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Monday, May 13, 2024

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 20 - Yesod sheb'Tifferet
Tonight Count 21
Jewish History

R. Yeshayahu Berlin was a noted Talmudist who served as rabbi in Breslau (today Wroclaw, in Poland). He authored numerous works, but is most famous for his cross references to parallel Talmudic texts mentioned in various tractates. These references, together with those of two previous scholars—R. Yehoshua Boaz and R. Yosef Shmuel—are indispensable for Talmud study, and are printed alongside the text in all standard editions of the Talmud.

Link: What Is the Talmud?

The attempted conquest of Acre was a vital part of Napoleon’s Mediterranean campaign against the Ottoman Empire. However, the local troops, supervised by the Pasha’s Jewish advisor Chaim Parchi, valiantly withstood the two-month-long siege. After a final attempt to conquer the city on May 10 (corresponding to 5 Iyar), Napoleon gave up his plans and the siege was lifted.

Link: The Napoleonic Wars and the 1800s

The British mandate to govern the Holy Land expired on Friday, May 14, 1948. A United Nations resolution passed six months earlier endorsed the establishment of a Jewish state in the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. That afternoon, the state of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv. Four neighboring Arab countries launched a brutal war on Israel's Jewish inhabitants, but were unable to realize their full bloodthirsty intent in circumstances describable only as miraculous. The date--Iyar 5 on the Jewish calendar--is celebrated in Israel as the Israeli "Independence Day."

Laws and Customs

“The Sages of old instituted, yet in the times of the Holy Temple, that thirty days before the onset of a holiday the teachers should begin publicly instructing the masses regarding the laws of the holiday; e.g. from Purim and onwards to teach the laws of Passover, and from the 5th of Iyar and onwards to teach the laws of Shavuot” (Shulchan Aruch Harav 429:1).

Tomorrow is the twenty-first 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 twenty-one days, which are three weeks, 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: Malchut sheb'Tifferet -- "Receptiveness 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

When Torah first entered our universe through its portal on Mount Sinai, its first word was an Egyptian word: “Anochi,” meaning “I.”

And indeed, when the angels claimed that Torah belonged in their ethereal domain, Moses demanded of them, “Did you descend to Egypt? Did you set your bloody hands to form a brick from straw and clay? Have you felt the sting of a taskmaster’s whip upon your sunburnt back? How could you have Torah?”

For to have Torah is to have G-d raw.

Not G‑d as an idea for the mind to grasp, not G-d as a transcendent spirit for the soul to find. No, G-d as He is beyond any description or name. As He is simply “I.”

And where will you grasp that I?

In the Egypt of life into which you were cast from birth. In your daily struggle to preserve your integrity, to save your soul from drowning in a world that no one can explain, where G-d appears at times entirely absent.

He is there. His “I” is there. And you will find Him there, as you bring Torah into that place.

“There is one short chapter of only a few words,” teaches the Talmud, “and upon it hangs the entire Torah.”

“In all your ways, know Him.”

In your ways, in your personal Egypt. Know Him—He who is beyond all knowing.

Likutei Sichot vol. 3, Yitro.