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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 36 - Chessed sheb'Yesod
Tonight Count 37
Jewish History

Karl Hermann Frank, the German Nazi official in Czechoslovakia during World War II, was hanged on this date in 1946.

Frank surrendered to the American army on May 9, 1945 and was extradited and tried in a court in Prague. Following his conviction for war crimes, Frank was sentenced to death and hanged in the courtyard of the Pankrac prison in Prague as 5,000 onlookers witnessed his death.

The Chabad-Lubavitch village in Israel, Kfar Chabad, was founded by the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, on Iyar 21 of 1949. The first settlers were mostly recent immigrants from the Soviet Union, survivors of the terrors of World War II and Stalinist oppression. Kfar Chabad, which is located about five miles south of Tel Aviv and includes agricultural lands as well as numerous educational institutions, serves as the headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement in the Holy Land.

Link: The Rebbe Who Saved a Village

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the thirty-seventh 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-seven days, which are five weeks and two 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: Gevurah sheb'Yesod -- "Restraint in Connection"

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

Life upon this earth is worthwhile—every moment of it. It is impossible that G‑d breathes life into you and yet you have no purpose in being alive. G‑d does not create failures.

We all know the specter of futility. Empty, wasted days—even lives that would seem far better off had they never been.

But it is all an artifact of our constricted view.

We who have no clue of the purpose of each life within the Creator’s grand scheme, no knowledge of the story of the divine spark within each creature. No concept of who we truly are. How could we measure the value of one more breath of life?

If we had a perch above and beyond, we would see an entirely different world.

We would see how every instance that appears to us as failure is a crucial step towards a much higher place.

How the pain of tearing ourselves away from our past is the gift of true transcendence.

How, one day, with one small turn, an entire broken life will be repaired and redeemed. Indeed, this wounded soldier will be all the more precious for having taken the longer road—for every soul is destined to return home.

As the acorns become mighty oaks only once they begin to rot in the dark soil, as the caterpillars abandon all form within their cocoons to emerge as magnificent butterflies—all the truly great things in our world unfold only in those places where no one cares to look, and no one wants to be.

After your time on this earth, your soul will rise to that perch above, and yet higher. And then it will return here again, as all the souls will return to reap their harvest.

Then you will see. There is no failure in G‑d’s world. Not a moment of it.

Based on 19 Iyar, 5712.