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Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 40 - Hod sheb'Yesod
Tonight Count 41
Jewish History

During the First Crusade, the crusaders are locked out of Cologne, Germany and the local Jews are saved, following the orders of the local bishop to close the gates to the city. (see "Today in Jewish History" for Iyar 8)

In a number of local provinces, where the local bishop tried to avert the masses from harming the Jews, the Bishop would have to escape for his own safety.

1,200 Jews were massacred by a Christian and Muslim mob attack on the Jewish section of Toledo, Spain, on this date in 1355.

R. Yaakov Lorberbaum was a well-known halachic authority who served as rabbi in the Eastern European cities of Kalish, Lissa, and Stryi. Among the famous and widely-studied works of this prolific author are Chavos Daas and Nesivos Hamishpat, both in-depth commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law).

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the forty-first 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-one days, which are five weeks and six 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: Yesod sheb'Yesod -- "Connection in Connection"

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

This Torah we were given is not of the world, neither is it something extraneous to it. Rather, it is the hidden essence, the primal thought from which all the cosmos and each thing within it extends. It is not about the world, it is the world—the world as its Creator sees it and knows it to be.

The sages of the Talmud told us that the Torah is the blueprint G‑d used to design His creation. There is not a thing that cannot be found there.

Even more, they told us, the Torah is far beyond the world, beyond time, beyond any sort of being. G‑d and His Torah are one, for His thoughts are not extraneous to Him, nor do they effect any change in Him, as do our thoughts. Rather, His thoughts, His wisdom, His desire—all are a simple oneness that does not change.

But He took that infinite wisdom and condensed it a thousandfold, a billionfold, and more, into finite, earthly terms that we could grasp—yet without losing a drop of its purity, of its intimate bond with Him. Then He put it into our hands to learn, to explore and to extend.

So now, when our mind grasps a thought of Torah, thoroughly, with utter clarity, we grasp that inner wisdom. And when we are completely absorbed in the process of thought, comprehension and application, our self and being is grasped by that infinite wisdom which is the essence of all things.

We have grasped it, and it grasps us. In truth, we become that essence.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Tanya, chapters 4 and 5.