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Shabbat, 24 Nissan, 5783

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day Nine - Gevurah sheb'Gevurah
Tonight Count 10
Jewish History

Two days after the Jews crossed the Red Sea (see Jewish History for the 21st of Nissan) they arrived in Marah. There they received several commandments; one of them was to observe the Shabbat. The first Shabbat was observed on the 24th of Nissan.

Links:
A Brief History of Shabbat
Shabbat Mega Site

Laws and Customs

This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim (“the Shabbat that blesses" the new month): a special prayer is recited blessing the Rosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") of the upcoming month of Iyar, which falls on Friday and Shabbat of the following week.

Prior to the blessing, we announce the precise time of the molad, the "birth" of the new moon. See molad times.

It is a Chabad custom to recite the entire book of Psalms before morning prayers, and to conduct farbrengens (chassidic gatherings) in the course of the Shabbat.

Links: Shabbat Mevarchim; Tehillim (the Book of Psalms); The Farbrengen

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, being the first Shabbat after Passover, we study Chapter One. (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 1

Tomorrow is the tenth 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 ten days, which are one week and three 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: Tifferet sheb'Gevurah -- "Harmony 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

Any animal that has a cloven hoof that is completely split into double hooves, and which brings up its cud —that one you may eat. (Leviticus 11:3)

All of us have an animal inside. Without it, we would never eat.

Only that this inner animal, to serve its purpose, must remain a kosher animal. And to do that, it needs hooves.

Hooves are like built-in shoes for animals—they lift them just a little above the earth.

Your animal, as well, needs to stay just a little above the earth.

When you eat, pause for a moment beforehand. Say a blessing on your food. Say it proud and clear.

That way, rather than your food pulling your animal down, you and your animal will lift your food up.

It's not a matter of being an angel. Walk on the earth.

But if you don't want to sink into the earth, you need to walk just a little higher.

Likutei Sichot vol. 1, pg. 222.