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In Preparation for Purim

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Shas party, had a go at Mahmous Ahmadinejad, during his weekly Saturday evening sermon. He called the Iranian president the “Haman of our generation” referring to the upcoming Purim holiday, and added the he “can go to hell”.

The rabbi, whose address was centered on the laws of Purim, spoke about the followers of Haman, the grand vizier of Persia.

“In every generation we have Hamans,”

he said.

“Now we have a new Haman in Persia, threatening us with his nukes.”

He went on to further curse the Iranian leader, using verses from the Bible.

In the halachic part of his sermon, Rabbi Yosef made the ruling that Sephardic students in Ashkenazi yeshivot should not take part in the prayer quorum on the Saturday before Purim in order to read the “Zachor” Torah portion separately, in keeping with their custom.

He explained that listening to the verses, which discuss Amalek’s war on Israel, is a Torah mitzvah and therefore each person must do it according to the common pronunciation of their own community.

Rabbi Yosef did not miss an opportunity to tease the Ashkenazim. After imitating the way they read that Torah portion, he said,

“The Sephardim’s pronunciation is the real one. Their accent is wrong. But they insist. They’re stubborn… They don’t want to change. Even their Ashkenazim testify that our pronunciation is the right one, the truth.”

Don’t take the Sun for granted

Have you ever wondered why the sun is considered as being so important that it has often been worshiped as having god-like powers – even like being a god? The answer is simply that because the sun’s importance to life on earth is so obvious, since life itself is impossible without it’s light and warmth.

The first few lines of the Book of Genesis in the Bible state that “the earth was without form or void, and darkness covered the face of the deep”. Enter the light and warmth of the sun, which changed everything and caused a “separation between the “light and the darkness and darkness and the light” that resulted in life being formed on an otherwise dark and shapeless mass of stone. Jewish tradition notes that once during a period of 28 years, a special prayer dealing with the Creation is said on the eve of Passover when the sun rises. This year, in the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, and in the year 5769, which observant Jews say is the period of years from the actual Creation, a special prayer is said give thanks to the Devine Creator. The prayer goes like this:

“Baruch Atah Adonay, Elohenu Melech Haolam, Oseh Maaseh B’reshit” – Blessed be Thou, O’Lord, King of the Universe, who performs the act of Creation

Creation – the sun – without the sun there would be no creation. The position of the sun in relation to the earth is only part of the reason why this special prayer is only said once every 28 years. Other factors, both physical and spiritual, have to be present as well, and for this reason, the prayer is only recited so seldom.

Those who regularly study the Talmud, that all import set of books of Jewish knowledge, know that the answer as to why this prayer is recited once every 28 years, is found in section known as Brahot (Blessings) , section 59 B. Those seeking the answer can find it there. Or, you can simply recite the prayer tomorrow at dawn, when the first rays of the sun appear on the eastern horizon.

If it’s cloudy where you are, say the prayer anyway. G-d will hear you.

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