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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

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Passover - 2nd Day
Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day One - Chessed sheb'Chessed
Tonight Count 2
Jewish History

The wicked cities of the Sodom valley, including Sodom, Gemorrah, Admah and Zevoim, were overtuned in punishment of their sins. Only Lot, his wife and two daughters were saved. Lot's wife, however, turned into a pillar of salt when she failed to heed the Divine warning not to look back at the burning cities.

Links:
The Biblical account with commentary of Sodom's destruction
The Sins of Sodom

On the 16th of Nissan of the year 2488 from creation (1273 BCE), six days after the Children of Israel entered the Holy Land under the leadership of Joshua, their remaining supply of the miraculous "bread from heaven," which had sustained them since shortly after their exodus from Egypt 40 years earlier, ran out. (The manna had ceased falling on the previous Adar 7, the day of Moses' passing.) After bringing the "Omer" offering (see "Counting of the Omer" in Laws & Customs for yesterday, Nissan 15) at the Sanctuary they erected at Gilgal, the people prepared their (unleavened) bread for the first time from the produce of the land.

Links:
Bread From Heaven
More on the Manna

On the 3rd day of the fast proclaimed by Mordechai at her behest (see "Today in Jewish History" for Nissan 13), Queen Esther appeared unsummoned before King Achashverosh--a capital offence. The king, however, extended the royal sceptre to her, signifying his consent that she approach him. Esther requested that Achashverosh attend a private wine party with her and Haman (according to one opinion in the Talmud, her plan was to make Achashverosh jealous of her apparent friendship with Haman so that he would kill them both, thus saving the Jewish people from Haman's decree).

Link: See Timeline of the events connected with the Purim miracle

At the 2nd wine party she made for King Achashverosh and Haman, Queen Esther revealed her identity to the king and began to plead for her people, pointing to Haman as the evil schemer plotting to destroy them. When Charvonah, a royal servant, mentioned the gallows which Haman had prepared for Mordechai, the king ordered that Haman be hanged on them, opening the door for the Jews' salvation from Haman's decree (Book of Esther, chapter 7).

Link: See Timeline of the events connected with the Purim miracle

Laws and Customs

Click here for a summary of the Passover Torah readings.

In the evening prayers tonight, we begin substituting the phrase v'ten berachah... ("and grant blessing....") in place of the winter version of the blessing ("and grant dew and rain for blessing"), in the ninth blessing of the Amidah. This, in conjunction with the similar change enacted in the second blessing on the first day of Passover.

Tomorrow is the second 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 two 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: Gevurah sheb'Chessed -- "Restraint 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 was darkness and there was light. And He chose light.

He didn’t have to choose light. He could have chosen an eternal wrestling match of light and dark. What greater pleasure can there be than the aroma of darkness struck down and transformed to a throne for light?

Nevertheless, he chose light. He chose to set a time for the obliteration of darkness, a time of pure and perfect light. And what does He have from that?

He needs nothing from that. That is the plan He so desired.

Bati L’gani 5731.