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Thursday, March 28, 2013

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Passover (Chol Hamoed)
Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day Two - Gevurah sheb'Chessed
Tonight Count 3
Jewish History

Rabbi Yisrael Noach, son of the third Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, headed the yeshivah in Lubavitch during his father’s lifetime. He was known for his great humility and the many hours he would spend praying with intense emotions and concentration. Known as the "Maharin from Niezhen," he was one of Rabbi Menachem Mendel’s consultants in matters of Jewish thought, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel would delegate to him many of the questions he would receive.

Following his father's passing in 1866, he relocated to Niezhen where he served as a chassidic master.

He was interred in Niezhen next to his illustrious grandfather, the second Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch.

Laws and Customs

Of the eight days of Passover, the first two and the last two are "yom tov" (festival days). The middle four days are called chol hamoed--"weekdays of the festival," also called "the intermediate days." (In Israel, where Passover is observed for seven days, the first and last days are yom tov, and the middle five days are chol hamoed).

The yom tov days are days of rest, during which all creative work is forbidden, as it is on the Shabbat, with the exception of certain types of work associated with food preparation (e.g., cooking and "carrying"). On chol hamoed the prohibition of work is less stringent--work whose avoidance would result in "significant loss" is permitted (except when chol hamoed is also Shabbat, when all work is forbidden).

The "Yaale V'yavo" prayer is included in all prayers and Grace After Meals. Hallel (partial) and Musaf are recited following the Shacharit (morning) prayers. It is the Chabad custom not to put on tefillin during the "intermediate days".

Click here for a more detailed treatment of the laws of Chol Hamoed.

Click here for a summary of the Passover Torah readings.

Tomorrow is the third 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 three days 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: Tifferet sheb'Chessed -- "Harmony in Kindness"

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

There will come a time, very soon, when we will be shown miracles so great, they will make the Ten Plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea appear as ordinary as nature itself.

So great, no mind can begin to fathom them;
so powerful, they will transform the very fabric of our world, elevating it in a way that the wonders of the Exodus could not achieve.
For then, our eyes will be opened and granted the power to see the greatest of miracles.

And what are those miracles? Those that occur to us now, beneath our very noses, every day.

Maamar Kimei Tzeit’cha 5712.