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. 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 this day was declared a Yom Tov. (Talmud Yoma 69a). According to an alternative version, this episode occurred on 21 Kislev. Called Yom Har Gerizim (in Megillat Taanit) to celebrate the victory over the Samarians.

 

1311- Anti-Jewish riots erupted in various parts of Austria.

 

1559- The first critical edition of Chovot HaLevavot (The Duties of the Heart), the classical work on Jewish ethics, authored by Rabbeinu Bechaye ben Yosef Ibn Pakudah, (the first "Rabbeinu Bechayei") on or before 1161, and translated into Hebrew from the original Arabic by the famed translator R. Judah idn Tibbon in 1167, was published in Italy.

 

December 29, 1717- Frankfurt's Jewish streets and shuls were burnt down and many Jewish valuables were destroyed or confiscated. This date was declared a public fast day in Frankfurt.

 

Torah Portion

ואתחנן (Va'etchanan)

 

 

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Today is

Yom Sheni, 11 Av, 5778

Monday, July 23, 2018

 

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