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Monday, May 1, 2017

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Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 20 - Yesod sheb'Tifferet
Tonight Count 21
Jewish History

The British mandate to govern the Holy Land expired on Friday, May 14, 1948. A United Nations resolution passed six months earlier endorsed the establishment of a Jewish state in the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. That afternoon, the state of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv. The date -- Iyar 5 on the Jewish calendar -- is celebrated in Israel as the Israeli "Independence Day."

Laws and Customs

“The Sages of old instituted, yet in the times of the Holy Temple, that thirty days before the onset of a holiday the teachers should begin publicly instructing the masses regarding the laws of the holiday; e.g. from Purim and onwards to teach the laws of Passover, and from the 5th of Iyar and onwards to teach the laws of Shavuot” (Shulchan Aruch Harav 429:1).

Tomorrow is the twenty-first 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 twenty-one days, which are three 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'Tifferet -- "Receptiveness 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."

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

Daily Thought

The life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years, the years of the life of Sarah. (Genesis 23:1)

All of them were equally good.—Rashi.

In which direction does your life move?
To wherever you have placed its arrow.

If the arrow points forever backward, to blame the present on the past and script the future accordingly, then what is to make life worth its pain, the story worth its struggle?

But if the arrow points forward to an unfolding destiny, then every pain becomes the cracking of a shell, every travail the shedding of a cocoon; as an olive releasing its oil to the press, a seedling breaking its path to rock and soil to reach the sun. What is the pain relative to the promise it holds?

And so Sarah looked back after 127 years, and all her days, even the darkest, the weariest, even those when she was held a prisoner in the depths of evil of Pharaoh’s palace—all were good and filled with beauty. 

Likutei Sichot, vol. 5, pg. 92.