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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Pesach Sheini ("Second Passover")
Halachic Times (Zmanim)
To view Halachic Times click here to set your location
Omer: Day 29 - Chessed sheb'Hod
Tonight Count 30
Jewish History

A year after the Exodus, G-d instructed the people of Israel to bring the Passover offering on the afternoon of Nissan 14, and to eat it that evening, roasted over the fire, together with matzah and bitter herbs, as they had done on the previous year just before they left Egypt. "There were, however, certain persons who had become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, and could not, therefore, prepare the Passover offering on that day. They approached Moses and Aaron ... and they said: '...Why should we be deprived, and not be able to present G-d's offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?'" (Numbers 9).

In response to their plea, G-d established the 14th of Iyar as a "second Passover" (pesach sheini) for anyone who was unable to bring the offering on its appointed time in the previous month. The day thus represents the "second chance" achieved by teshuvah the power of repentance and "return." In the words of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch, "The Second Passover means that it's never a 'lost case.'"

Links:
The Second Passover
A Second Chance

Rabbi Meir, a second century scholar and scribe, was among the foremost disciples of Rabbi Akiba. His colleagues called him Meir because he "enlightened the eyes of the sages" with his genius and scholarship ("Meir" comes from the Hebrew word "Or," light).

Rabbi Meir's long life was rife with personal tragedy (see the links below for details). Aside for his personal travails, he lived in the troubled times following the destruction of the second Holy Temple. After his beloved teacher, Rabbi Akiva, was executed by the Romans, he fled to Babylon until the persecutions eased up.

His wisdom and teachings are so often quoted in the Mishnah and Talmud that every anonymous teaching in the Mishnah is attributed to him.

His wife, Beruria, was also famous for her Torah knowledge, piety, and wisdom.

He is buried in the holy city of Tiberias.

Links:
Rabbi Meir
Beruriah

The Jews of Bisenz, Austria were massacred on the 14th of Iyar, 5365 (1605).

Following the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany in the year 1933, the Nazis burned thousands of books written by Jews—and others deemed "Un-German"—on the 14 of Iyar of that year.

Adolf Eichmann, a key party in implementing of Hitler's "final solution," was captured by agents of the Israeli "Mossad" in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eichmann was in charge of all transportation required for the shipment of Jews to the extermination camps. The height of his career was reached in Hungary in 1944, when he managed to transport 400,000 Jews to the gas chambers in less than five weeks.

After the war, Eichmann fled to Argentina and lived under the assumed name of Ricardo Klement for ten years until Israeli Mossad agents abducted him on May 11, 1960 and smuggled him out of the country to stand trial in Jerusalem for his crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

During the four months of the trial over one hundred witnesses testified against him. Eichmann took the stand and used the defense that he was just obeying orders. "Why me," he asked. "Why not the local policemen, thousands of them? They would have been shot if they had refused to round up the Jews for the death camps. Everybody killed the Jews."

Eichmann was found guilty on all counts, sentenced to death and hanged at Ramleh Prison on May 31, 1962.

Laws and Customs

It is customary to eat matzah today to mark the "Second Passover" (see "Today in Jewish History").

Tomorrow is the thirtieth 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 thirty days, which are four weeks and 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'Hod -- "Restraint 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

To create is to reveal the parts from the whole.

To repair takes a greater wisdom. It is to discover the whole from the shattered parts.

He creates a world, knowing it will be broken, so He may empower us with that wisdom to repair.