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Friday, June 7, 2024

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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Rosh Chodesh Sivan
Omer: Day 45 - Tifferet sheb'Malchut
Tonight Count 46
Jewish History

150 days after the rains stopped falling in the Great Flood, the raging waters which covered the face of the earth calmed and began to subside at the rate of one cubit every four days (Genesis 8:3; Rashi, ibid. See "Today in Jewish History" for Cheshvan 17.)

Links:
Noah and the Flood
The Flood

On the 1st of Sivan of the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), six weeks after their exodus from Egypt, the Children of Israel arrived at Mount Sinai in the Sinai Desert and camped at the foot of the mountain "as one man, with one heart" in preparation for the receiving of the Torah from G-d. On this day, however "Moses did not say anything to them, because of their exhaustion from the journey."

Link: The Day That Nothing Happened

At the end of a week in which a group Jews took refuge in a local castle in Worms, Germany, the crusaders massacred them during their morning prayers. (see "Today in Jewish History" for Iyar 8.)

In a reprimand to Pharaoh, king of Egypt, Ezekiel describes the downfall of Assyria in the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, some twenty years earlier. Using highly descriptive terms, Ezekiel likens Assyria to a lofty, mighty cedar tree that was chopped down.

Read the prophecy: Ezekiel ch. 31

Laws and Customs

Today isRosh Chodesh ("Head of the Month") for the month of Sivan.

Special portions are added to the daily prayers: Hallel (Psalms 113-118) is recited -- in its "partial" form -- following the Shacharit morning prayer, and the Yaaleh V'yavo prayer is added to the Amidah and to Grace After Meals; the additional Musaf prayer is said (when Rosh Chodesh is Shabbat, special additions are made to the Shabbat Musaf). Tachnun (confession of sins) and similar prayers are omitted.

Many have the custom to mark Rosh Chodesh with a festive meal and reduced work activity. The latter custom is prevalent amongst women, who have a special affinity with Rosh Chodesh -- the month being the feminine aspect of the Jewish Calendar.

Links:
The 29th Day
The Lunar Files

Tomorrow is the forty-sixth 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 forty-six days, which are six weeks and four 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: Netzach sheb'Malchut -- "Ambition in Receptiveness"

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.