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Monday, April 22, 2019

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.

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

There are things you fix by doing the right thing with them. Those carry your soul high.

There are things you fix by not doing the wrong thing with them. Those carry your soul higher than high.

There are things you fix up because you did the wrong thing with them, and then you regretted that with all your heart and you turned your life around. Those carry your soul high beyond imagination.

Yet all this is speaking of things that have some reality of their own, and perhaps even some means by which they could be used for good—only that you may or may not have used them that way.

There are, however, things in this world that are only evil, whose entire being is but to oppose all that is good—to strike fear, to cause despair, to be darkness. To deny reality.

And so, in your denial of their reality, in your refusal to show them fear, to provide them any ounce of credibility, they dissipate into the nothingness they truly are.

Those carry your soul to its very core and being. And yet higher.

Maamar Natata Lirei’echa Neis 5736.