The Book of Joel is a mere four chapters long. The prophet Joel lived in the Kingdom of Judea and prophesied during the reign of the wicked King Manasseh (c. 600 B.C.E.).
Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the legal compendium the Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, relates the disturbing story of a man who became so emotional while reciting the third blessing of Birkat Hamazon (Grace After Meals), which asks God to restore Jerusalem (meaning the Holy Temple), that he stabbed himself in the gut with his own knife. The story is recorded as a way of explaining the custom of covering or removing all knives from the table before reciting Birkat Hamazon. Apparently this custom was common enough that it merited mention in the Shulchan Aruch (Orech Chaim 180:5).
Those familiar with synagogue ritual know that there is a weekly Torah reading cycle. In the Fall, there are the inspiring stories of creation and the history of the origins of the Jewish people (Genesis). With winter comes the enslavement, freedom, and the journey in the wilderness (Exodus). Winter thawing into spring brings the laws of the Temple (Leviticus), followed by additional Temple laws and more of the wilderness history (Numbers). Finally, as summer fades into fall, there is a summation of the entire history of Israel as seen through the eyes of our great leader Moses (Deuteronomy).
Much of Jewish life is built around community. Jews often live close to each other, often with a synagogue or synagogues at the center of their neighborhoods. As important as living in a community is, Judaism has always put a premium on maintaining individual privacy.
While Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchak 1040-1105) is considered the premier commentator on the Torah and the Talmud, he is also noted as the grandfather of Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir (1100-1171). Also known as Rabbeinu Tam (our teacher, the complete*), Rabbi Yaakov ben Meir was one of the most important of the Talmudic scholars known as the Tosafists and a leader of his generation.
For 400 years prior to World War I, Palestine was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Although the Turks generally allowed Jews to live in peace, by the late 19th century, the government of Palestine had grown inefficient and corrupt. And while they permitted the sale of land to Jews, these lands had been controlled by absentee landlords who had generally stripped their properties of their natural resources. Taxation was exorbitant. Local officials and Arab marauders often harassed Jewish settlers.
Historic references to David Salisbury Franks (c. 1740-1793) do not mention anti-Semitism. Franks had a far more serious cloud hanging over him–the unfortunate honor of serving as an Aide-de-Camp to General Benedict Arnold.
The first Jewish settlers in the area now known as Quebec (but which was referred to as “Lower Canada” by the British) arrived with the British soldiers during the “French and Indian War” (1754-1763). (Jews and other non-Catholics had not been permitted in New France.)
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“Behind every great man…” So who were the women who gave their support to Moses and Aaron, the leaders of the Jewish people?