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Shabbat, May 28, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 42 - Malchut sheb'Yesod
Tonight Count 43
Jewish History

During Greek rule in the Land of Israel, the Greeks would hang idolatrous wreaths of roses on the doorways of the courtyards and stores, effectively rendering them forbidden for usage by the Jews. They would also write heretical statements on the foreheads of the Jews’ oxen and donkeys, so they would be forced to sell them and would not own any animals for plowing. When the Hasmoneans overthrew Greek rule, they abolished these insidious practices, and that day was commemorated as a holiday in Talmudic times (Megilat Taanit,ch. 2).

Links: What’s so Terrible About Idolatry?, Benefiting from Idolatry

Laws and Customs

This Shabbat is Shabbat Mevarchim (“the Shabbat that blesses" the new month): a special prayer is recited blessing the Rosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") of the upcoming month of Sivan, which falls on Tuesday of the following week.

Prior to the blessing, we announce the precise time of the molad, the "birth" of the new moon. See molad times.

It is a Chabad custom to recite the entire book of Psalms before morning prayers, and to conduct farbrengens (chassidic gatherings) in the course of the Shabbat.

Links: Shabbat Mevarchim; Tehillim (the Book of Psalms); The Farbrengen

In preparation for the festival of Shavuot, we study one of the six chapters of the Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers ("Avot") on the afternoon of each of the six Shabbatot between Passover and Shavuot; this week we study Chapter Five. (In many communities -- and such is the Chabad custom -- the study cycle is repeated through the summer, until the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah.)

Link: Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 5

Tomorrow is the forty-third 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-three days, which are six weeks and one day, 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: Chessed sheb'Malchut -- "Kindness 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

Look deeply within each person you encounter, no matter how brilliant or dull, refined or crude, righteous or wicked you judge this person to be.

Beyond their clothes, beyond their skin, beyond their behavior, beyond their words.

Beyond the emotions they show, the personality in which they dress, past whatever masks they don to conceal their inner woes.

Look deeply and see the vicious war each one fights inside, the battle to remain human in a maddening world—a world you will never know, for no two of us are placed in the same world and no two of us confront the same challenges—

—the sickness at knowing one’s own failures and deficiencies, the yearning to be more, the disappointment at not being that, the struggle to fight every sorrow, every pain, every plummeting, disastrous trauma of life…

True, perhaps not everyone fights every battle. Some have long surrendered.

But the very fact that this person was assigned this battle tells us more than can be spoken, for the One who created him knows he has the power to prevail and win.

That alone is enough to admire, and to be humbled, asking yourself, “Do I fight a battle nearly as fierce as the one I expect this person to win? In what way am I any better?”

Tanya, Chapter 30.