Tammuz 15

January 7, 2010

2 min read


In the Hebrew year 2448 (1312 BCE), Chur, the son of Miriam, was killed when he stood up and tried to dissuade the Israelites from building the Golden Calf. As a reward for giving his life to preserve Jewish faith, Chur merited to have a grandson, Betzalel, who became the architect of the Tabernacle; the great King Solomon descended from him as well. During that tense time in the desert, Moses' brother Aaron used a different strategy to stop the Golden Calf: He pretended to agree to building the Calf, but suggested that they wait until the following day. Aaron hoped that by then Moses would return to the camp and resolve the issue peacefully.

Tammuz 15 is also the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Chaim Ibn Attar (1696-1743), a holy man known by the title of his biblical commentary, Ohr HaChaim. Ohr HaChaim earned his livelihood as a silversmith, yet he always made Torah study his primary occupation. He would sit engrossed in study, and only when his last coin was spent did he engage in worldly matters. Ohr HaChaim once mistakenly caused an affront to the King of Morocco, who had him thrown into a pit of lions. Ohr HaChaim put on his tallit and tefillin, and when he was thrown into the pit, the lions gathered around him respectfully. Seeing this, the king proclaimed, "Now I know there is a God of Israel." Ohr HaChaim is credited with initiating the idea of placing a note in the Western Wall; he gave this advice to the Chida, one of his students who was traveling from Morocco to Israel. Ohr HaChaim eventually moved to Italy and spent the final few years of his life in Israel. Legend says that he would study in Jerusalem with Elijah the Prophet, in the same building where the Arizal was born two centuries earlier. Today, the grave of Ohr HaChaim, located on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, is a popular place of pilgrimage and prayer.

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