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Monday, April 18, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Passover (Chol Hamoed)
Omer: Day Two - Gevurah sheb'Chessed
Tonight Count 3
Jewish History

Rabbi Yisrael Noach, son of the third Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, headed the yeshivah in Lubavitch during his father’s lifetime. He was known for his great humility and the many hours he would spend praying with intense emotions and concentration. Known as the "Maharin from Niezhen," he was one of Rabbi Menachem Mendel’s consultants in matters of Jewish thought, and Rabbi Menachem Mendel would delegate to him many of the questions he would receive.

Following his father's passing in 1866, he relocated to Niezhen where he served as a chassidic master.

He was interred in Niezhen next to his illustrious grandfather, the second Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi DovBer of Lubavitch.

At the 2nd wine party she made for King Achashverosh and Haman, Queen Esther revealed her identity to the king and began to plead for her people, pointing to Haman as the evil schemer plotting to destroy them. When Charvonah, a royal servant, mentioned the gallows which Haman had prepared for Mordechai, the king ordered that Haman be hanged on them, opening the door for the Jews' salvation from Haman's decree (Book of Esther, chapter 7). Note that according to many this took place on Nisan 16, yesterday.

Link: See Timeline of the events connected with the Purim miracle

Laws and Customs

Of the eight days of Passover, the first two and the last two are "yom tov" (festival days). The middle four days are called chol hamoed--"weekdays of the festival," also called "the intermediate days." (In Israel, where Passover is observed for seven days, the first and last days are yom tov, and the middle five days are chol hamoed).

The yom tov days are days of rest, during which all creative work is forbidden, as it is on the Shabbat, with the exception of certain types of work associated with food preparation (e.g., cooking and "carrying"). On chol hamoed the prohibition of work is less stringent--work whose avoidance would result in "significant loss" is permitted (except when chol hamoed is also Shabbat, when all work is forbidden).

The "Yaale V'yavo" prayer is included in all prayers and Grace After Meals. Hallel (partial) and Musaf are recited following the Shacharit (morning) prayers. It is the Chabad custom not to put on tefillin during the "intermediate days".

Click here for a more detailed treatment of the laws of Chol Hamoed.

Click here for a summary of the Passover Torah readings.

Tomorrow is the 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 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'Chessed -- "Harmony in Kindness"

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

“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.