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Monday, May 9, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 23 - Gevurah sheb'Netzach
Tonight Count 24
Jewish History

In the early 1070s, the Muslim Turks commenced an offensive against the Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VII offered his help to defend the Greek Christians, but the army he promised never materialized.

In 1095, his successor, Urban II, began to call for a holy war to liberate the Christians in Jerusalem. By the next year, more than 100,000 men had rallied to his call, forming the First Crusade. Urban and the local clergymen in Europe felt that the Crusade had another purpose as well--to annihilate all non-Christians in Europe who refused to convert to Christianity.

On their way to the Holy Land, the mobs of crusaders attacked many Jewish communities. On Shabbat, the 8th of Iyar, the Jews of Speyer (Rhineland-Palatinate), Germany were massacred. Many of the Jews of Worms, Germany were also massacred on this day; some of them took refuge in a local castle for a week before being slaughtered as they recited their morning prayers (see "Today in Jewish History" for Sivan 1).

Link: The First Crusade

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the twenty-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 twenty-four days, which are three weeks and three 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: Tifferet sheb'Netzach -- "Harmony in Ambition"

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

You are three people, one nested within the other.

You are a divine person.

Nested within a rational person.

Nested within an animal person.

The divine person within you is drawn upward, like the flame of a candle, towards the spiritual and the divine. It has no interest in any worldly pleasures—unless it can find within them some transcendent meaning.

The animal person within you is drawn downward, towards eating and drinking and all forms of bodily pleasure. It has no interest in anything it can’t enjoy right now.

The rational person within you moves in both directions. It flies upward towards fascinating ideas, seeing ahead, taking the big picture into account. But it remains tied up with its ego, and so is easily seduced, even hijacked, by the animal.

From its deeply nested position, your divine person can’t even breathe without the consent of the animal person. But the animal has no interest in divine people, and the divine person has no common ground to start a conversation with the animal.

So the divine person has only one strategy that can work: To win over the animal, it has to speak with the rational person within you, inspiring the wisdom of your mind and the intuition of your heart with divine knowledge packaged in easily digested, chewable niblets.

Seeing the rational person within you all excited, the animal will want to know what’s going on. That’s when that rational soul can take the next step, to convince the animal that divine wisdom isn’t so bizarre after all, and that life is so much richer when everything has meaning and purpose.

With a common inspiration, three souls now work together in peace and harmony towards a single goal.

—Likutei Torah, Bechukotai p. 94. Chavivin Yisrael 5676. Bayom Ashtei Asar 5732.