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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

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Passover - 8th Day
Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day Seven - Malchut sheb'Chessed
Tonight Count 8
Jewish History

Eight days following his birth on the 15th of Nissan (see Jewish history for that day), Isaac was circumcised; becoming the very first child to enter the covenant with G-d on the eighth day following his birth.

Links:
Why do we have a Circumcision?
The Commandment of Circumcision, the Brit Milah

Shortly after crossing the Jordan River and entering the Land of Canaan, the Jews set their sights on conquering the walled and heavily fortified city of Jericho. Following Joshua's instructions, on the 22nd of Nissan the Israelites encircled Jericho. The Israelites marched around the city walls, led by the priests who carried the Holy Ark, and sounded the shofar (ram's horn).

This performance was repeated for seven days. On the seventh day, the walls of the city collapsed. (see Jewish History for the 28th of Nissan).

Links:
Crossing the Jordan
Joshua 6

Laws and Customs

On the Eighth Day of Passover we read Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17. Like the reading for the second day, it catalogs the annual cycle of festivals, their special observances, and the offerings brought on these occasions to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

The Eighth Day's special connection with the Future Redemption is reflected in the Haftorah (reading from the Prophets) for this day--Isaiah 10:32-12:6.

Yizkor, the remembrance prayer for departed parents, is recited today after the morning reading of the Torah.

Links:
The Yizkor Prayer
Honor Due to Parents
On Breavement and Mourning

The last day of Passover ("Acharon Shel Pesach") is particularly associated with Moshiach and the future redemption. The Haftarah (reading from the Prophets) for this day is from Isaiah 11, which describes the promised future era of universal peace and divine perfection. Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov instituted the custom of partaking of a "Moshiach's meal" on the afternoon of the last day of Passover; in addition to the matzah eaten at "Moshiach's meal", the Rebbes of Chabad added the custom of drinking four cups of wine, as in the seder held on Passover's first days.

Links:
Haftarah for 8th of Passover
The Third Seder
Moshiach: an Anthology

Tomorrow is the eighth 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 eight days, which are one week and one day, 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: Chessed sheb'Gevurah -- "Kindness 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

Along the path to Torah is the splitting of the sea.

What is the sea? It is the thick blanket of materialism that smothers the fire of the G‑dly soul. With a miracle, it is ripped away and the truth revealed. Only then can the Torah be received.

Don’t imagine you can keep your belief in a materialist world and append to it a Torah consciousness. The sea of concealment must part and the world must be seen for what it truly is: A G‑dly place ever awaiting miracles.

Acharon Shel Pesach 5734. Sefer Hasichot 5751 vol. 2, pg. 857.