Tuesday, May 15, 2007

28th Iyar - Shmuel HaNavi

Tomorrow is Yom Yerushalayim. No doubt everyone will be blogging about this important and wonderful modern festival.
In my day job at Torahlab.org I have just completed (just in the nick of time) a source sheet for students and a teachers' guide about Yom Yerushalayim. If you are a teacher, Rabbi, student or just plain interested you will find interesting and inspiring sources about Yom Yerushalayim. They can be downloaded (free of charge) from torahlab. Click on the link for the source booklet pdf and the teachers' guide pdf.

If you have time you should also visit their website: www.torahlab.org (even though hopefully in the next couple of days they will have a brand new website up and running at the same address). Click on my blog there - at the moment Rabbi Burton is leading with the most reads of his blog - help me out please!

(this is a cross posting from torahlab)
Yarzheit of Shmeul HaNavi
28th of Iyar, Yom Yerushalayim, also has another meaning in the Jewish calendar. According to tradition (Shulchan Aruch 580; 2, based on Megillat Ta’anit – although in the original it says 29th Iyar) it is the yarzheit of both Shmuel Hanavi, and his mother Chana. For hundreds of years on this date people would go to the grave of Shmuel Hanavi, which is on the Rama (part of former ‘east Jerusalem’). The original custom of lighting fires and torches was not on Lag B’Omer, but ten days later, on the 28th of Iyar. Rabbeinu Ovadiah Bartenura came to live in Israel, and writes back to his brother that people would gather from all around on the day of his death and light torches. (This is printed in Darkei Tzion – available here: The editor has emended the date, because he thinks it must be talking about Lag B’Omer and the Yarzheit of R’ Shimon Bar Yochai. Of course at the time of the Bartenura (which was before the printing of the Zohar) nobody thought that date was his yarzheit, nor do we have any record of fires on Lag B’Omer before the modern era).
King David and Shmuel the prophet met in Ramah one night (while David was fleeing from King Shaul) and figured out the exact location where the Temple should be built. Even though David himself was not permitted to build the Temple, he purchased the land and took the Ark there. David and Shmuel were both totally committed to Yerushalayim and making that the central capital of Israel (before David made it his capital there had been no central place of authority – Shiloh was the site of the Mishkan, but governance was localized within each tribe). The Talmud in Zevachim 54b learns from the verses in the chumash and shows how they figured out exactly where the Temple should be situated. Although Jerusalem is not mentioned explicitly in the Torah (though it is mentioned 656 times in the rest of Nach), David and Shmuel were able to figure out the place that G-d had chosen from before creation to be His resting place on earth.
In a beautiful quirk of history, the place where they met to figure out this location – Ramah – which is also the burial place of Shmuel, was also liberated in the Six Day War which we celebrate on Yom Yerushalayim.
Wishing you all a wonderful Yom Yerushalayim, and a happy bonfire day, and may the merit of the prophet Shmuel help us and protect us against all modern day enemies who want to diminish the greatness of Jerusalem as the center of Israel and the Jewish world.

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