שבת ט' בכסלו תשפ"ג 03/12/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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Reflections

Chagai Hanavi

On the first of Ellul in the year 3406 the prophet Chagai transmitted his first prophecy, in which he reprimanded the Jewish people for their tardiness in erecting the second Beis haMikdash. According to the poskim it is fitting to recite the verses of this prophecy on this day.

M Shukar 21/08/2009 09:00
The period in which Chagai the prophet lived extended from the time of the destruction of the First Beis haMikdash until the early years of the Second Temple. His sefer is the tenth of the ‘Trei-Asar’ and consists of only two chapters. These chapters deal mainly with encouraging the remnants of the Jewish people who remained in exile, and convincing them to return to Hashem in teshuvah. In this sense, his prophecy is similar to that of Zechariah the prophet, who lived during the same period.

Despite the fact that eighteen years had passed since Koresh, the king of Persia, had given his consent to the rebuilding of the Beis haMikdash, no action had yet been taken towards this. The general condition of the Jews at the time was not the best; the enthusiasm that was described in the sefer of Ezra haSofer had degenerated into a depressed and subdued state of mind.

In the second year of the reign of Darius the First, on the first of Ellul, the prophet Chagai transmitted his prophecy, which was chiefly intended for Zeruvavel ben Shaltiel, the Nasi of Yehudah, and for Yehoshua ben Yehoitzedek, the Kohen Gadol. The prophecy included an open rebuke for their delay in the rebuilding of the Beis haMikdash; “So says the L-rd of H-sts – this people said that the time had not yet come – but it is the time now to rebuild the house of the L-rd.”

Chagai continued with his criticism in Hashem’s Name, adding that everyone was only concerned with his own matters and his own home and that the house of Hashem lay in ruins and there was no man who took it to heart. Therefore he had come to inform them that drought, plague and a curse had been decreed upon the work of their hands, their offspring and the offspring of their animals.

This harsh prophecy awakened the hearts of Zeruvavel, Yehoshua and the people, and they now girded themselves and set to work.

The prophet then promised the people that despite the lack of resources available with which to build, nevertheless ‘the glory of the Second Temple would be greater than the glory of the First’, and he encouraged them not to delay any longer in commencing the reconstruction.

From the descriptions brought in the poskim, it emerges that Chagai was at that time around seventy years of age, if not older, and that he had been present at the time of the destruction of the First Temple. This was derived from the verse; “Who of them remained who saw the Temple in its original glory.” Further support for this is found explicitly in maseches Zevachim (daf 62 amud aleph), where Rabi Eliezer ben Yaakov testifies that “Three prophets accompanied them as they returned from exile – one who told them of the nature of the mizbeyach and its location – one who told them that they must perform the sacrifices even when there was no Temple – and one who told them of the Torah that was written in Ashuris script.” These three prophets were Chagai, Zechariah and Malachi, in whose names many halachic rulings are cited in the Talmud.

Not all the prophecies of Chagai were transmitted on the first of Ellul. The second prophecy was said on the seventh day of Sukkos, and the final prophecies were said on the 24th of Kislev – but all dealt with the matter of the Temple.

In the course of the verses, the attempts of Chagai are described to ascertain the proficiency of the Kohanim in the laws of tumah and taharah. Many years had passed since the Churban, and he had to know if those charged with carrying out the sacrificial service were competent in the relevant halachos. In the Talmud there is a disagreement between the Amoraim as to whether or not the Kohanim were able to answer the halachic questions posed to them.

The call of the prophet Chagai fell on receptive ears and bore fruit. Four years later, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius, the Second Beis haMikdash was already standing. It is proper to emphasise that in sefer Ezra as well, the prophet Chagai is described as one of the prophets who encouraged and persuaded the people to hurry and build the House of the L-rd. This new Temple was eventually destroyed by Herod, who erected in its place an even more magnificent structure, to which Chazal refer, saying that “whoever did not see the Temple when it was standing, never in his life saw a beautiful building.” According to the Gemora this refers to the edifice build by Herod.

At the conclusion of sefer Chagai, there are a string of promises and verses of encouragement to the people, and Zeruvavel also merited a special mention, with regard to the reestablishment of the monarchy.

The author of the sefer ‘Kaf haChaim’ brings (siman 581, se’if 15); “the ‘Nezirus Shimshon’ wrote that on the second day of Rosh Chodesh Ellul one should recite the first part of the prophecy of Chagai until the second section, and the reason is that this prophecy was said on this day, and therefore there is a mitzvah to recite it on this day.”

This prophecy was one of the last that were ever given, since after the passing of these three prophets, no new prophets arose. In maseches Sotah (daf 48, amud beis) it is written; “The Rabbonim teach – when Chagai, Zechariah and Malachi died, Ruach haKodesh departed from Yisrael…”