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Shabbat, May 9, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 30 - Gevurah sheb'Hod
Tonight Count 31
Jewish History

The supply of matzah (unleavened bread) which the Jewish people brought out of Egypt--enough for 60 meals--was exhausted on the 15th of Iyar, the 30th day after the Exodus. The people complained to Moses that they have nothing to eat. G-d notified them that He will rain down "bread from heaven" to sustain them (Exodus 16; see "Today in Jewish History" for tomorrow, Iyar 16).

A few months prior to her death, Empress Catherine I, the second wife of Peter the Great, expelled all Jews from the Ukraine.

Rostov-on-Don, Russia, was home to 14 Synagogues and many communal institutions. With the encouragement of local Russian officials, a wave of anti-Jewish riots (pogroms) swept the city on the 15th of Iyar of 1883.

Laws and Customs

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 Four. (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 4

Tomorrow is the thirty-first 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 thirty-one days, which are four 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'Hod -- "Harmony in Humility"

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

The very first rule was made to be broken
—the rule that heaven is heaven and earth is earth and each must remain in its place.

The first to break that rule was the very One who made it,
when His glory descended upon Mount Sinai.
And He gave us a Torah so that we, too, could continue breaking that rule
—and all the rules that extend from it:

The rule that truth must remain in the mind,
but not descend into the heart;

That serenity and spirituality must remain in secluded places
and not enter your place of work;

That the innermost wisdom is to remain a secret of the wise
and not spill out onto the street;

That your challenges, your upbringing, your handicaps must hold you back
and not allow you to become who you really are.

All these and all their like are rules made to be broken,
and Torah is the key to unlock their chains.

Maamar Gal Einai 5737.