ב"ה
To view Shabbat Times click here to set your location

Shabbat, April 29, 2023

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
To view Halachic Times click here to set your location
Omer: Day 23 - Gevurah sheb'Netzach
Tonight Count 24
Jewish History

In the early 1070s, the Muslim Turks commenced an offensive against the Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem. Pope Gregory VII offered his help to defend the Greek Christians, but the army he promised never materialized.

In 1095, his successor, Urban II, began to call for a holy war to liberate the Christians in Jerusalem. By the next year, more than 100,000 men had rallied to his call, forming the First Crusade. Urban and the local clergymen in Europe felt that the Crusade had another purpose as well--to annihilate all non-Christians in Europe who refused to convert to Christianity.

On their way to the Holy Land, the mobs of crusaders attacked many Jewish communities. On Shabbat, the 8th of Iyar, the Jews of Speyer (Rhineland-Palatinate), Germany were massacred. Many of the Jews of Worms, Germany were also massacred on this day; some of them took refuge in a local castle for a week before being slaughtered as they recited their morning prayers (see "Today in Jewish History" for Sivan 1).

Link: The First Crusade

Laws and Customs

In preparation for the festival of Shavuot, we study one of the six chapters of the Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers ("Avot") on the afternoon of each of the six Shabbatot between Passover and Shavuot; this week we study Chapter Three. (In many communities -- and such is the Chabad custom -- the study cycle is repeated through the summer, until the Shabbat before Rosh Hashanah.)

Link: Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 3

Tomorrow is the twenty-fourth 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-four days, which are three weeks and three 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: Tifferet sheb'Netzach -- "Harmony in Ambition"

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

We are trees, living two lives at once.

One life breaking out through the dark soil into this world, struggling with all our might to rise yet higher, to answer the call of a distant sun. There we are laid bare to the fury of life’s storms, fuel to be consumed by its fires.

Then there are our roots, deep under the ground, unmoving and serene. They are our ancient mothers and fathers, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah. Enlightened beings who lie within the very core of our souls.

For them, there is no storm, no struggle. There is only the One, the Infinite, for Whom all the cosmos with all its challenges are nothing more than a wondrous creation renewed every moment from the void. A miraculous story and a delight.

Our strength is from our bond with them. A bond that stretches over many thousands of years.

A bond that passes through an intricate network of finely tuned heavenly wisdom, weaved into our story as a people, delivered in packages of divine rituals and celebration.

With their nurture we will conquer the storm and revive ourselves after the fire. We will bring beauty to the world within which we were planted.