Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday, 4th of Iyar

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

5th day of Week 31 (the "Horse") and the 19th day (the "Locust") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Hod shebeTiferet shebeHod, Glory/Acknowledgement within Balance/Beauty within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

17th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Peh within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Peh/Kuf) 

Lamentations:

All your enemies have opened their mouths wide against you; they hissed and gnashed their teeth [and] said, "We have engulfed [her]! Indeed, this is the day we longed for; we have found it; we have seen it!"

פָּצוּ עָלַיִךְ פִּיהֶם כָּל אֹיְבַיִךְ שָׁרְקוּ וַיַּחַרְקוּ שֵׁן אָמְרוּ בִּלָּעְנוּ אַךְ זֶה הַיּוֹם שֶׁקִּוִּינֻהוּ מָצָאנוּ רָאִינוּ:

Song of Songs:
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, that you neither awaken nor arouse the love while it is desirous.

ההִשְׁבַּעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַ ִם בִּצְבָאוֹת אוֹ בְּאַיְלוֹת הַשָּׂדֶה אִם תָּעִירוּ | וְאִם תְּעוֹרְרוּ אֶת הָאַהֲבָה עַד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ:


Hayom Yom

It is a Jewish custom not to shave or cut a baby boy's hair until his third birthday.
The first haircutting or opsherenish of a baby boy is a Jewish custom of great importance. The essence of the custom is the educational act of leaving (uncut) the peyot (sidelocks). From the day of the haircutting and leaving the peyot it is the custom to take particular care in accustoming the little boy to wear a tallit katan, to recite the early-morning b'rachot, the grace after meals (birkat hamazon p. 89) and the bedtime sh'ma (p. 118).

Shabat, 3rd of Iyar

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

4th day of Week 31 (the "Horse") and the 18th day (the "Grasshopper") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Netzach shebeTiferet shebeHod, Victory/Endurance within Balance/Beauty within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

16th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Ayin within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Ayin/Reish) 

Lamentations:

The Lord has done what He devised, He has carried out His word, which He decreed long ago, [and] has devastated without pity; He has caused the enemy to rejoice over you, and exalted the might of your adversaries.

עָשָׂה יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר זָמָם בִּצַּע אֶמְרָתוֹ אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה מִימֵי קֶדֶם הָרַס וְלֹא חָמָל וַיְשַׂמַּח עָלַיִךְ אוֹיֵב הֵרִים קֶרֶן צָרָיִךְ:

Song of Songs:

I had just passed them by, when I found him whom my soul loves; I held him and would not let him go, until I brought him into my mother's house and into the chamber of her who had conceived me.

כִּמְעַט שֶׁעָבַרְתִּי מֵהֶם עַד שֶׁמָּצָאתִי אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי אֲחַזְתִּיו וְלֹא אַרְפֶּנּוּ עַד שֶׁהֲבֵיאתִיו אֶל בֵּית אִמִּי וְאֶל חֶדֶר הוֹרָתִי:


Hayom Yom


One should not drink water before havdala.
It is possible to utilize for G‑d's service, according to Torah, all behavior-traits. This includes those traits that are unwholesome, and even those that are evil, as their names and descriptions indicate. For example, the tzadik Rabbi Meshulam Zusya of Anipoli, of blessed memory, learned a number of methods of serving G‑d - from a thief: a) He works quietly without others knowing. b) He is ready to place himself in danger. c) The smallest detail is of great importance to him. d) He labors with great toil. e) Alacrity. f) He is confident and optimistic. g) If he did not succeed the first time, he tries again and again.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Friday, 2nd of Iyar (Birthday of the Rebbe Maharash)

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

3rd day of Week 31 (the "Horse") and the 17th day (the "Bee-Eater (Rechamah)") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Tiferet shebeTiferet shebeHod, Balance/Beauty within Balance/Beauty within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

15th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Samech within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Samech/Kuf) 

Lamentations:

All who passed along the road clapped their hands at you, they hissed and wagged their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem; "Is this the city that was called the perfection of beauty, the joy of all the earth?"

סָפְקוּ עָלַיִךְ כַּפַּיִם כָּל עֹבְרֵי דֶרֶךְ שָׁרְקוּ וַיָּנִעוּ רֹאשָׁם עַל בַּת יְרוּשָׁלָםִ הֲזֹאת הָעִיר שֶׁיֹּאמְרוּ כְּלִילַת יֹפִי מָשׂוֹשׂ לְכָל הָאָרֶץ:

Song of Songs:

The watchmen who patrol the city found me: "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?"

גמְצָאוּנִי הַשֹּׁמְרִים הַסֹּבְבִים בָּעִיר אֵת שֶׁאָהֲבָה נַפְשִׁי רְאִיתֶם:

Hayom Yom

My grandfather (the Rebbe Maharash) was born on this day in 5593 (1833).
When he was seven years old he was once tested in his studies by his father, the Tzemach Tzedek. My grandfather did so well in the test that his teacher was enormously impressed. Unable to restrain himself he said to the Tzemach Tzedek, "Well, what do you say? Hasn't he done marvelously?" The Tzemach Tzedek responded: "What is there to be surprised about when tiferet-within-tiferet does well?"

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Thursday, 1st of Iyyar (Rosh Chodesh)

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 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 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."

Sunday, 27th of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

5th day of Week 30 (the "Camel") and the 12th day (the "Raven") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Hod shebeGevurah shebeHod, Glory/Acknowledgement within Judgement/Discipline within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

10th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Yud within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Yud-Reish, Reish-Yud) 

Lamentations:

The elders of the daughter of Zion sit on the ground in silence, they laid dust on their heads [and] put on sackcloth; the maidens of Jerusalem bowed their heads to the ground.

יֵשְׁבוּ לָאָרֶץ יִדְּמוּ זִקְנֵי בַת צִיּוֹן הֶעֱלוּ עָפָר עַל רֹאשָׁם חָגְרוּ שַׂקִּים הוֹרִידוּ לָאָרֶץ רֹאשָׁן בְּתוּלֹת יְרוּשָׁלָםִ:
Song of Songs:

Seize for us the foxes, the little foxes, who destroy the vineyards, for our vineyards are with tiny grapes.

אֶחֱזוּ לָנוּ שׁוּעָלִים שֻׁעָלִים קְטַנִּים מְחַבְּלִים כְּרָמִים וּכְרָמֵינוּ סְמָדַר:

Hayom Yom

The permissible, when done for one's pleasure, is completely evil, as the Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya, Chapter 7, for we are commanded, "sanctify yourself with what is permitted to you." One must introduce sanctity into those matters that are permissible so that they serve the purpose of enhancing one's Torah, mitzvot, fear-of-G‑d and good character traits.

Shabat, 26th of Nissan (Yahrzeit of Yehoshua Bin Nun)

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

4th day of Week 30 (the "Camel") and the 11th day (the "Stork") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Netzach shebeGevurah shebeHod, Victory/Discipline within Judgement/Discipline within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

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

Lamentations:

Her gates are sunk into the ground; He has ruined and broken her bars; her king and princes are [exiled] among the heathens, [and] there is no more teaching; moreover, her prophets obtain no vision from the Lord.

טָבְעוּ (ט זעירא) בָאָרֶץ שְׁעָרֶיהָ אִבַּד וְשִׁבַּר בְּרִיחֶיהָ מַלְכָּהּ וְשָׂרֶיהָ בַגּוֹיִם אֵין תּוֹרָה גַּם נְבִיאֶיהָ לֹא מָצְאוּ חָזוֹן מֵיהֹוָה:

Song of Songs:

My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the coverture of the steps, show me your appearance, let me hear your voice, for your voice is pleasant and your appearance is comely.'

 יוֹנָתִי בְּחַגְוֵי הַסֶּלַע בְּסֵתֶר הַמַּדְרֵגָה הַרְאִינִי אֶת מַרְאַיִךְ הַשְׁמִיעִנִי אֶת קוֹלֵךְ כִּי קוֹלֵךְ עָרֵב וּמַרְאֵיךְ נָאוֶה


Hayom Yom

From a sicha of my father: Chassidus demands that one "...wash his flesh (Hebrew, et b'ssaro) with water, and clothe himself in them (the priestly robes)." The intellectual element of Chassidus must thoroughly cleanse the flesh and rinse away the habits of the flesh. The habits are alluded to by the word et ("and") in the quoted verse, signifying "that which is incidental to the flesh," the habits developed by the body. Only then can one clothe himself in the "sacred garments."

Pondering Chassidus, discussing Chassidus, and the practice of Chassidim to meditate before davening - these are "sacred garments," garments that were given from the heights of sanctity. But it is the person himself who must "wash his flesh with water..." The garments of the soul are given to the individual from On High. But washing away unwholesome "incidentals" that arise from bodily nature and making the body itself "flesh of sanctity," this is achieved solely by man's own efforts. This is what Chassidus demands; it is for this ideal that our great teacher (the Alter Rebbe) devoted himself totally and selflessly. He opened the channel of total devotion,3 sacrifice, for serving G‑d through prayer, to be bound up with the Essence of the En Sof, infinite G‑d. Chassidus places a chassid face to face with the Essence of the En Sof.
 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Friday, 25th of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

3rd day of Week 30 (the "Camel") and the 10th day (the "Bat") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Tiferet shebeGevurah shebeHod, Balance/Beauty within Judgement/Discipline within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

8th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Chet within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Chet-Reish, Reish-Chet) 

Lamentations:

The Lord determined to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion; He stretched out a line; He did not restrain His hand from destroying; indeed, He caused rampart and wall to mourn, [and] they languish together.

חָשַׁב יְהֹוָה | לְהַשְׁחִית חוֹמַת בַּת צִיּוֹן נָטָה קָו לֹא הֵשִׁיב יָדוֹ מִבַּלֵּעַ וַיַּאֲבֶל חֵל וְחוֹמָה יַחְדָּו אֻמְלָלוּ:

Song of Songs:

The fig tree has put forth its green figs, and the vines with their tiny grapes have given forth their fragrance; arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.

יגהַתְּאֵנָה חָנְטָה פַגֶּיהָ וְהַגְּפָנִים | סְמָדַר נָתְנוּ רֵיחַ קוּמִי לָכְי רַעְיָתִי יָפָתִי וּלְכִי לָךְ:

Hayom Yom

The individual's avoda must be commensurate with his character and innate qualities. There may be one who can drill pearls or polish gems but works at baking bread (the analogy in the realm of avoda may be easily understood). Though baking bread is a most necessary craft and occupation, this person is considered to have committed a "sin."

Thursday, 24th of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

2nd day of Week 30 (the "Camel") and the 9th day (the "Stormy Petrel") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Gevurah shebeGevurah shebeHod, Judgement/Discipline within Judgement/Discipline within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

7th day (the "Waters") of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Zayin within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Zayin-Kuf, Kuf-Zayin) 

Lamentations:

The Lord has rejected His altar, He has abolished His Sanctuary, He has delivered into the hand of the enemy the walls of her palaces; they raised a clamor in the House of the Lord, as on a day of a festival.

זָנַח אֲדֹנָי | מִזְבְּחוֹ נִאֵר מִקְדָּשׁוֹ הִסְגִּיר בְּיַד אוֹיֵב חוֹמֹת אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ קוֹל נָתְנוּ בְּבֵית יְהֹוָה כְּיוֹם מוֹעֵד:

Song of Songs:

The blossoms have appeared in the land, the time of singing has arrived, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

הַנִּצָּנִים נִרְאוּ בָאָרֶץ עֵת הַזָּמִיר הִגִּיעַ וְקוֹל הַתּוֹר נִשְׁמַע בְּאַרְצֵנוּ:

Hayom Yom

It is customary not to recite the b'racha she'he'che'yanu during the days of the omer count.

We all possess an element of "non-good." Why, the scapegoat (representing evil, banished to Azazeil) was actually a service in the Beit hamikdash! A physical created being inevitably has a negative element, but we must banish that evil to a "desolate land.

Wednesday, 23rd of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

1st day of Week 30 (the "Camel") and the 8th day (the "Swift") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Chesed shebeGevurah shebeHod, Kindness within Judgement/Discipline within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

6th day  of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Vav within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Vav-Reish, Reish-Vav) 

Lamentations:

And He stripped His Tabernacle like a garden, and laid in ruins His Meeting-Place; the Lord has caused festival and Sabbath to be forgotten in Zion, and in His fierce indignation has spurned king and priest.

וַיַּחְמֹס כַּגַּן שֻׂכּוֹ שִׁחֵת מֹעֲדוֹ שִׁכַּח יְהֹוָה | בְּצִיּוֹן מוֹעֵד וְשַׁבָּת וַיִּנְאַץ בְּזַעַם אַפּוֹ מֶלֶךְ וְכֹהֵן

Song of Songs:

For behold, the winter has passed; the rain is over and gone.

כִּי הִנֵּה הַסְּתָו עָבָר הַגֶּשֶׁם חָלַף הָלַךְ לוֹ:

Hayom Yom

The presence of Mashiach is revealed on Acharon Shel Pesach, and this revelation has relevance to all Israel: Pesach is medaleg, "skipping over" (rather than orderly progress), and leil shimurim, the "protected night." In general the mood of Pesach is one of liberty. Then Pesach ends, and we find ourselves tumbling headlong into the outside world. This is where Mashiach's revealed presence comes into play - imbuing us with a powerful resoluteness that enables us to maintain ourselves in the world.

Week 30 (from the Book): To Know that the World Needs More Love and Respect

PEREK SHIRAH: The camel is saying, “G-d shall roar from upon high and cause His voice to sound forth from His holy place, His shout echoes profoundly over His dwelling place. (Jeremiah 25:30)

PIRKEI AVOT: Ben Zoma would say: Who is wise? One who learns from every man. As is stated (Psalms 119:99): "From all my teachers I have grown wise, for Your testimonials are my meditation."

Who is strong? One who overpowers his inclinations. As is stated (Proverbs 16:32), "Better one who is slow to anger than one with might, one who rules his spirit than the captor of a city."

Who is rich? One who is satisfied with his lot. As is stated (Psalms 128:2): "If you eat of toil of your hands, fortunate are you, and good is to you"; "fortunate are you" in this world, "and good is to you" in the World to Come.

Who is honorable? One who honors his fellows. As is stated (I Samuel 2:30): "For to those who honor me, I accord honor; those who scorn me shall be demeaned."

SEFIRAH: Gevurah shebeHod (discipline and judgment within the context of glory and gratefulness)

In the thirtieth week, the last week of Nissan and the week of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is the turn of the camel in Perek Shirah to proclaim that, “the Lord roars from upon high; His voice is heard from His holy place; His roar echoes loudly over His dwelling place. (Jeremiah 25:30) The verse of the camel describes how Hashem strongly laments the destruction of the Temple. Due to its destruction, the Jewish people have had to survive for a very long period of time without its basic source of spiritual sustenance, just like the camel survives for long periods without water. Nissan is the month of redemption, both the redemption from Egypt as well as the future redemption. However, even on Passover itself we have an egg on the Seder plate as a sign of mourning to remember the destruction of the Temple and that the final redemption has not yet taken place. This week also marks the yahrzeit of Yehoshua Bin Nun, on the 26th day of this month.

As is explained in the same Midrash cited in week twenty-eight, the camel represents the Babylonian exile, when the First Temple was destroyed. Moreover, like the beast of burden, the camel also appears to be a reference to Yishmael.[1] As we complete the month of Nissan, we relive all the exiles and the redemptions that the Jewish people experienced throughout history, while hoping to soon experience the final redemption that will take us out of the current exile.

Thirty is an intensification of the qualities of balance represented by the number three. The number thirty also has the numerical value of the name Yehudah. As mentioned previously, Nissan is represented by the Tribe of Judah. Pirkei Avot teaches that thirty is also the age of koach, strength and potential. (See Week 28) At thirty, one is at the height of his or her physical and intellectual capacity. It was at the age of thirty that the kohanim would begin serving in the Temple. Such strength and potential are associated with Judah and his descendant, King David, who unlike Esau, acknowledged and repented from their mistakes, and were able to fully tap into their capacity for good.

In Pirkei Avot this week, Ben Zoma teaches: "Who is wise? One who learns from every person; Who is strong? He who conquers his evil inclination ... Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his portion.” This teaching is closely related to the tragic events that took place during the time of the Counting of the Omer. The death of Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 disciples was caused by the difficulty they had in respecting, accepting, and learning from each other’s interpretations and applications of their master’s teachings.

The destruction of the Temple and the exile in which we find ourselves to this day (which includes also the events of the Holocaust) is due to sinat chinam, baseless hatred. We will be redeemed from this final exile through ahavat chinam, baseless love for each individual.

Ben Zoma’s lesson is closely related Yehoshua Bin Nun. He was Moses’ closest disciple and successor, and yet also could relate to everyone: “on the verse describing Joshua as ‘a man in whom there is spirit,’ Sifrei explains “that he was able to meet the spirit of every man.”[2]

Ben Zoma’s second question and answer, “Who is strong? He who conquers his evil inclination,” also appears related to the yahrzeit of Joshua. The Rebbe once said regarding his yahrzeit that, “On this day, assistance from heaven is granted to become a conqueror, like Yehoshua Bin Nun, ‘the most prominent of the conquerors.’"[3] During this week, we prepare for the conquests related to the following month (Iyar), and learn to become strong conquerors like Joshua.

In this week, the combination of sefirot results in gevurah shebehod. The Counting of the Omer, especially after the end if Passover and the month of Nissan, marks a period of service to G-d that can be potentially difficult, requiring both strength and discipline in order to conquer our evil inclination.
An additional lesson that we can extract from the words of the camel is that we must always remember our mission in the world: to create a dwelling place for G-d in this world, starting by creating a sacred space for Him within ourselves.






[1] Talmud, Brachot 56b (where the description of a dream with a camel follows description of a dream with Yishmael); Midrash Asseret Melachim, Midrash Pitron Torah
[2] Tanya, Compiler’s forward
[3] From the Rebbe’s Letters, available at: http://www.sichosinenglish.org/books/letters-rebbe-2/07.htm

Week 29 (From the Book): After the Initial Inspiration, To Get to Work

PEREK SHIRAH: The beast of burden is saying, "When you eat the fruit of your labors, happy are you and good is your lot." (Psalms 128:2)

PIRKEI AVOT: Rabbi Eliezer [the son of] Chisma would say: the laws of kinin (bird offerings) and the laws of menstrual periods---these, these are the meat of Halachah (Torah law). The calculations of solar seasons and gematria are the condiments of wisdom.

SEFIRAH COMBINATION: Chesed shebeHod (kindness within the context of glory and gratefulness)

As we enter the twenty-ninth week, the week of Passover, in Perek Shirah, the large impure (non-kosher) domestic animal sings that those that eat from the work of their own hands are praiseworthy and are blessed with good. (Psalm 128:2) This animal has been translated by Rabbi Slifkin simply as the “beast of burden.”[1] On Passover, we feel the influx of Hashem’s blessings and redemption. At the same time, from the second day of Passover onwards, the Jewish people begin counting the omer and begin working towards self-improvement. Thus, by the time Shavuot arrives, we will have merited to receive the Torah, at least in part through the work of our own hands.

This week’s animal appears to be a reference to Yishmael and his descendants. This son of Abraham was known for his great capacity for praying and for trusting in G-d’s blessings and salvation.[2] In fact, Yishmael did receive great blessings, although part of the blessings showed that there were aspects of his lifestyle that still needed to be improved. The angel tells Hagar, Yishmael’s mother, that "his hand would be on everyone.”[3] Later in life, Yishmael repents, returns to G-d, and has a good relationship with Isaac.[4] In messianic times, Isaac and Yishmael will coexist in peace.

Our sages interpret the verse of the beast of burden to be a dual blessing, “praiseworthy” – in this world, and “good for you” - in the world to come. There is a custom in Chassidic circles, instituted by the Ba’al Shem Tov, to make a meal on the eighth day of Passover called Moshiach Seudah, in honor of Mashiach and the world to come.

The number twenty-nine is connected to the cycle of the moon (29.5 days to be exact), on which the Jewish month is based. Muslims, who consider themselves descendants of Yishmael, follow a purely lunar calendar. Twenty-nine is also the number of days in a woman’s menstrual cycle. (See Pirkei Avot below)

The lesson in Pirkei Avot for this week is found in the teaching of Rabbi Elazar the son of Chismah. He explains that the laws relating to bird sacrifices and menstrual cycles are essential, while astronomy and numerological calculations (gematria) are the spice of wisdom. (III:18) On Passover, we do not eat chametz, leavened bread. Spiritually, this represents the notion that on Passover we set aside everything that makes us feel “inflated” and takes away from our essence, our core identity as reflected in our relationship with G-d and with each other.    

Furthermore, on Passover, G-d connects to us on a deeply personal level, primarily as our Redeemer, instead of as the Creator of the Universe. (See Appendix I) This appears to be taught in this week’s Pirkei Avot: G-d does not want us to lose ourselves in grandiose and esoteric topics, such as astronomy and gematria. He would rather see us involved also in the details of properly serving Him in how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis.

The two sets of laws mentioned in Pirkei Avot are particularly important to daily conduct. They are fundamental to the relationship between G-d and the Jewish People, and between husband and wife (which is also a metaphor for our relationship with G-d, as expressed in Solomon’s Song of Songs). Bird sacrifices are related to our ability to come closer to G-d.  The word for sacrifice in Hebrew is korban, from the word karov, which means close (nowadays, because we cannot bring sacrifices, prayer and study serve as substitutes). Similarly, the laws related to the female menstrual cycle are essential in order to make wives permissible to their husbands.[5]

This week, the combination of sefirot results in chesed shebehod. This week, we work on ourselves in order to properly receive and appreciate G-d’s blessings that we receive during Passover. (This week would also represent the “eighth week” of Shavuot and “Shivah Yemei Miluim” of the cycle of Netzach. This is appropriate, as Pessach is the festival of redemption)

We learn from the beast of burden that in our path towards righteousness, Hashem helps us and journeys with us along the way. Nevertheless, we should not want or expect our spiritual development to be "spoon-fed." Even if ultimately everything comes from G-d, we must work hard to achieve spiritual elevation ourselves.






[1] Slifkin, p. 11
[2] Genesis 21:10, 48:22, Targum
[3] Ibid.
[4] Genesis 25:9, Rashi
[5] The Torah sets forth laws regarding times during a woman’s menses in which husband and wife do not touch, and instead interact primarily on a spiritual plane. These essential laws help preserve a higher level intimacy and attraction, since the physical side of the relationship is renewed each month.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tuesday, 22nd of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

7th day of Week 29 (the "Beast of Burden") and the 7th day (the "Swallow") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Malchut shebeChesed shebeHod, Foundation within Kindness within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

5th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Heh within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Heh-Kuf, Kuf-Heh) 

Lamentations:

The Lord has become like an enemy; He has destroyed Israel; He has destroyed all its palaces, laid in ruins its strongholds, and He increased in the daughter of Judah, pain and wailing.

הָיָה אֲדֹנָי | כְּאוֹיֵב בִּלַּע יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּלַּע כָּל אַרְמְנוֹתֶיהָ שִׁחֵת מִבְצָרָי ו וַיֶּרֶב בְּבַת יְהוּדָה תַּאֲנִיָּה וַאֲנִיָּה:

Song of Songs:

My beloved raised his voice and said to me, 'Arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.

עָנָה דוֹדִי וְאָמַר לִי קוּמִי לָךְ רַעְיָתִי יָפָתִי וּלְכִי לָךְ:

Hayom Yom

By day we take care to follow this order: Make Kiddush, then daven Mincha, and after that eat the festive yom tov meal.

The Baal Shem Tov used to eat three festival meals on Acharon Shel Pesach.

The Baal Shem Tov called the (third) meal of this day Mashiach's s'uda (the "festival meal of Mashiach"). Acharon Shel Pesach is the day for Mashiach's s'uda because on this day the radiance of the light of Mashiach shines openly.

In 5666 (1906) a new procedure was adopted for Pesach in the Yeshiva Tomchei T'mimim in Lubavitch: The students ate the Pesach meals all together, in the study hall. There were 310 students present seated at eighteen tables. My father the Rebbe ate the festive meal of Acharon Shel Pesach with the yeshiva students. He ordered that four cups of wine be given each student, and then declared, "this is Mashiach's s'uda."

Monday, 21st of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

6th day of Week 29 (the "Beast of Burden") and the 6th day (the "Songbird") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Yesod shebeChesed shebeHod, Foundation within Kindness within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

4th day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Dalet within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Dalet-Reish, Resih-Dalet) 

Lamentations:

He has bent His bow like an enemy, standing [with] His right hand as an adversary, and He has slain all that were pleasant to the eye; in the tent of the daughter of Zion, He has poured out His fury, [which is] like fire.

דָּרַךְ קַשְׁתּוֹ כְּאוֹיֵב נִצָּב יְמִינוֹ כְּצָר וַיַּהֲרֹג כֹּל מַחֲמַדֵּי עָיִן בְּאֹהֶל בַּת צִיּוֹן שָׁפַךְ כָּאֵשׁ חֲמָתוֹ:

Song of Songs:

My beloved resembles a gazelle or a fawn of the hinds; behold, he is standing behind our wall, looking from the windows, peering from the lattices.

דּוֹמֶה דוֹדִי לִצְבִי אוֹ לְעֹפֶר הָאַיָּלִים הִנֵּה זֶה עוֹמֵד אַחַר כָּתְלֵנוּ מַשְׁגִּיחַ מִן הַחֲלֹּנוֹת מֵצִיץ מִן הַחֲרַכִּים:

Hayom Yom

It was the custom in Lubavitch to stay awake on the night of the Seventh of Pesach as well as on Shavuot and on Hosha'ana Raba. By the age of nine I did not go to sleep on the Seventh of Pesach. One should study Torah the whole night.

Sunday, 20th of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

5th day of Week 29 (the "Beast of Burden") and the 5th day (the "Crane") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Hod shebeChesed shebeHod, Glory/Acknowledgement within Kindness within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

3rd day of the 9th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Gimmel within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Gimmel-Kuf, Kuf-Gimmel) 

Lamentations:

He has cut down in fierce anger all the strength of Israel; He has withdrawn His right hand [that shielded Israel] from the enemy, and He has burned in Jacob like a flaming fire, consuming all around.

גָּדַע בָּחֳרִי אַף כֹּל קֶרֶן יִשְׂרָאֵל הֵשִׁיב אָחוֹר יְמִינוֹ מִפְּנֵי אוֹיֵב וַיִּבְעַר בְּיַעֲקֹב כְּאֵשׁ לֶהָבָה אָכְלָה סָבִיב:

Song of Songs:

The sound of my beloved! Behold, he is coming, skipping over the mountains, jumping over the hills.

קוֹל דּוֹדִי הִנֵּה זֶה בָּא מְדַלֵּג עַל הֶהָרִים מְקַפֵּץ עַל הַגְּבָעוֹת:

Hayom Yom

One Pesach, Reb Chayim Avraham (the Alter Rebbe's son) went to his brother (the Mitteler Rebbe) to wish him gut yom-tov. Reb Chayim Avraham related on that occasion that the Alter Rebbe had said, "On Pesach one does not offer a guest food and drink, but the guest may help himself."

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ruth 2.5 days


Ruth 85 verses
34 days of cycle 16 + 1/2 at end of the year
2.5 verses per day
2 until Chai Elul and 3 until the end (or vice versa)

Shir HaShirim 7 cycles paralelling Eicha (154 verses including Psalms 30, 72, and 127)

Shabat, 19th of Nissan

Sefirot Combination (Cycles of Seven Weeks):

4th day of Week 29 (the "Beast of Burden") and the 4th day (the "Eagle") of the 5th cycle ("Hod"), Netzach shebeChesed shebeHod, Victory/Endurance within Kindness within Glory/Acknowledgement.

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

2nd day (together with the 1st day, the "Heavens," the "Earth," and the "Garden of Eden") of the 10th cycle ("Wind and Lightning"), Beit within the cycle of Kuf and Reish (Beit-Reish, Reish-Beit) 

Bar means "son"

Lamentations:

The Lord has destroyed and has had no pity on all the habitations of Jacob; in His wrath He has broken down the strongholds of Judah [lit. "daughter of Judah"]; He has struck [them] to the ground; He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.

בִּלַּע אֲדֹנָי וְלֹא (כתיב לֹא) חָמַל אֵת כָּל נְאוֹת יַעֲקֹב הָרַס בְּעֶבְרָתוֹ מִבְצְרֵי בַת יְהוּדָה הִגִּיעַ לָאָרֶץ חִלֵּל מַמְלָכָה וְשָׂרֶיהָ:

Song of Songs:

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field, that you neither awaken nor arouse the love while it is desirous.

זהִשְׁבַּעְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַ ִם בִּצְבָאוֹת אוֹ בְּאַיְלוֹת הַשָּׂדֶה אִם תָּעִירוּ | וְאִם תְּעוֹרְרוּ אֶת הָאַהֲבָה עַד שֶׁתֶּחְפָּץ:

Hayom Yom

My father once expanded on Ma nishtana (the "four questions" at the Seder):
How is this night, i.e. this present, final exile of Israel (exile being analogous to night) different from all other nights, i.e. all earlier exiles?
1) On all other nights we do not dip (the Hebrew word matbilin is used for immersion in a mikva for purification), expressing scouring, cleansing, purifying...
...even once; i.e. the cleansing was not completed in the earlier exiles, for they were followed by yet another exile;
but tonight we dip twice, this final exile will bring about the scouring of the body and the revelation of the soul.
2) On all other nights we eat chametz or matza. Following each of the earlier exiles our avoda involved our G‑dly soul (indicated by matza, a metaphor for nullification of self) and also our animal soul (indicated by chametz, a metaphor for ego, self-awareness);
But this night, following this final exile...
...we eat only matza, for the spirit of impurity will be abolished.
3) On all other nights we eat various greens. The face of a jealous person turns green, that color symbolizing envy. During the earlier exiles there were various forms of envy; for example, the competitive envy among Torah-scholars;
But on this night, after the final exile...
...only maror, bitter greens, the most intense sort of envy, similar to a statement in the Talmud that in the Hereafter "each tzadik will be scorched by the 'canopy' of his fellow."
4) On all other nights we eat either sitting or reclining... "Eating" indicates the spiritual delight, ta'anug, in the revelations that ensue from exile. There is the extension or manifest ta'anug, and there is (higher yet) the essence of ta'anug. Some through their avoda attain the extension of ta'anug, while others attain the essence of ta'anug.
...but tonight we all recline. After this final exile, all Israel will attain the quintessential ta'anug.
The soul is "on loan" to man, and it is written "Days are formed", i.e. there is a fixed number of days that each man shall live, and if one day is missing - one garment is missing.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tenth Set of 22 Days: Kuf and Reish, Wind and Lightning Bolts (the Priestly Family of Seorim)

The 18th of Nissan begins the tenth set of 22 days of the Jewish calendar, which parallels the letters Kuf and Reish, as well as the Wind and Lighting Bolts in Perek Shirah. This 22-day period comes in the middle of the Passover holiday, and extends until the 9th of Iyar, halfway through the counting of the Omer.

Kuf means "monkey," which is one of the primary symbols of impurity, Klippah, which itself begins with a Kuf. The Kuf is shaped like an imperfect Heh (which represents holiness), just like a monkey is an imperfect imitation of a human being. At the times that we behave properly, the Torah states that five (gematria of Heh) of us will chase one hundred (gematria of Kuf). 


On the other hand, Kuf can also stand for holiness itself, Kedushah, which also begins with the letter Kuf. We therefore see that the Kuf has potential for both holiness and unholiness, and represents the process of transformation from unholiness to holiness, just as during these days between Passover and Shavuot the Jews went from the 49th level of unholiness to the 49th level of holiness. Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh in his book, The Hebrew Letters, states that the Kuf represents the kabbalistic concept of "Redemption of Fallen Sparks." (p.280) In Kabbalah, redeeming the holy sparks is the very reason for our existence (Tikkun Olam, "fixing the world"), and the rationale behind our exile(s).


The next letter, the Reish, also represents a similar dual concept. It can stand for Rash (poor) or Rosh (head), just as the month of Nissan itself is both the head of all the months and yet a month of humility in which we eat the bread of poverty. Nissan represent Judah, the head of all the tribes, and yet someone who was humbly willing to accept his shortcomings and transform them. Similar to the Kuf, Rav Ginsburgh states that the Reish stands for Avodat HaBerurim (the service of clarification), which is also very much related to the redemption of the sparks mentioned above. Once the Avodat HaBerurim is completed, Mashiach (son of David, from Judah) will come and bring about the ingathering of the exiles and redemption.


Furthermore, the Zohar mentions that two letters Kuf and Reish together also have a poor connotation. They form part of the word Sheker, a lie. Kuf and Reish by themselves spell Kar, coldness, also associated with impurity (Raskin). Kuf and Reish are also the first two letters of the word Keri, a strong form of impurity associated with seminal emission, as well as with Amalek. Yet, when the last letter of the word Keri, the yud (which, like the Heh, stands for G-dliness) is placed in the beginning, in front of the Kuf and the Reish, it forms the word Yakar, which means "dear." Here too, we see that impurity can be transformed into a feeling of dearness and closeness to G-d.


A similar theme can be found in the Perek Shirah verses of the Wind and the Lightning Bolts:



The Wind is saying, “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Do not withhold; bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 43:6)

The Lightning Bolts are saying, “He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain; He brings forth the wind from His storehouses." (Psalms 135:7)

The verses above are clearly related to the ingathering of the exiles. Both verses speak of the "ends of the earth." This is related to Passover, but also to Yom Ha'Atzma'ut. (See here, how theoretically Yom Ha'Atzma'ut could be celebrated as late as the 9th of Iyar, the 24th day of the Omer). 


Wind in Hebrew is "Ruach," which also means spirit. It is a word specifically connected to Mashiach, and the Haftorah we read for the last day of Passover. The miracle of the splitting of the sea, celebrated on the 7th days of Passover, also is connected to the wind.
The verse of the wind specifically addresses two kinds of exile, north (Assyria) and south (Egypt), telling the forces of impurity to "give up" and "not withhold," elevating the sparks and transforming them into holiness.

The Lightning Bolts also bring to mind the miracles of Egypt and the giving of the Torah at Sinai (marked by both thunder and lightning). The verse also speaks of the Lightning Bolts making "vapors" ascend, which seems very much parallel to the concept of elevating the fallen sparks back to their source. In fact, Rav Ginsburgh mentions "vapor" as an aspect of elevating fallen sparks, related to both the Reish itself and the form of the Reish within the Kuf itself (made of a Reish and Zayin). Interestingly, the verse of the Lightning Bolts also mentions the wind.


The Temple guard for these 22 days is connected to the priestly family of Seorim. Seorim means sheaves of barley, which is exactly the material used for the Omer offering. The Omer is referred to in the Torah as 'Minchat Seorim," an offering of barley. This is connected to the Counting of the Omer done at this time of year. 




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