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Thursday, May 5, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 19 - Hod sheb'Tifferet
Tonight Count 20
Jewish History

The 4th of Iyar was observed by Maimonides (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, 1135-1204) as a personal day of fasting and prayer. Maimonides recounts that when he and his family were fleeing Islamic persecution from Fez, Morocco to the Holy Land, their ship was caught in a fierce storm at sea. He cried out to G-d in prayer and vowed to fast each year on this date.

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the twentieth 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 days, which are two weeks and six 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: Yesod sheb'Tifferet -- "Connection 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

Water and oil both represent wisdom.

Water represents the wisdom of life in this world, a wisdom that flows from the tallest mountain to the lowest valley, from the highest cloud to the deepest ocean floor. In all things, that wisdom breathes, telling us how to live, how to bring harmony into this world.

Oil represents a wisdom that is beyond this world. It is called the hidden wisdom because it is hidden by its very nature, so that it must be squeezed out of its source with great effort.

But if it is a wisdom that is beyond this world, why make the effort to reveal it? If we can live without it, why search for it?

We search for it to know why we should live in this world. To discover it is not just a world, that it has purpose and meaning. That in every cell, it contains G-d.

That is the wisdom that shines from the oil of Chanukah. In its light, we see the divine even in the darkness.

From that wisdom emerges the flame we need to live true lives.