The fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (1834-1882), known by the acronym "Maharash", was born in the town of Lubavitch (White Russia) on the 2nd of Iyar of the year 5594 from creation (1834). His father, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (the 3rd Chabad Rebbe, known as the "Tzemach Tzeddek") once remarked that Rabbi Shmuel's birthday, coinciding with the 17th day of the Omer Count, is defined by the Kabbalistic masters as Tifferet sheb'Tifferet ("Beauty of Beauty")
Although Rabbi Shmuel was the youngest of Rabbi Menachem Mendel's seven sons, he was chosen to succeed his father as "rebbe" and leader of Chabad in the movement's capital, Lubavitch (four of his brothers established branches of Chabad Chassidism in other towns in White Russia and Ukraine). In addition to leading his Chassidim, guiding and advising their spiritual and material lives and authoring many maamarim (discourses of Chassidic teaching), Rabbi Shmuel traveled extensively throughout Europe, meeting with government and business leaders to exert pressure on the Czarist regime to halt its instigation of pogroms against the Jews of Russia.
Rabbi Shmuel passed away at age 48 on the 13th of Tishrei, 5643 (1882).
Tomorrow is the eighteenth 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 eighteen days, which are two weeks and four 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:Netzach sheb'Tifferet-- "Ambition in Harmony"
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."
If it is to be lived with purpose, life is a delicate balancing act of body and soul, heaven and earth. It requires two feet firmly upon the ground and a clear head high up in the air. Only then are you the master.
In a rush, you are not in control of your world—the world is in control of you. Place your foot gently on the brakes, slow down, switch gears from madness to mind. Reclaim mastery.