On this day in 1601, Hebrew books that had been confiscated by Church authorities were burned in Rome. This was an unfortunate theme throughout the Middle Ages: In 1592, Pope Clement VIII had condemned the Talmud and other Hebrew writings as "obscene," "blasphemous" and "abominable" -- and ordered them all seized and burned. Centuries earlier, Pope Gregory IX persuaded French King Louis IX to burn some 10,000 copies of the Talmud (24 wagon loads) in Paris. As late as 1553, Cardinal Peter Caraffa (the future Pope Paul IV) ordered copies of the Talmud burned in the Papal States and across Italy. Yet despite all attempts to extinguish our faith, the light of Torah shines brightly till today.
Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the founder and dean of Aish HaTorah. Rabbi Weinberg is widely regarded as the "father of the baal teshuva movement" that has profoundly transformed the Jewish people and the world. He began Aish HaTorah in 1974 with five students in a small apartment in Jerusalem's Old City. Under his tutelage, Aish HaTorah grew to branches on five continents with innovative educational programs like the Discovery Seminar, Jerusalem Fellowships leadership program, Hasbara Fellowships for Israel activism, HonestReporting.com, and of course, Aish.com. His warmth, wit, extraordinary wisdom, sense of responsibility, positive message and love for all people helped tens of thousands get more meaning out of life and experience a relationship with God. Much of his wisdom is encapsulated in the widely-circulated tape series, "48 Ways to Wisdom."