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Monday, May 11, 2020

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Omer: Day 32 - Netzach sheb'Hod
Tonight Count 33
Jewish History

Following the theft of silver from the Holy Temple in Jerusalem on the 17th of Iyar of the year 3826 from Creation (66 CE), the Jewish defense force attacked and defeated the Roman garrison stationed in Jerusalem.

The 17th of Iyar marks the passing of Rabbi Yechezkel Landau (1713-1793), author of the Talmudic-Halachic work Noda B'Yehuda and Chief Rabbi of Prague. His famous "Letter of Peace" helped to heal the rift between the great sages Rabbi Yaakov Emden and Rabbi Yonasan Eibeshutz, which threatened to irreparably divide the Jewish people.

Laws and Customs

Tomorrow is the thirty-third 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-three days, which are four weeks and five 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: Hod sheb'Hod -- "Humility in Humility" (also: "Splendor in Splendor")

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

This is the impossible position He has put us in: The paradox of outrage.

We believe that at the core of reality there lies a G-d who is essentially good and cares for each one according to his or her needs, guiding each one to the right path, punishing wickedness and rewarding goodness in fair and equal measure. And so, over and over we are outraged--because what we experience flies in the face of this entire belief.

Yet, if we abandon either pole of the paradox, we might as well have never been born. If we learn to ignore the existence of the evil and the suffering, finding some justification for G-d or simply hiding our heads in the sand--then for what purpose were we placed in such a world? To leave it as we found it? And what kind of a G-d have our justifications created?

But if we should surrender our G-d, concluding that, "there is no Judge and therefore no justice"--then what value does my life have? What value does any life have? And what, then, is the point of all the outrage?

This is the drama created by a G-d entirely beyond any form of understanding--a drama powered by the agonizing tension of paradox.

They asked the Baal Shem Tov: "The Talmud tells usChulin 109b. that for every thing G-d forbade, He provided us something permissible of the same sort. He forbade us to eat blood and permitted the liver. He forbade milk and meat and permitted the cow's udder. If so, what did He permit that corresponds to the sin of heresy?"

The Baal Shem Tov replied: "Acts of kindness."Pardes Yosef, Terumah, chapter 25.

Because when you see a person suffering, you don't say, "G-d runs the universe. G-d will take care. G-d knows what is best." You do everything in your power to relieve that suffering as though there is no G-d. You become a heretic in G-d's name.