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ב"ה
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Shabbat, 29 Nissan, 5782

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 14 - Malchut sheb'Gevurah
Tonight Count 15
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 Sunday and Monday 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 fifteenth 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 fifteen days, which are two 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'Tifferet -- "Kindness 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

Tonight begins the first day of Rosh Chodesh Iyar.

Daily Thought

How could it be that a prayer goes unanswered?

Some will tell you that every prayer is answered, but sometimes the answer is, “no”.

Those who say this do not understand the secret of prayer. For prayer is when a human being below burns down the walls of his or her own ego, bringing delight to the One Above. And when delight is brought Above, it must return below.

So some will tell you that, yes, the prayer is always answered, but perhaps only in a spiritual realm. Not always can a prayer affect the coarseness of our material world.

But this cannot be, for the human being below did not pray for a spiritual blessing, but for a material one. To the place from which the prayer came, to there the blessing must return.

Rather, it must be that every prayer is answered, in our world, now, for the one who prayed and for that which he prayed.

The problem is only in the packaging—that it is wrapped up in the messy business of our coarse and dark world, so that at times we cannot see through the wrappings to discover the answer to our prayer.

But there will be a time when all of us will return to the One Above with all our hearts, and then all the concealment of this world will be shattered. The wrappings will fall away and we will see how each prayer was answered in its time. And we will hold all the blessings of all those millennia in our hands.

Maamar Vayigash Elav 5725, 6.