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Shabbat, 4 Sivan, 5781

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 48 - Yesod sheb'Malchut
Tonight Count 49
Jewish History

On Sivan 4 of the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE)--two days before the revelation at Mount Sinai--Moses wrote down the first 68 chapters of the Torah, from Genesis 1:1 ("In the Beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth") to the Giving of the Torah in Exodus 19 (Exodus 24:4; Rashi ibid.).

Link: How and When was the Torah Written?

A mob, accompanied by the bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, France, razed the local synagogue to the ground. The bishop then informed the Jews that he, as bishop, could have but one flock, and unless they were willing to embrace Christianity, they must leave the city. Five hundred Jews were forced to be baptized and the remainder fled to Marseilles.

Pope Sixtus IV instructed his local bishops that all Jews who had fled the Spanish Inquisition (see "Today in Jewish History" for Adar 7) should be sent back to Spain.

The Cossack rebellion against Polish rule in Ukraine, under the leadership of Bogdan Chmielnitzki (may his name be blotted out) began on the 4th of Sivan of the year 5408 from creation (1648 CE). In their bloody march through the Ukraine, Volhynia, Podolia, Poland proper and Lithuania, Chmielnitzki's peasant army massacred between 100,000 and 300,000 Jews. Three hundred Jewish communities were destroyed.

Links: Rabbi Abraham Abele Gombiner

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 Shabbat being the Shabbat before Shhavuot, we study Chapter Six. (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 6

Tomorrow is the forty-ninth -- and last -- 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 forty-nine days, which are seven weeks, 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 which commences tomorrow at nightfall.

Tonight's Sefirah: Malchut sheb'Malchut -- "Receptiveness in Receptiveness" (also: "Sovreignty in Sovereignty")

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

We Jews are a diverse people. We speak many languages. We live in every part of the world. We have different cultures, foods, political views.

But when a Jew’s mind is absorbed within Torah, it is the same Torah within which another Jew is absorbed. And another Jew. And yet another.

We discuss and debate and share and challenge and discuss yet more.

Until all of us become one in mind, soul and body, within one grand conversation of an endless Torah.

Last Day of Passover, 5744. Likutei Sichot vol. 32, pg. 27.