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Rambam - Sefer HaMitzvos
As Divided for The Daily Learning Schedule

Negative Mitzvah 356

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This is not an error of duplication. The full-fledged version of this Mitzvah are many and change for those who are learning the one/three chapter a day. The Message for the day from "Bringing Heaven Down to Earth" at the end of this Mitzvah is different than that of yesterday.
Negative Mitzvah 356: It is forbidden to remarry one's divorced wife who married and divorced a second time
Deuteronomy 24:4 "Then her former (first) husband who sent her away may not take her again to be his wife"

A man who divorces his wife is forbidden to remarry her if she married another man and then, was divorced a second time or was widowed from her second husband.

(If she did not marry another man, he is permitted to marry her again.)


Two miracles, as related in the Babylonian Talmud and elaborated many times by the Rebbe:

On his travels, Rabbi Akiva took a donkey to free him from carrying his load, a rooster to wake him up early and a lamp to study by night. (The Rebbe would comment at this point that this is in contradistinction to the general custom today to take a credit card and a toothbrush.)

Rabbi Akiva was a great sage who taught, among other things, that everything the All-Merciful does is for the good. Once the All- Merciful arranged for Rabbi Akiva to arrive at a walled town too late in the day, when the gates were already locked. He told himself it is all for the good and slept in the woods outside.

That night was full of disaster. When Rabbi Akiva sat down to study by the light of his lamp, a gust of wind blew it out. "Nu," he said, "everything is for the good" -- and he lay down to sleep. After all, his rooster would wake him at the first hint of dawn.

But then, a fox attacked his rooster and ran off with it between his jaws. "Somehow," Rabbi Akiva said, "this is also for the good". And he fell asleep. It was the middle of the night when the donkey ended up prey to a lion. Rabbi Akiva mourned for the donkey, but rejoiced at the great good that -- somehow, in some way -- was being done for him. And he fell back into a deep sleep. In the morning he woke to find the town had been ransacked and burnt to the ground. "See," he said, "everything was for the good. Had I slept in the town, had my lamp burned, my rooster crowed or my donkey neighed, I would have been a target for the same pillagers that attacked that town!" Rabbi Akiva saw it was for the good -- but he did not see the good within the events themselves He only saw that through these unfortunate events he was saved from an even more unfortunate one...

*

One of Rabbi Akiva's teachers was a man named Nachum of Gamzu. "Gam zu" was a place, but it also means "even this". Nachum always would repeat the words, "Even this is good."

Nachum, being an honest man, was chosen as the emissary of the Jews to present a chest of precious stones to the Caesar. All the way to Rome Nachum guarded the chest with his life. But on the last leg of the journey, an innkeeper surreptitiously exchanged the precious stones for sand. By the time Nachum discovered the ploy, it was too late to turn back. So he happily exclaimed, "This is fantastic! I shall do my job as emissary of the Jewish People, and G-d will fill in the rest!" -- and continued his way to the Caesar.

"Your majesty, " he proclaimed before the royal throne, "The Jews send you a gift!" And he opened the chest of sand. Nobody was very impressed. When the Caesar had him thrown into a dungeon for his "mockery", Nachum joyously repeated his saying, "Even this is good!" That's when the miracle occurred: One of Caesar's advisors (actually Elijah the Prophet in disguise) suggested that this sand may have magical powers. "After all," he explained, "the Jews have a legend that their forefather, Abraham, vanquished four kings and their armies using magical sand that turned into arrows when thrown."

The Caesar agreed -- and the Romans had no lack of wars to experiment with. The sand was issued to the Roman legions fighting in Gaul, and before long, news of a great, miraculous victory was reported. Nachum was released and abundantly rewarded. He was delighted -- but not the least bit surprised. He simply commented, "After all, everything is good. If I had brought jewels, the Caesar might have thrown them back in my face. But sand...!" (By the way, the innkeeper got his own in the end. You see, when he got wind of the story, the poor fool also came to Rome, pulling a wagon load of his plain, ordinary sand for the Roman Legions...)

*

There are two paths: One: Everything is for the good. Perhaps not immediately, but eventually. The other: Everything is truly good -- it's just a matter of holding firm a little longer, unperturbed by the phantoms of our limited vision, unimpressed by the paper tiger that calls itself a world, and eventually we will be granted a heart to understand and eyes to see. Eventually, it will become obvious good in our world as well.

Nachum Ish Gam Zu was capable of revealing the innate good of every event in life -- that the secret of each thing is truly good. And so, for him, it was that way.

From: Bringing Heaven Down to Earth by Tzvi Freeman - tzvif@aol.com


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