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Friday, April 20, 2012

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Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 13 - Yesod sheb'Gevurah
Tonight Count 14
Jewish History

On the seventh day of the encirclement of Jericho (see Jewish History for the 22nd of Nissan), the Jews, accompanied by the Holy Ark, circled the city seven times. After the blowing of the shofar, the walls miraculously crashed and sank, leaving the city open and unprotected. Jericho was easily conquered, becoming the first fortified Canaanite city to fall to the Children of Israel in their conquest of the Promised Land.

Links:
Joshua chapter six with commentary
Crossing the Jordan

The Buchenwald concentration camp was founded in 1937 near the town of Weimar, Germany. Approximately 250,000 prisoners were incarcerated in this camp until its liberation in 1945.

Weimar is a German city known for its highly cultured citizenry. It was the home of many of the upper class intellectual members of Europe’s society. Among others, Goethe, Schiller, Franz Liszt, and Bach lived in Weimar.

Though technically not an extermination camp, approximately 56,000 prisoners were murdered in Buchenwald (not including many others who died after being transferred to other extermination camps). They died from vicious medical experiments, summary executions, torture, beatings, starvation, and inhuman work conditions. The camp was also known for its brutality. German officers would force inmates to eat their meager soup ration off the mud on the ground; would keep them standing in the cold until they froze to death; and they would even use skin of dead inmates to make lamp shades.

On the 29th of Nissan 1945 the Sixth Armored Division of the United States Third Army liberated the camp.

Among the more famous inmates who spent time in Buchenwald are Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel, and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.

Links:
The Holocaust
Ethics Based on Torah

On the eve of Nissan 28, 5751 (April 11, 1991), the Lubavitcher Rebbe issued an emotional call to his followers, and to the world Jewish community, to increase their efforts to bring Moshiach and the ultimate redemption. Spoken in an anguished voice and couched in uncharacteristically personal terms, the Rebbe's words deeply shocked the Chassidim present in the Rebbe's synagogue and reverberated worldwide. "How is it that the Redemption has not yet been attained?" the Rebbe cried. "That despite all that has transpired and all that has been done, Moshiach has still not come? What more can I do? I have done all I can to bring the world to truly demand and clamor for the Redemption...The only thing that remains for me to do is to give over the matter to you. Do all that is in your power to achieve this thing--a most sublime and transcendent light that needs to be brought down into our world with pragmatic tools... I have done all I can. I give it over to you. Do all that you can to bring the righteous redeemer, immediately! I have done my part. From this point on, all is in your hands..."

Links:
Transmission
Moshiach: an Anthology
Moshiach and the Future Redemption

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the fourteenth day of the Omer Count. Since, on the Jewish calendar, the day begins at nightfall of the previous evening, we count the omer for tomorrow's date tonight, after nightfall: "Today is fourteen days, which are two weeks, to the Omer." (If you miss the count tonight, you can count the omer all day tomorrow, but without the preceding blessing).

The 49-day "Counting of the Omer" retraces our ancestors' seven-week spiritual journey from the Exodus to Sinai. Each evening we recite a special blessing and count the days and weeks that have passed since the Omer; the 50th day is Shavuot, the festival celebrating the Giving of the Torah at Sinai.

Tonight's Sefirah: Malchut sheb'Gevurah -- "Receptiveness in Restraint"

The teachings of Kabbalah explain that there are seven "Divine Attributes" -- Sefirot -- that G-d assumes through which to relate to our existence: Chessed, Gevurah, Tifferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut ("Love", "Strength", "Beauty", "Victory", "Splendor", "Foundation" and "Sovereignty"). In the human being, created in the "image of G-d," the seven sefirot are mirrored in the seven "emotional attributes" of the human soul: Kindness, Restraint, Harmony, Ambition, Humility, Connection and Receptiveness. Each of the seven attributes contain elements of all seven--i.e., "Kindness in Kindness", "Restraint in Kindness", "Harmony in Kindness", etc.--making for a total of forty-nine traits. The 49-day Omer Count is thus a 49-step process of self-refinement, with each day devoted to the "rectification" and perfection of one the forty-nine "sefirot."

Links:
How to count the Omer
The deeper significance of the Omer Count

Daily Thought

G‑d speaks with us at every moment.
His words form the world we see about us.

A prophet is no more than one who catches those words before they congeal into space and time.