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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 47 - Hod sheb'Malchut
Tonight Count 48
Jewish History

On Sivan 3, G-d instructed Moses to "set boundaries for the people around, saying, 'Beware of ascending the mountain or touching its edge...'" (Exodus 19:10-12) in preparation for the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai three days later. To this day, we mark the "Three Days of Hagbalah ('Boundaries')" leading to the Giving of the Torah on Sivan 6.

Links:
Boundaries
The Giving of the Torah

In his advance towards the destruction of Jerusalem, Rome Emperor Titus Flavius Vespasianus ("Vespasian") captures Jericho and massacres all its inhabitants.

Laws and Customs

Today begin the three days of preparation for the festival of Shavuot known as the "Three Days of Hagbalah" (see today's "Today in Jewish History"); in the custom of certain communities, the mourning practices of the Omer period, such as not to hold weddings or get a haircut, are now suspended.

Tomorrow is the forty-eighth 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-eight days, which are six 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'Malchut -- "Connection in Receptiveness"

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

At Sinai, He said, “Let us bond together. Let us embrace in these mitzvahs, commune in this Torah, and in them we will be one.”

But He is an infinite, unknowable G‑d. If we cannot know Him, how can we bond with Him?

And so, when He came to us in His Torah at Mount Sinai, He began with an alef. And when we begin to learn, we begin with an alef.

In that first, infinitesimal point of not knowing, in that is contained all wisdom.

Leil Simchat Torah 5736:16.