Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thursday, 1st of Iyyar

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

2nd day of Week 31 (the "Horse") and the 16th day (the "Ducks") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Gevurah shebeTiferet shebeHod, Might/Discipline within Balance/Beauty within Glory/Acknowledgement.

Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

14th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Nun within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Nun/Reish) 

Lamentations:

Your prophets have seen false and senseless visions for you, and they have not exposed your iniquity to straighten out your backsliding, but have prophesied for you false and misleading oracles.

נְבִיאַיִךְ חָזוּ לָךְ שָׁוְא וְתָפֵל וְלֹא גִלּוּ עַל עֲו‍ֹנֵךְ לְהָשִׁיב שְׁבוּתֵךְ (כתיב שְׁבֻיּתֵךְ) וַיֶּחֱזוּ לָךְ מַשְׂאוֹת שָׁוְא וּמַדּוּחִם:

Song of Songs:

I will arise now and go about the city, in the market places and in the city squares. I will seek him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but I did not find him.

אָקוּמָה נָּא וַאֲסוֹבְבָה בָעִיר בַּשְּׁוָקִים וּבָרְחֹבוֹת אֲבַקְשָׁה אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו:

Hayom Yom

At a farbrengen during the days of sefira (at some time in the years 5651-5653, 1891-1893) someone said to my father, "The Alter Rebbe's chassidim were always keeping count." My father took a great liking to the saying, and he commented: "That idea characterizes man's avoda. The hours must be 'counted hours,' then the days will be 'counted days.' When a day passes one should know what he has accomplished and what remains yet to be done... In general, one should always see to it that tomorrow should be much better than today."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Horse is Saying (Song(s) for Week 31)

The Horse is saying,

If they profane My statutes and
Do not observe My commandments
By reason of the prancings
The prancings of their mighty ones.

Do not increasingly speak haughtily
Let not arrogance come out of your mouth
[He is] the G-d Whose way is perfect
The word of the Lord is tried.

Your wrath is commensurate with one's fear of You
He is a shield unto all them that trust in Him
Relent, O Lord; how long? Have compassion upon Your servants.
Who can know the intensity of Your anger?

Behold, as the eyes of the servants
To the hand of their master
So are our eyes to G-d our Lord
Until He will favor us.

And Moses said to Aaron
Say to the entire community of the children of Israel
Teach us, then, to reckon our days
That we may acquire a wise heart.

And it came to pass when Aaron spoke
To the entire community of the children of Israel
That they turned toward the desert, and behold!
The glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

How fair are your feet in sandals,
O daughter of nobles!
As the eyes of the maidservant
To the hand of her mistress

The curves of your thighs are like jewels,
The handiwork of a craftsman.
Your navel is a round basin,
Where no mixed wine is lacking;

Your belly is [like] a stack of wheat,
Fenced in with roses.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
The twins of a gazelle.

'Curse you Meroz,' said the messenger of the Lord,
'Curse you bitterly inhabitants thereof,'
For the Lord is a G-d of thoughts,
And to Him are deeds counted.

For their rock is not like our Rock
Nevertheless, our enemies sit in judgment
Draw near before the Lord,
For He has heard your complaints.

Wednesday, 30th of Nissan (Rosh Chodesh Iyar)

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

1st day of Week 31 (the "Horse") and the 15th day (the "Wild Goose") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Chesed shebeTiferet shebeHod, Kindness within Balance/Beauty within Glory/Acknowledgement.

Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

13th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Mem within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Mem/Kuf) 

Lamentations:

What shall I testify for you? What shall I compare to you, O daughter of Jerusalem? What can I liken to you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion? For your ruin is as vast as the sea-who can heal you?

מָה אֲעִידֵךְ (כתיב אֲעִודֵךְ) מָה אֲדַמֶּה לָּךְ הַבַּת יְרוּשָׁלַ ִם מָה אַשְׁוֶה לָּךְ וַאֲנַחֲמֵךְ בְּתוּלַת בַּת צִיּוֹן כִּי גָדוֹל כַּיָּם שִׁבְרֵךְ מִי יִרְפָּא לָךְ:

Song of Songs:

On my bed at night, I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him but I did not find him.

אעַל מִשְׁכָּבִי בַּלֵּילוֹת בִּקַּשְׁתִּי אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי בִּקַּשְׁתִּיו וְלֹא מְצָאתִיו:

Hayom Yom

The following farbrengens should take place in shul: The farbrengen of s'uda shlishit, of Shabbat m'varchim, and of holidays (such as Rosh Chodesh and festive days of anash)
The farbrengen of melava malka should be held in the private homes of anash.

Week 31 (From the Book): To Be Proud of Our Humble Connection with G-d

PEREK SHIRAH: The horse is saying, "Behold, as the eyes of the servants to the hand of their master, as the eyes of the maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so are our eyes to G-d our Lord until He will favor us." (Psalms 123:2)

PIRKEI AVOT: Ben Azzai would say: Run to pursue a minor mitzvah, and flee from a transgression. For a mitzvah brings another mitzvah, and a transgression brings another transgression. For the reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah, and the reward of transgression is transgression.

He would also say: Do not scorn any man, and do not discount any thing. For there is no man who has not his hour, and no thing that has not its place.

SEFIRAH: Tiferet shebeHod (beauty and balance within the context of glory and gratefulness)

The thirty-first week of the year is the week of Rosh Chodesh Iyar. It also includes the day of remembrance of the fallen soldiers of Israel and victims of terror, as well as the fifth of Iyar, which marks the miraculous victory of Israel in its War of Independence. In this week, the horse in Perek Shirah sings about how like servants, our eyes are fixed on the Lord our G-d, until He has compassion over us. (Psalm 123:2) From beginning to end, during this month we are involved in the mitzvah of counting the omer. As mentioned previously, this month is also known as a month of healing, and is formed by the Hebrew letters alef, yud, and reish, which serve as an acronym for the verse “Ani Hashem Rofecha,” "I am G-d your Healer," in which each word begins with one of these three letters.

The month of Iyar is represented by the Tribe of Issachar. The Torah describes Issachar as, "a strong-boned donkey" (similar to the horse), which takes upon itself the yoke of Torah study. Issachar and Zevulun had a partnership in which Zevulun was involved in commerce and supported Issachar in its total dedication to Torah. This dedication to Torah is symbolized by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, whose yahrzeit is in this month, and of whom it is said, “Toratoh Emunatoh,” that his Torah study was his profession.

There is a clear connection between this week, the fifth of Iyar and the War of Independence. The horse, especially in ancient times, symbolizes military might. An example of this is found in the Song of the Sea, which describes how when Pharaoh came with his chariots to attack the Jewish people, G-d threw “horse and rider into the sea.” (This is actually the song of the ox, later this month, in week 34)[1]

Despite being a symbol of power, the horse sings of constantly looking to Hashem for mercy. During the War of Independence, the Jewish people truly fought mightily and heroically, like horses, and yet their victory was only possible due to its miraculous nature, a product of Hashem’s great mercy.

A horse loyally follows the directions of its rider. Like the horse, the Jewish people waited a long time and suffered greatly until Hashem showed us favor and made it possible for us to live in our Holy Land again.
The horse’s song also reflects the feelings of one who is ill or injured and prays to G-d for healing. This is connected to the day of remembrance, as well as to the fifth of Iyar itself. One must not forget that the miracle of Israel’s War of Independence occurred shortly after the Holocaust, when the Jewish people as a whole was like a sick person in urgent need.

The number thirty-one contains the same numerals as thirteen, which, as explained above, represent G-d’s thirteen attributes of mercy. Furthermore, the number thirty-one is also connected to the conquest of the Land of Israel. At the end of the conquest of the Land in the times of Joshua, the Tanach lists all the kings that were defeated at that time, thirty-one in all.[2]

The number thirty-one is formed by the Hebrew letters lamed and alef, which in turn spell the word E-l, one of the names of G-d. The name E-l is an expression of infinite power, but also of infinite mercy.[3] The word el appears many times in the horse’s song.

In the Pirkei Avot for this week, Ben Azzai teaches that one must be fast to perform a mitzvah and to flee from a transgression; for a mitzvah draws another mitzvah, while a transgression draws another. The reward for a mitzvah is a mitzvah, while the reward for a transgression is a transgression. Similarly, just as one mitzvah leads to another, physical and spiritual healing also comes slowly, one step at a time, like the Counting of the Omer.

Furthermore, Ben Azzai teaches not to scorn anyone and not to reject any thing, because there is no one who does not have his moment and there is no thing that does not have its place. This teaching’s connection with Yom Ha’Atzma’ut is similar to that of the song of the horse: the Jewish people and the Land of Israel finally had their moment!

This week’s sefirot combination results in tiferet shebehod. With patience and balance, step by step, we serve G-d and climb the ladder to spiritual fulfillment, getting closer and closer to Hashem. In order to perform this task, we inspire ourselves in the horse’s example, understanding that despite our strength we are nothing more (and nothing less) than servants of G-d. We should be proud of our humble connection with G-d and know that the journey towards Him may at times be slow, but that the arrival at its destination is certain.




[1] See also the last chapters of the Book of Job.
[2] Book of Joshua, Ch. 12

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Camel is saying, (Song(s) for Week 30)

The Camel is saying,

Tread down, O my soul strength.
Then were pounded the heels of the horses
I went down to the nut garden
To see the green plants of the valley

To see whether the vine had blossomed,
The pomegranates were in bloom.                    
If his children forsake My Torah
And do not walk in My ordinances

You have set our wrongdoings before You,
Our hidden sins before the light of Your countenance.
For all our days have vanished in Your wrath;
We cause our years to pass like a fleeting sound.

But [of] what [significance] are we,
That you make complain against us?
When the Lord hears your complaints,
Which you are making complain against Him,

How can one pursue a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock has sold them out,
And the Lord has given them over?

There is none as holy as the Lord,
For there is none besides You
And there is no rock like our God.  
But [of] what [significance] are we?

And Moses said,
Not against us are your complaints,
But against the Lord.
When the Lord gives you

In the evening meat to eat
And bread in the morning to become sated
The days of our lives number seventy years,
And if in great vigor, eighty years

Most of them are but travail and futility
Passing quickly and flying away.
And [in the] morning, You shall see the glory of the Lord
When He hears your complaints against the Lord

G-d shall roar from upon high
And cause His voice to sound
From His holy place, His shout
Echoes profoundly over His dwelling place.

Return, return, O Shulammite
Return, return, and let us gaze upon you.
What will you see for the Shulammite,
As in the dance of the two camps?

I did not know; my soul made me
Chariots for a princely people.
For by You I run upon a troop
By my G-d I scale a wall.

Tuesday, 29th of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

7th day of Week 30 (the "Camel") and the 14th day (the "Domestic Goose") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Malchut shebeGevurah shebeHod, Kingship within Judgement/Discipline within Glory/Acknowledgement.

Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

12th day (the "Night") of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Lamed within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Lamed-Reish, Reish-Lamed) 

Lamentations:

They say to their mothers, "Where are corn and wine?" as they faint like one slain, in the streets of the city, while their soul ebbs away on their mothers' bosom.

לְאִמֹּתָם יֹאמְרוּ אַיֵּה דָּגָן וָיָיִן בְּהִתְעַטְּפָם כֶּחָלָל בִּרְחֹבוֹת עִיר בְּהִשְׁתַּפֵּךְ נַפְשָׁם אֶל חֵיק אִמֹּתָם:

Song of Songs:

Until the sun spreads, and the shadows flee, go around; liken yourself, my beloved, to a gazelle or to a fawn of the hinds, on distant mountains."

עַד שֶׁיָּפוּחַ הַיּוֹם וְנָסוּ הַצְּלָלִים סֹב דְּמֵה לְךָ דוֹדִי לִצְבִי אוֹ לְעֹפֶר הָאַיָּלִים עַל הָרֵי בָתֶר:

Hayom Yom

The Introduction to "Likutei Torah On Three Parshiot" is the maamar which begins, "To understand the matter of the G‑dly soul; it is written, You shall not eat ...". This maamar was originally said by the Alter Rebbe to the Tzemach Tzedek. The Tzemach Tzedek repeated the maamar in the Alter Rebbe's presence, who then said to him, "Nu, and the flavoring?" The Tzemach Tzedek then wrote a transcript of the maamar with parenthetical notes. The Alter Rebbe reviewed and corrected the transcript and ordered that the parenthetical notes be entered as part of the body of the maamar text.
At my father's suggestion this maamar was selected to serve as an introduction to the "Likutei Torah (On Three Parshiot," of the Rebbe Maharash).

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Monday, 28th of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

6th day of Week 30 (the "Camel") and the 13th day (the "Starling") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Yesod shebeGevurah shebeHod, Foundation within Judgement/Discipline within Glory/Acknowledgement.

Alef-Bet/Psalms (Cycles of 22 days):

11th day (the "Day") of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Kaf within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Kaf-Kuf, Kuf-Kaf) 

Lamentations:

My eyes are spent with tears, my innards burn; my heart is poured out in grief over the destruction of the daughter of my people, while infant and suckling faint in the streets of the city.

כָּלוּ בַדְּמָעוֹת עֵינַי חֳמַרְמְרוּ מֵעַי נִשְׁפַּךְ לָאָרֶץ כְּבֵדִי עַל שֶׁבֶר בַּת עַמִּי בֵּעָטֵף עוֹלֵל וְיוֹנֵק בִּרְחֹבוֹת קִרְיָה:

Song of Songs:

My beloved is mine, and I am his, who grazes among the roses.

טזדּוֹדִי לִי וַאֲנִי לוֹ הָרֹעֶה בַּשּׁוֹשַׁנִּים:

Hayom Yom

Chassidim asked the Alter Rebbe: "Which is the superior avoda, love of G‑d or love of Israel?" He replied: "Both love of G‑d and love of Israel are equally engraved in every Jew's neshama, ruach, and nefesh. Scripture is explicit: 'I have loved you, says the L-rd.' It follows that love of Israel is superior - for you love whom your beloved loves."
DOWNLOAD A FREE COPY OF PEREK SHIRAH HERE!

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