Day 1: Shabbat Edition
(Parshat Re'eh)

The Daily Blast

Abbie Levin
Senior Vice President
The Jewish Federation
of Cleveland

Welcome to The 30 Day Elul Learning Challenge 2022 from Abbie Levin and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

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Today In Jewish History

Elul 1 – Second Temple, Take -Two  – 353 BCE

On this day in 353 BCE, the prophets Chagai and Zecharia prophesied that Zrubavel should continue the building of the second temple in Jerusalem.  The second commonwealth of Israel had very difficult beginnings. Already in the year 371 BCE, King Cyrus of Persia (who controlled Israel) permitted the Jews to return to Israel and rebuild their Temple.  Zerubavel, a descendant of King David and the presumptive monarch, led 40,000 Jews back to Israel.  Most of the Jews stayed in Babylon.  The Jews that returned began building the Temple immediately. 

After the Jews were sent into the Babylonian exile, the Samaritans filled the land of Israel, and they were not willing to give up their homes based on ancestral claims (sound familiar).  They appealed to King Cyrus to withdraw his authorization, and he acquiesced.  Then, the Purim story happened.  Esther became queen of Persia. She and Achashversoh had a son Darius II.  He succeeded his father as King of Persia.  He would give the blessing for the Jews to continue building their Temple in Israel, but the Samaritans would continue to be a thorn in the side of the Jews for another 20 years.  

The settlement would still have its challenges.  Ezra would come with a small group in 348 BCE.  The majority would remain in Babylon.  He established the Anshei Kenesses HaGedolah as the governing body.  It wouldn’t be until Nechemia would come in 335 BCE that the fledgling country would finally find some stability, and begin to thrive.  

Daily Sources

רְאֵה אָנֹכִי נֹתֵן לִפְנֵיכֶם הַיּוֹם בְּרָכָה וּקְלָלָה

See! I give you today (a choice of) a blessing and a curse. The blessing, when you listen to the commandments of God your Lord, which I command you today. The curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of God your Lord, and you deviate from the path which I command you today, in order to follow other gods which you did not know.’

-Deut. 11:26-28

See I have placed before you today life and good, and death and evil … I call upon heaven and earth to witness against you, life and death I have placed in front of you, the blessing and the curse – choose life in order that you and your children can live!

-Deut. 30:19

See! I give you today (literally, ‘I place before you’) a blessing and a curse. ‘Before you’ and not ‘on you,’ for no evil descends from heaven, rather it is placed before you. The choice is yours.

Torat Haham 419:3

Daily Quotes

"If you prepare yourself at every point as well as you can, with whatever means you may have, however meager they may seem, you will be able to grasp opportunity for broader experience when it appears. Without preparation you cannot do it."

ֿ-Eleanor Roosevelt


"The only thing that endures over time is the 'Law of the Farm.' You must prepare the ground, plant the seed, cultivate, and water if you expect to reap the harvest."

-Stephen Covey

"You hit home runs not by chance but by preparation."

- Roger Maris

Daily Goals

Rosh Hashanah Is Coming!

We face a judgment during these Days of Awe.

Judgment sounds daunting and negative. Why does God judge us every year?

An answer is nestled in another name that Rosh Hashanah has. In the Machzor it is called Yom Hazikaron, the Day of Remembrance. On Rosh Hashanah, as we stand before God all the moments of the past year — the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – the ones we remember and the ones we forget, all of them are right there, in living color, before God who forgets nothing. On Rosh Hashanah every moment is remembered, looked at and judged.

God’s judgment isn’t to exact revenge. His judgment means that He cares about everything we do. Our actions matter. Through judgment, God makes us aware that our choices make a real difference. Our lives are significant; we are responsible for shaping the world. And that meaning and responsibility is a tremendous cause for celebration.

Let’s get ready for Rosh Hashanah by living a little better today than yesterday. Let’s make sure to perform some kindness, study some Torah and take our next step in growth, whatever it may be. And let’s look in the mirror and see where we are guilty and resolve to do better.

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