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Friday, 28 Iyar, 5783

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 43 - Chessed sheb'Malchut
Tonight Count 44
Jewish History

The prophet Samuel (931-877 BCE) was one of the most important figures in Jewish history; our sages describe him as the equivalent of "Moses and Aaron combined." Samuel was the last of the Shoftim ("Judges") who led the people of Israel in the four centuries between the passing of Joshua and the establishment of the monarchy, and the author of the biblical books of "Judges", "Samuel" and "Ruth"

Samuel was born in the year 2830 from creation (931 BCE) after his barren mother, Chanah (Hannah), prayed for a child at the Sanctuary at Shiloh and pledged, "O L-rd of hosts... If You will give Your maidservant a man child, I shall dedicate him to G-d all the days of his life..." (I Samuel 1:11). At age two, his mother brought him to Shiloh in fulfillment of her vow, where he was raised by Eli the High Priest; shortly thereafter, Samuel had his first prophetic communication (described in I Samuel 3). In 890 BCE, Samuel succeeded Eli as leader of the Jewish people.

After ten years under Samuel's guidance, the people approached him with the request, "Appoint for us a king... like all the nations around us." Samuel disapproved of their request, believing that the people of Israel should be subject only to G-d and not to any mortal king; but G-d instructed him to do as the people ask. Samuel then anointed (879 BCE) Saul as the first king of Israel. When Saul disobeyed G-d during the war on Amalek, Samuel proclaimed David the legitimate king in Saul's stead.

Shortly thereafter, Samuel passed away in his birthplace, Ramah, in the hills of Judah, on the 28th of Iyar of the year 2884 from creation (877 BCE).

Adolf Eichmann was hanged at Ramleh Prison in Israel following his trial and conviction for his crimes against against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity and war crimes during World War II.

Eichmann was a key party in implementing of Hitler's infamous "final solution." 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.

The Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were liberated during the 1967 Six-Day War (see “Today in Jewish History” for Iyar 26). The day is marked in Israel as “Jerusalem Day.”

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the forty-fourth 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-four days, which are six 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'Malchut -- "Restraint 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."

How to count the Omer
The deeper significance of the Omer Count

Daily Thought

If you want to understand something to its depths, first approach it with the mind of a five-year-old.

Ask the innocent and obvious questions and make things clear and simple. Through that clarity, you will perceive the depths of wonder.