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Shabbat, May 18, 2019

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 28 - Malchut sheb'Netzach
Tonight Count 29
Jewish History

The Jews of Berne, Switzerland were expelled on this date in 1427. Berne had a long history of expulsions and anti-Jewish riots.

Rabbi Yisrael Aryeh Leib, brother of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, was the youngest of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and Chana Schneerson's three sons.

Born in Nikolayev in 1909, he quickly became renowned as a scholar of exceptional genius. At a young age, Yisrael Aryeh Leib was already teaching Tanya, the mystical foundational work of Chabad Chassidism, to an audience of eager adults.

He eventually immigrated to Israel, and in his later years he moved to Liverpool, England, to study in the local university. It was there that he passed away in 1952.

Rabbi Yisrael Aryeh Leib is interred in Safed, Israel.

Laws and Customs

In preparation for the festival of Shavuot, we study one of the six chapters of the Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers ("Avot") on the afternoon of each of the six Shabbatot between Passover and Shavuot; this week we study Chapter Three. (In many communities -- and such is the Chabad custom -- the study cycle is repeated through the summer, until the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah.)

Link: Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 3

Tomorrow is the twenty-ninth 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-nine days, which are four weeks 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'Hod -- "Kindness in Humility"

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

All the souls of these generations have been here before. And they come with their baggage—both good and not so good.

But there is a distinction:

The good the soul has collected is eternal. It can never be uprooted, it can never fade away, for it is G‑dly, and G‑d does not change.

But the bad is not a thing of substance. It is an emptiness, a vacancy of light. As the soul makes its journey, through trials and travails, through growth and renewal, that darkness falls away, never to return.

Know yourself only as you are here in this life, and the challenges of our times are beyond perseverance.

Tap into the reservoir of your soul from the past, and find there the unimaginable powers of millennia.

Maamar Bila Hamavet.