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Monday, June 10, 2024

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

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

Tachnun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted from the prayer service.

Daily Thought

I am G‑d, your G‑d who took you out of the land of Egypt to be your G‑d…Do not steal. Do not kill. Do not covet.

If Torah is divine wisdom, you would expect it to enter the world in a serene voice. You would expect to hear that voice speak of the mysteries of life and open wide paths of profound contemplation.

Instead, amidst thunder and lightning, we heard simple, obvious morals: don’t steal, don't kill, don't covet.

Because G‑d was telling us that from this point on, everything will be turned on its head.

Before Sinai, where did you find divine wisdom?

Within an enlightened soul sitting beneath a tamarisk in deep contemplation, communing with the oneness of the universe.

After Sinai, you can find Torah in a human being enslaved to a substance that kills, incapable of escape—until thrown this rope of divine wisdom and choosing of his own will to pull himself out with it and rewrite his entire journey.

For him, G-d said, "I am G-d who took you out of Egypt."

You can find Torah in the guy who is tempted to theft and murder, who sees these as convenient alternatives—but refrains because G‑d said, "Do not steal. Do not murder. Do not even covet."

And if you can’t find Torah there, because you haven’t sunk to that extreme, and you don't know anyone who has...

...then find Torah by changing the way you live day to day, the things you speak, the actions you take. By disrupting your everyday world. By leaving nothing as it is.

That is why Torah was given with lightning and thunder.

Because, post-Sinai, Torah is found in this busy, noisy world. Torah is where the action is.

Post-Sinai, everything has changed. Because Torah has to change everything.

Maamar B’sha’ah Shehikdimu 5732.