26th Iyar - the Ramchal

The Ramchal - Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato passed away on this day 240 years ago (He was born 300 years ago). Today his writings are amongst the most influential for mussar (Mesilat Yesharim), hashkafa (Derech Hashem and Da'at Tevunot) and kabbalah (Kelach Pitchei Chachma and Adir Bamarom). Though he died before the age of 40 he left behind a huge number of works, which also include poetry and drama. He was the Jewish equivalent of a Rennaisance man. Despite his brilliance (or because of it) he spent most of his life being attacked as a suspected Sabbatean. He also felt that the Mashiach was coming at any moment, and depending on which letter you read either thought he was the Mashiach, or one of his students was.
His clear thinking and analysis, his ability to present complex issues in a straight forward and simple manner, and his breadth of knoweldge, make the Ramchal one of the most important Jewish thinkers of the past few hundred years.

20th Iyar - Doros HaRishonim

Today is the yarzheit of Rabbi Yitzchak Eizik Rabinowitz, most famous as the author of Doros Harishonim. He was also the founder of Agudas Yisroel.
Doros Harishonim is a history of the Jewish people which was written as a response to the historians (e.g. Graetz) who claimed that the Torah was not from Sinai, the Mishna was not from Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi, the Talmud was much later etc. The Doros Harishonim countered by making all the dates much earlier. He claimed that the basis of the Mishna is from the time of Hilllel and Shammai, and that the proto-Talmud was written by Rava and Abaye etc.He also claims that not only rules alone were given at Sinai but every possible range of opinion and every Halachic possibility were disclosed to Moses.

Maharam m'Rotenburg - 19th Iyar

Today is the Yarzheit of one of the most influential Ashkenazi poskim. R' Meir m'Rotenburg, the Maharam, was the teacher of both the Rosh and the Mordechai, who themselves are pretty much the basis of Ashkenazi Halacha. He is also famous for spending the last years of his life being held ransom and eventually dying in captivity. Even though money was raised to ransom him he refused to allow the people to give the money, because he was afraid that kidnapping Jews would become a regular occurrence if the authorities realised that it was lucrative. (Is there a message for today's leaders in that then?).

Here is the wikipedia entry on the Maharam

Pictures of kids

18th Iyar - Yarzheit of the Rama

While everyone else is out burning down the town with their bonfires to celebrate the yarzheit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (who probably didn't die on Lag B'Omer anyway), I wanted to take the opportunity to remember someone who actually did die on this day, and was almost as influential (certainly for Ashkenazi Jews) as the RaSHBI.
Lag B'Omer is the day that the Rema passed away, in Cracow in 1572. He was 52 years old. Rema (or Rama) is an acronym for his real name 'Rabbi Moshe Isserles'.
He is most famous for his commentary on the Shulchan Aruch (known as the Mapa - the tablecloth) which not only included Ashkenazi customs within R' Yosef Caro's code of law, but more importantly ensured that there would be only one standard text of Halacha for all of Jewry, rather than separate books for Ashkenazim and Sefardim. According to tradition he had written a work similar to the Shulchan Aruch, but destroyed it upon finding out that R' Caro had already written his book.


"You shall not profane My holy name, and I shall be sanctified in the midst of the Children of Israel, I am the L-rd Who sanctifies you" (Leviticus 22; 32). The idea of Minyan is derived from this verse by the Talmud. The Bavli (Babylonian) and Yerushalmi Talmud use different events to illustrate this concept. Both verses contain the word 'midst' and each Talmud applies the hermeneutic principle of Gezeira Shava to learn from an identical word elsewhere in the Chumash.

Ariella sleeping again

Doesn't she look content. This is the basis of the phrase 'sleeping like a baby'

Torah Lab

Where I work most of the day. Excellent Jewish content provider.

Rabbi Sedley's blogspot

Link to the original Rabbi Sedley blog

ariella 10 days

Here she is, asleep (as usual) in her carseat

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