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Sunday, April 26, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 17 - Tifferet sheb'Tifferet
Tonight Count 18
Jewish History

The fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (1834-1882), known by the acronym "Maharash", was born in the town of Lubavitch (White Russia) on the 2nd of Iyar of the year 5594 from creation (1834). His father, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (the 3rd Chabad Rebbe, known as the "Tzemach Tzeddek") once remarked that Rabbi Shmuel's birthday, coinciding with the 17th day of the Omer Count, is defined by the Kabbalistic masters as Tifferet sheb'Tifferet ("Beauty of Beauty")

Although Rabbi Shmuel was the youngest of Rabbi Menachem Mendel's seven sons, he was chosen to succeed his father as "rebbe" and leader of Chabad in the movement's capital, Lubavitch (four of his brothers established branches of Chabad Chassidism in other towns in White Russia and Ukraine). In addition to leading his Chassidim, guiding and advising their spiritual and material lives and authoring many maamarim (discourses of Chassidic teaching), Rabbi Shmuel traveled extensively throughout Europe, meeting with government and business leaders to exert pressure on the Czarist regime to halt its instigation of pogroms against the Jews of Russia.

Rabbi Shmuel passed away at age 48 on the 13th of Tishrei, 5643 (1882).

Links: Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch
Selected Teachings of Rabbi Shmuel
Rabbi Shmuel's and His Disciples' Melodies
Rabbi Shmuel's Biography

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the eighteenth 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 eighteen days, which are two 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'Tifferet -- "Ambition in Harmony"

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

Rosh Hashanah, the Baal Shem Tov taught, is a game of hide and seek. G‑d hides, we seek.

But where can G‑d hide? Wherever you go, there He is. As the Zohar says, “There is no place void of Him.”

Rather, what the Baal Shem Tov meant is more like peek-a-boo—when parents hides behind their own fingers. So too, G‑d hides Himself within the guise of an awesome, indifferent king, judging His subjects strictly by the book until the most sublime angels shiver in dread.

And we seek. We seek the father behind the stern voice. We are the small child who climbs into the king’s arms, tears off the mask and exclaim, “Daddy!”

Which is just what He was waiting for.