c 320 BCE- A historic meeting occurred between Shimon HaTzaddik and Alexander ('the Great") of Macedonia. The Cuthim (Samarians), bitter enemies of the Jews, had convinced Alexander that the Jews' refusal to place his image in their Beit HaMikdash was a sign of rebellion against his sovereignty, and that the Beit HaMikdash should be destroyed.  The Kohen Gadol ("High Priest") at the time was Shimon HaTzaddik, the last of the "Men of the Great Assembly" who rebuilt the Beit HaMikdash and revitalized Judaism under Ezra.

On the 21st of Kislev, Alexander marched on Yerushalayim at the head of his army. Shimon HaTzaddik, garbed in the bigdei kehunah, (vestments of the High Priest), and accompanied by a delegation of Jewish dignitaries, went forth to greet him. The two groups walked towards each other all night; meeting at the crack of dawn.

When Alexander beheld the visage of Shimon HaTzaddik, the Kohen Gadol, he made the rare move of dismounting from his horse and bowing respectfully; to his men he explained that he often had dreams and visions of Shimon HaTzaddik leading him into battle. Shimon HaTzaddik brought the emperor to the Beit HaMikdash and explained to the king how concerned the Jews were for his safety and prosperity. He also explained that Judaism prohibits the display of any graven image; he offered to name all the male children born to priests that year "Alexander" as a demonstration of loyalty to the emperor (which is how "Alexander" became a common Jewish name).  The king retreated, and the Cuthim's (Samarians) plot was rebuffed.

The Jews destroyed the Cuthian temple and Kislev 21 was declared a Yom Tov. (Talmud Yoma 69a). According to an alternative version, this episode occurred on 21 Kislev or 25 Tevet.  Called Yom Har Gerizim (in Megillat Taanit) to celebrate the victory over the Samarians.

 

November 26, 1744- Austrian forces massacred many Jews in Prague.

 

December 6, 1917- Finland became independent of Moscow and finally granted Jews civil rights. The original law though passed in 1909 had its implementation delayed by the Russian government.

 

December 7, 1944- The Satmar Rebbe, HaRav Yoel Teitelbaum, zt"l, (1887-1979), was rescued from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, along with 1,368 other Jews, through the efforts of Rudulf Kastner, head of the Zionist rescue operation in Hungary (an earlier transport of 1,686 Jews had been rescued on Av 29).  The Satmar kehillah celebrates this day as a Yom Tov.

 

Torah Portion

נשׂא (Naso)

 

 

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Today is

Yom Sh'lishi, 8 Sivan, 5778

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

 

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