Yom Tov: (Fast of Esther) Thursday, March 17, 2011 : 10 Adar II, 5771


  
 Wednesday, March 17, 2011   
Yom Tov
ערב טוב
Yom Tov in two words "Good Day" symbolize and embody the Scripture 
 "This is the Day that the Lord has made I will rejoice and be glad in it"
Since God created the day from the night in genesis and called it good, it is possible He might have looked at the day dawning and said: "Yom Tov"
-Eben Micha'el Ya'akov ben Avraham-

Today is the Fast of Esther

Today in Jewish HistoryOpen All
 First Print of Rashi (1475)   Less
 

Rashi, the most basic commentary on the Torah, was printed for the first time, in Reggio di Calabria, Italy. In this print, the commentary on the Five Books of Moses, authored in the 11th century by Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, was not on the same page as the text of the Scriptures, as it is normally printed today.

This was the first time that the rounded Hebrew font was used, the font which has since become known as "Rashi Letters."

 

Links:
Rashi
Did Rashi Lack a Scientific Method?

 Passing of the "Rogatchover Prodigy" (1936)   Less
 

Rabbi Yosef Rosen, known as the Rogatchover Gaon (Prodigy/Genius), passed away in Vienna on Thursday, March 5, 1936.

Rabbi Rosen, born in 1858, and raised in the Belarusian city of Rogatchov, served for decades as a rabbi in the Latvian city of Dvinsk (Daugavpils). He was an unparalleled genius, whose in depth understanding of all Talmudic literature left the greatest of scholars awestruck. He habitually demonstrated that many of the famous debates between the Talmudic sages have a singular thread and theme.

Rabbi Rosen authored tens of thousands of responsa on the Talmud and Jewish law. Many of them have been compiled in the set of volumes Tzafnat Paneach.

Laws and CustomsOpen All
 Fast of Esther   Less
 

Because Adar 13 (the day before Purim) falls on a Shabbat this year, the "Fast of Esther," usually observed on that date, is moved back to today.

The fast -- which is observed today by all adults (i.e., over bar or bat mitzvah age) -- is in commemoration of the three-day fast called at Esther's behest before she risked her life to appear unsummoned before King Achashveirosh to save the Jewish people from Haman's evil decree (as related in the Book of Esther, chapter 4). The fast also commemorates Esther's fasting on the 13th of Adar, as the Jews fought their enemies (see "Today in Jewish History" for Adar 13). No food or drink is partaken of from daybreak to nightfall. Pregnant of nursing woman or people in ill health are exempted from fasting.

 Giving of "Half Coins"   Less
 

In commemoration of the half shekel contributed by each Jew to the Holy Temple -- and which the Talmud credits as having counteracted the 10,000 silver coins Haman gave to King Achashverosh to obtain the royal decree calling for the extermination of the Jewish people -- it is customary to give three coins in "half denomination" (e.g., the half-dollar coins) to charity on the afternoon of the Fast of Esther. (In many synagogues, plates are set out with silver half-dollars, so that all could purchase them to use in observance of this custom).

Links: Parshat Shekalim; the mystical significance of the half-shekel

 Earliest Day for Megillah Reading   Less
 

In Talmudic times, a special stipulation allowed for Jews living in small villages or hamlets to hear the reading of the Megillah (Book of Esther) on the Monday or Thursday before Purim -- the days when villagers would come to town because the courts were in session. Depending on the year's configuration, this meant that the Megillah could be read as early as the 11th of Adar or as late as the 15th -- but no earlier or later than these dates (Talmud, beginning of Tractate Megillah).

Link: The Book of Esther with commentary

 







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