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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 31 - Tifferet sheb'Hod
Tonight Count 32
Jewish History

Manna, the "bread from heaven" which sustained the Children of Israel during their 40 years of wandering through the desert, began to fall on the 16th of Iyar of the year 2448 from creation--one month after the Exodus (see "Today in Jewish History" for yesterday, Iyar 15).

Links:
The Manna (the Torah's account with readings from Talmud, Midrash and Commentaries)
Our Daily Bread (meditations on earning a living)
Bread From Heaven
More on the manna

In the year 70 CE (3830 from Creation), Titus and the Roman army laid siege upon Jerusalem, greatly weakening its defenders. On the 16th of Iyar, the Romans razed the middle wall of Jerusalem. The city was later burned, its inhabitants massacred, and the Temple destroyed on the 9th of Av.

Link: Destruction of the Second Temple - Historical Background

The Nazi Nuremberg Laws, depriving Jews the rights citizenship, were passed by the government of Nazi Germany in 1935. In 1939, on the 16th of Iyar, the laws went into effect in Nazi-allied Hungary.

Dachau was the first Nazi concentration camp and the model for the other concentration camps. During the war, 200,000 Jews were housed in Dachau. More than 30,000 were killed and tens of thousands died due to the conditions and spread of disease in the camp.

The camp was freed by the 45th Infantry Division of the U.S. Seventh Army on the 16th of Iyar, 1945. It was the second concentration camp to be liberated following the end of WWII.

The U.S. troops forced the citizens of the local community to come to the camp, observe the conditions, and help clean the facilities.

On this day in 1948 (5708) Witold Pilecki was executed by the Communist Polish government after a show trial where he was found guilty of espionage. A leader of the Polish resistance, he volunteered to be imprisoned in Auschwitz, where he remained from 1940 to 1943. During that time, smuggled out information on the mass killings and other atrocities that the Germans were committing. They were the first comprehensive reports of the Nazi killing machine to reach the West.

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the thirty-second 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-two days, which are four weeks and four 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: Netzach sheb'Hod -- "Ambition 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 words and the stories of Torah are but its clothing; the guidance within them is its body.

And as with a body, within that guidance breathes a soul that gives life to whoever follows it.

And within that soul breathes a deeper, transcendental soul, the soul of the soul: G‑d Himself within His Torah.

Grasp the clothes alone, and you are like the student who hears the words but not the thoughts. Grasp straight for the soul—or even the body—and you will come up with nothing. They are not graspable; they are G‑dly wisdom, and you are a created being.

Instead, examine those words and those stories; turn them again and again. As words from the heart are one with the heart, every word of these stories is Torah. As fine clothes and jewelry bring out the beauty of their wearer, so these words and stories will open your eyes to the G‑dliness within them.

This is what Torah is meant to achieve: that we should discover G‑d in simple stories. Because once we will find Him there, we will find Him in the simple stories of our own lives as well.

Maamar Gal Einai 5737.