and help them to bear their heavy burdens. However, some powerful residents of Karlin objected to the extent to which song and dance permeated the Rebbe's "Court," and in 1864, the Rebbe himself was run out of town. He resettled in Stolin, and since then, this dynasty has been known as "Karlin-Stolin."

Rebbe Aharon the Second (so called to distinguish him from his grandfather, Rebbe Aharon the Great), was born, according to a family tradition, on Rosh Chodesh Sivan, 1802. Rebbe Aharon was the recognized leader of the Karliner Chassidim for nearly fifty years. A gifted organizer, Rebbe Aharon applied himself to strengthening the bonds between himself and his followers. To this end, he used to pay them frequ
ent visits in their towns and welcome them most warmly in his court in Karlin. He also had a striking natural simplicity and sense of humor, and regularly made jokes in the Russian vernacular even while teaching his Chassidim at his table. He mixed freely with people of all kinds, and his confident and imposing presence was admired even in non-Chassidic circles.
 From Ascent:
Rabbi Yissachar Dov [1765-18 Sivan 1843], the "Sabba Kadisha" (holy grandfather) of Radoshitz, was a disciple of the Seer of Lublin and of the Holy Yid of Peshischa. Famed as a miracle maker, he lived in poverty as a simple tutor.
Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin (14th of Sivan) andRabbi Dovid Twersky (Second Rebbe of Skver. 19th of Sivan).

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week 38 (Book 4): Strength and Long Life

STORY OF CHANNAH: 10. Those who strive with the Lord will be broken; Upon him will He thunder in Heaven; The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. And He will grant strength to His King, And raise the horn of His anointed one.      

PIRKEI AVOT ON THE GREATNESS OF TORAH: And it says (3:16): "Long days in her right hand; in her left, wealth and honor."


TZADIKKIM: Rebbe Yisrael Dan of Modzitz (20th of Sivan), Rebbe Shlomo Shapira of Munkatch (21st of Sivan) and Rabbi Mordechai-Tzemach Eliyahu.  

Week 38 is the last week of Sivan. In the verse from the story of Channah, she sings of how those that strive with Hashem are broken to pieces. The verse speaks of judgement, but also of how Hashem exalts and gives strength to the king of Israel.

The quotation in Pirkei Avot regarding the greatness of the Torah for this week also speaks of how the Torah exalting those that are close to it. It gives long days, wealth and honor.

Chapter 7 of Ecclesiastes speaks of the exaltation and length of days brought by wisdom:

17. Be not overly wicked, and be not a fool; why should you die before your time?

18. It is good that you should take hold of this, and also from this you shall not withdraw your hand, for he who fears God will discharge himself of them all.

19. Wisdom affords strength to the wise more than ten rulers who were in the city.

This week includes the yahrzeits of Rebbe Yisrael Dan of Modzitz (20th of Sivan), Rebbe Shlomo Shapira of Munkatch (21st of Sivan) and Rabbi Mordechai-Tzemach Eliyahu (25th of  Sivan 2010).

From Modzitz.org:

Reb Israel Dan was born in the year 5688 (1928) in the city of Warsaw capital of Poland. In the year 5696 (1936) as a child of 7 Made Aliya to Eretz Yisrael with his parents. In 5710 he married Rachel, the daughter of HaRav Shmuel Aharon Shadrovitzki zt'l, from Byalistok a great talmud chacham and Yiras Shamaim who was among the heads of Agudas Yisrael in Poland as well as Sgan Yoshev Rosh of the Agudah in Eretz Yisroel.

He was chosen to replace Maran H'Imrei Aish zt'l upon his passing.

His deep knowledge of the Torah became evident by many when he became the Admor upon the death of his father. When at his Tishim they would hear many beautiful Divre Torah that were pleasant to the ear.

For a number of years he headed the Chasidim in the city of Tel-Aviv where his father had lived. On Lag Ba'omer 5755 (May 18, 1995) he moved to a new building that was built by the Chasidim, in Bnei Brak.

Like his fathers he also composes Nigunnim and many of them have are already sung regularly in the houses of Israel.

The Rebbe [was] very active in the public interest, and [was] a member of The Moetzet G'Dolei Hatorah where his opinions [were] looked up to and very well received.

Adapted from Geni.org:

Rabbi Shlomo Shapira, author of “Shem Shlomoh” was the first Rebbe of Chassidut Munkach. He was the son of Rabbi Elazar Shapira and the grandson of Rabbi Zvi Elimelech Shapira of Dynow, the “Bnei Yissachar.” He was also the rabbi of the town of Munkatch. His biography is written down in a work by David Kahane entitled “Beit Shlomoh.”

From Ascent.org:

Rabbi Mordechai-Tzemach (ben Suliman) Eliyahu (1929-25 Sivan 2010), the former Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel, was born in Iraq. A noted sage in all areas of Torah study, as well as a significant kabbalist, he was considered to be one of the leading authorities on Jewish law in Israel. His son, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, is currently the Chief Rabbi of Tsfat.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Week 39 (Book 4): Years of Fullness and Peace

STORY OF CHANNAH: 11. And Elkanah went to Ramah, to his house, and the child was serving the Lord before Eli the priest.  

PIRKEI AVOT ON THE GREATNESS OF TORAH: And it says (3:2): "For long days, years of life, and peace, they shall add to you."         


TZADIKKIM: Rabbi Shlomo of Bobov (1st of Tammuz), Rabbi Nachman Horodenker (2nd of Tammuz), Rabbi Avraham of Trisk (2nd of Tammuz)

Week 39 is the last week of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz and Gimmel Tammuz. The verse from the story of Channah speaks of how Elkanah went to his house and Shmuel served Hashem before Eli, the Kohen Gadol. It is a peaceful end to Channah’s life’s dream of having children. The end is really a beginning: a life full of meaning and accomplishment, as Shmuel would now spend his days in the service of the leader of the generation.

The quotation in Pirkei Avot regarding the greatness of the Torah for this week speaks of length of days and years of life, as mentioned previously as well. This week includes the attribute of “peace” as well.

Chapter 8 of Ecclesiastes speaks of how the days of the wicked will not be prolonged: “13. But it will not be well with the wicked, and he will not prolong [his] days, like a shadow, because he does not fear God.” Furthermore, even the days he does have will lack peace: “16. When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the conduct that is done upon the earth, for neither by day nor by night does he see sleep with his eyes.”

Along with the yahrzeit of the Lubbavitcher Rebbe, this week includes the yahrzeits of Rabbi Shlomo of Bobov (1st of Tammuz), Rabbi Nachman Horodenker (2nd of Tammuz), Rabbi Avraham of Trisk (2nd of Tammuz).

From Ascent.org:

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersonthe Lubavitcher Rebbe (11 Nissan 1902 - 3 Tammuz 1994), became the seventh Rebbe of the Chabad dynasty after his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, passed away in Brooklyn on 10 Shvat 1950. He is widely acknowledged as the greatest Jewish leader of the second half of the 20th century. Although a dominant scholar in both the revealed and hidden aspects of Torah and fluent in many languages and scientific subjects, the Rebbe is best known for his extraordinary love and concern for every Jew on the planet. His emissaries around the globe dedicated to strengthening Judaism number in the thousands. Hundreds of volumes of his teachings have been printed, as well as dozens of English renditions.

Rabbi Shlomo of Bobov [1848 - 1 Tammuz 1906] was the first rebbe of the Bobover dynasty, which he became shortly following the death of his renowned grandfather, the Divrei Chaim of Sanz. He was noted for strengthening the Judaism of the younger generation and founding numerous yeshivas. His chasidim numbered in the thousands.

Rabbi Avraham of Trisk (1802 - 2 Tammuz 1889) was one of eight sons of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl. was one of the eight sons of Rabbi Mordechai of Chernobyl, all of whom became chasidic rebbes in their own right. In addition to being wee known because of the success of his blessings, his approachability and friendliness to all comers drew thousands of Chassidim to the court which he conducted for some fifty (50!) years at Trisk. His book, Magen Avraham on the Torah and festivals, enjoys great popularity among Chasidim, and among ywshiva students for whom it offers many guidelines.

From Breslev.co.il:
Rabbi Nachman Horodenker
(1680 - 1766) The Rebbe's [Rebbe Nachman’s] grandfather, Rabbi Nachman Horodenker was associated with the pious scholars of Brody.
Around 1740, he traveled with his son Reb Shimshon to Eretz Yisrael, but left two years later. When Rabbi Elazar Rokeach (Rabbi in Amsterdam and later Tzfat) heard that Rabbi Nachman was in Eretz Yisrael, he said that if they would both be there together, they would be able to bring the Mashiach! Rabbi Elazar rushed to join Rabbi Nachman, but Rabbi Nachman had already left. When Rabbi Nachman – who had meanwhile returned to Europe - heard that Rabbi Elazar was in Israel, he traveled back to Tsfat to join him, but Rabbi Elazar had died.
When Rabbi Nachman's wife passed away, he returned to Europe to become one of the closest followers of the Baal Shem Tov. It was around this time that he remarried, and Rabbi Simcha, the Rebbe's father, was born.
The Baal Shem Tov said that Rabbi Nachman Horodenker had prayed that he not be able to hear anything that was not necessary for his service of G-d, and his request was granted. He was known for his custom of remarking on every occurrence that it was for the best.
He is quoted a number of times in the works of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonnoye and in Degel Machaneh Ephraim.
The Baal Shem Tov restrained Rabbi Nachman from returning to the Land of Israel. In 1764, after visiting the Baal Shem Tov's grave, he said that the Baal Shem tov had appeared to him and granted him permission to return.
Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz said that as long as Rabbi Nachman was in what was then Poland, the Cossaks were incapable of entering the country. It was while Rabbi Nachman was on his way to Eretz Yisrael that the massacre in Uman took place. Rabbi Nachman of Horodenker is buried in the old cemetery in Tiveria.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Week 40 (Book 4): Getting to the Root of the Matter, the Torah

STORY OF CHANNAH: 12 Now the sons of Eli were base men; they knew not the LORD.     

PIRKEI AVOT ON G-D’S ACQUISITIONS: G-d acquired five acquisitions in his world. These are: one acquisition is the Torah… The Torah, as it is written (Proverbs 8:22), "G-d acquired me as the beginning of His way, before His works of yore."


TZADIKKIM: Rabbi Menachem-Mendel ("Reb Mendel") Futerfas (4th of Tammuz), Rabbi Simcha Bunim Alter (the “Lev Simcha,” Fifth Rebbe of Ger, 7th of Tammuz), and Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (the Klausenberger Rebbe, 9th of Tammuz)      

Week 40 is the second week of Tammuz. The verse from the story of Channah speaks of how the sons of Eli were base men who did not know G-d. The primary way of knowing G-d is through the Torah, and the behavior of Eli’s sons shows a real deficit in this area. Their lack of connection and respect for the Torah was their ultimate downfall.

The quotation from Pirkei Avot is about how the Torah is the first of G-d’s acquisitions. In line with the above, we see that the way of Hashem begins with the Torah: "G-d acquired me as the beginning of His way…”

Chapter 9 of Ecclesiastes contains the same concept: everything is dependent on wisdom and righteousness (in other words, on Torah):

1. For all this I laid to my heart and to clarify all this, that the righteous and the wise and their works are in God's hand; even love, even hate, man does not know; everything is before them.

This week contains the yahrzeits of three relatively recent figures in Chassidic world: Rabbi Menachem-Mendel ("Reb Mendel") Futerfas (4th of Tammuz, 1995), Rabbi Simcha Bunim Alter (the “Lev Simcha,” Fifth Rebbe of Ger, 7th of Tammuz, 1992), and Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam (the Klausenberger Rebbe, 9th of Tammuz, 1994)

From Ascent.org

Rabbi Menachem-Mendel ("Reb Mendel") Futerfas (1906 - 4 Tammuz 1995), was a near legendary Lubavitcher chasid, even for those who knew him personally. In 1947 he was arrested for administrating networks of underground yeshivas and Jewish schools, and for facilitating the repatriation of thousands of Soviet Jews to Poland after WWII, and sentenced to 8 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps, which he went through without compromising any religious observances, despite the cruel pressure to do so. After another six years in Siberian exile he was allowed to emigrate to England, thanks to an appeal for family repatriation made by prime minister Harold Wilson during his summit meeting in Moscow with Chairman Nikita Khrushchev. In 1973 settled in Kfar Chabad, Israel, for the rest of his life.

From Matzav.com:

Rav Simcha Bunim Alter zt”l, also known as the Lev Simcha after the works he authored, was the fifth Rebbe of Ger, a position he held from 1977 until 1992.

The Alter mishpacha managed to escape from Poland during the Holocaust to Eretz Yisroel. Prior to becoming Rebbe of Ger, Rav Simcha Bunim Alter was supposedly extremely successful as a businessman, although it is not known what line of business he was in. During the time of his leadership, Ger grew greatly in Eretz Yisroel. He continued the family tradition of vigorous leadership of the Agudas Yisroel party in the Knesset.Rav Simcha Bunim instituted the daily learning of a page of Talmud Yerushalami.

From Ascent.org

Rabbi Yekutiel Yehuda Halberstam [1904-9 Tammuz 1994] the Klausenberger Rebbe, also became the post-war Rebbe of the Sanz Chassidim. One of the foremost Chasidic leaders of his generation, he is best known for his revitalization of the study of Talmud through "Mifal Shas" and the building of a hospital, Laniado in Netanya, that functions at the highest standards of Jewish law and medical practice.

Other yahrzeits this week include Rabbi Pinchas HaLevi Horowitz (brother of Rabbi Shmuel "Shmelke" of Nicholsburg, teacher of the Chattam Sofer, 7th of Tammuz) and Rabbi Boruch Frankel-Tumim (father-in-law of R' Chaim of Sanz, 7th of Tammuz).

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