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Monday, January 3, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Rosh Chodesh Shevat
Jewish History

On the first of Shevat in the year 2488 from creation, Moses convened the Jewish people and began the 37-day "review of the Torah" contained in the Book of Deuteronomy, which he concluded on the day of his passing on Adar 7 of that year.

Links:
Overview of Deuteronomy
Moses: The Man of G-d

Laws and Customs

Today is Rosh Chodesh (“Head of the Month”) for the month of Shevat.

Special portions are added to the daily prayers: Hallel (Psalms 113-118) is recited -- in its "partial" form -- following the Shacharit morning prayer, and the Yaaleh V'yavo prayer is added to the Amidah and to Grace After Meals; the additional Musaf prayer is said (when Rosh Chodesh is Shabbat, special additions are made to the Shabbat Musaf). Tachnun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted.

Many have the custom to mark Rosh Chodesh with a festive meal and reduced work activity. The latter custom is prevalent amongst women, who have a special affinity with Rosh Chodesh -- the month being the feminine aspect of the Jewish Calendar.

Links:
The Jewish Month of Shevat
The Laws of Rosh Chodesh
How Does a Jewish Woman Celebrate Rosh Chodesh?

Daily Thought

“Nothing bad descends from Above.” -R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi

In essence, all is good. There is nothing truly bad. In the Creator’s conception, every creature and everything that happens to every creature—all is sweet fruit from Eden.

But when that goodness emerges from G‑d’s thought and plays itself out on the stage of our earthly lives, it often looks really awful. Indeed, the most precious gifts of a lifetime tend to enter in the most life-disrupting ways.

Think of the screech that came out of your flute when you tried to play a high, sweet note. Or the jarring mess when you attempted a nice riff on your guitar. When you’re starting off, all the best stuff keeps coming out as noise.

In some faintly similar way, so too with life: The sweeter heaven’s blessings, the more they might taste like bitter curses.

Like well-intended words repeated in the wrong way to the wrong person at the wrong time—all context lost, all meaning completely inverted—so too, the warmest kisses from heaven can slap against your cheek like freezing rain.

Such is the order of heaven and earth in its present, unfinished stage. Ideas that look fantastic to the heavenly host make their landing here on earth with the most disastrous implementation. And it’s mostly because our world lacks a landing pad anywhere near large enough for such blinding conceptions.

The avenues of our hearts are too constricted, our neuropathways too tightly set and fixed. And our vision oh so strained that we can’t see beyond just the things we want and the acquirements that enslave us. Our entire world has simply not been tuned to receive divine goodness.

We inhabit a world of cacophony begging to be rearranged into music, words yearning to speak their true meaning, scenery just waiting to be moved into place—until all that occurs below will attain magnificent harmony with its origin above.

And how do we allow that to happen? Mostly by allowing ourselves to believe it’s already there.

You’ve likely heard the story of the recalcitrant child who turns out good because someone really believed in that kid. As art emerges from the hands of those who believe in art, kindness from hearts that believe in kindness, and science from minds who trust there is an explanation.

So too, a dark and bitter chapter of life is reframed into a higher context, redeemed, and revealed in all its glorious, delicious splendor by a soul that trusts that G‑d is good, and G‑d is One.

No matter how things may appear.

Open your mind, open your heart. Trust that all is good, and it will be good. Good beyond anything you could possibly imagine, but down to earth good.

Extracted from the last two lines of Igeret Hakodesh 11.