Tonight in the Weekly Cycle



Quick Start:

Friday, April 10, 2020

Portuguese Introduction (2011 Draft)

Por vezes nos sentimos isolados em nosso canto, espalhados que estamos dentre os diversos e mais remotos espaços físicos, emocionais, intelectuais e espirituais. Sentimos que estamos perdidos, desconectados do mundo exterior, afastados das pessoas, natureza, de D’us e que, esta situação não tem remédio! Tão ocupados com os afazeres de nossas vidas e distraídos pela avalanche de informação supérflua, perdemos a sintonia com os sinais existentes a nossa volta – os avisos que Ele apresenta a cada instante. Além disso, inúmeras vezes nos apegamos a valores falsos que confundem a mente e o coração, obstruindo os verdadeiros valores da alma.

Visando uma vida mais harmoniosa, este livro tem por objetivo difundir valores e técnicas judaicas. Se utilizadas diariamente, asseguramos que irá promover uma transformação pessoal positiva. Para tanto, a narrativa tem como elemento básico associar lições judaicas ao tempo físico. O Judaísmo é uma religião principalmente ligada ao tempo e não ao espaço físico. Cumpre notar que, os ensinamentos para aprimoramento espiritual visando aplacar a distância entre o indivíduo e Seu Criador estão justamente prescritos na Torá. As lições sagradas estão ao alcance de todos, perto da boca e coração, e não misteriosas ou distantes: nos céus, montanhas ou mar (Deuteronômio 30:11 e seguintes). Portanto, este livro pretende mostrar como acessar ferramentas “desconhecidas”, mas existentes na Torá. Assim, pretendemos que o livro ajude a propiciar um canal aberto de diálogo com D’us.

Está escrito nos Livros Sagrados que poderoso é aquele que contém suas paixões e ira (Pirkê Avot 4:1). Quantos litígios podem ser evitados se o ser humano contiver seus ímpetos de arrogância e fanatismo? Acreditamos que através de uma luta diária, o indivíduo pode obter uma transformação pessoal, como também promover mudanças no seu núcleo familiar, comunitário, e assim, sucessivamente. Afinal, conforme prega Isaías, a Terra não foi criada para ser um caos (Capítulo 45:18). Precisamos sim, e desesperadamente, viver em um mundo melhor, e deixá-lo mais pacífico para as futuras gerações.

Seguimos twitters, blogs e sites... Estamos sempre em busca. Porque então não darmos uma chance a esse método aqui mapeado de conexão com D’us? Se utilizado todas as semanas do ano, promoverá uma conexão direta com o Criador. Como ensina o Rabino Schneur Zalman de Liadi, é preciso “viver com o tempo”!

Resumidamente, este livro promove uma forma de viver ligada com o tempo. Serve de auto-análise e desenvolvimento espiritual, a partir das canções de cada animal no Perek Shirá, dos preceitos de cada rabino do Pirkê Avot, e sefirá (característica divina) ligada a cada dia da contagem do ômer.

A contagem do ômer sempre foi usada pelo Povo Judeu como base de aprimoramento espiritual. A contagem começa em Pessach e segue até Shavuot. No Egito, o Povo Judeu estava no 49o nível de impureza. Durante a contagem do ômer, gradativamente o povo se purificou, revertendo o quadro para atingir o 49o nível de pureza! Ao chegar no Monte Sinai, estavam tão refinados espiritual e emocionalmente, que ali acamparam em harmonia e paz, com união total: “como uma pessoa só, com um só coração”. Só assim foram merecedores e puderam ser presenteados com a Torá.
Da mesma forma, é possível obter esse aperfeiçoamento através da concentração diária em uma sefirá (uma explicação mais detalhada sobre o significado das sefirot (plural de sefirá) segue abaixo). A contagem do ômer ocorre na maior parte dentro do mês de Iyar, que está ligado a cura. O mês de Iyar é conhecido como um mês de healing, pois é formado pelas letras hebraicas que simbolizam o verso “Eu sou Deus Seu Curador” (Êxodo 15:26).

Abrindo parênteses, além de ser uma época de elevação espiritual e cura, lamentavelmente o ômer marca uma era triste na história do Povo Judeu. Em decorrência de uma praga, faleceram vinte e quatro mil alunos do Rabi Akiva, justo durante esses dias. Esta praga que ocorreu exatamente pela falta de união e respeito mútuo entre os alunos, terminou no 33o dia do ômer, Lag Ba'Ômer. Este é um dos motivos pelos quais essa data é tão celebrada. A outra principal razão pela qual se comemora Lag Ba’Ômer é atribuída ao yahrzeit – aniversário de falecimento – do grande tzadik Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai, muitos anos depois. Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai é o autor do celebrado Livro Zohar, o texto básico da Cabalá.

Impressionante notar, tal qual a festividade de Lag Ba'Ômer representa dois terços (33/50) da contagem dos dias entre os feriados judaicos de Pessach a Shavuot, também –– a semana de Lag Ba’Ômer constitui a trigésima terceira semana do ano, de acordo com o calendário judaico. O cômputo das semanas é sempre feito a partir da semana de Rosh Hashaná, no mesmo dia da semana na qual começa a contagem do ômer. Por exemplo, se Pessach cai numa terça-feira e a contagem do ômer começa na quarta-feira, então a contagem das semanas começaria na quarta-feira antes de Rosh Hashaná. Assim, é possível dar a cada dia do ano uma combinação de sefirot. Lag Ba’ômer representará não só hod shebehod, mas sim, hod shebehod shebehod (5o dia, 5a. semana e 5a serie de sete semanas). (Para saber quado começa cada semana do ano, veja a Tabela II, no final do livro).
Em consequência, cada semana deste livro está representada e conectada por uma variação das sefirot, procedimento semelhante ao adotado durante a contagem do ômer entre Pessach e Shavuot. A partir das características de cada sefirá, este livro mostra como uma pessoa pode trabalhar o seu lado interior visando auto-aprimoramento.

Entre Pessach e Shavuot, na maioria das comunidades judaicas, existe o costume de se estudar o Pirkê Avot, também como mecanismo de auto-aperfeiçoamento. Pirkê Avot, que significa Capítulos dos Patriarcas, é parte da Mishná (Torá oral) compilada por Rabi Iehudá HaNassi. Nesses capítulos, cada principal rabino da geração escreve, o que considera de mais importante para se viver eticamente de acordo com a Torá. Pirkê Avot também pode ser entendido como “Capítulos dos Pais”, pois nele estão incluídos os princípios fundamentais para o estudo e cumprimento da Torá. Neste sentido, as lições do Pirkê Avot são como "pais", e o restante da Torá são como filhos. Tal conclusão é uma decorrência dos conceitos básicos listados nesses capítulos sagrados.

Este livro mostrará como os pronunciamentos dos rabinos constantes nos primeiros quatro capítulos do Pirkê Avot estão organizados; de tal forma que, cada rabino corresponde a uma semana do ano. Igualmente, se revelará como este trabalho semanal de auto-aprimoramento também está relacionado com cada animal do Livro Perek Shirá. O Perek Shirá que significa Capítulo da Canção, é um texto pouco conhecido. Foi publicado em apenas alguns livros de prece no mundo. Outra razão pelo qual seu texto não é veiculado, reside no fato de que sua leitura não é obrigatória durante as rezas diárias. De autoria ainda desconhecida, certos comentaristas atribuem a criação do Perek Shirá ao Rei David ou ao seu filho, o Rei Salomão.

Dentre outros livros sagrados do judaísmo, o Perek Shirá é pioneiro em matéria ambiental. Este poético livro contém os elementos essenciais do universo, incluindo os céus e a terra, plantas e animais. Suas páginas sãode extremo lirismo, deslumbramento e exaltação ao Criador. Tal qual ocorre em um concerto de orquestra, ao invés de músicos, cada animal deste livro oferece sua contribuição em prol de um belo resultado sentimental. No caso do Perek Shirá, o produto final é desvelado através da melhor possível aclamação à D’us por parte dos representantes do reino animal ali elencados.

É sabido que o ser humano pode aprender sobre conduta observando o comportamento dos animais e os atos da natureza. No Livro de Jó, está contido o ensinamento de como devemos glorificar a D’us observando o procedimento dos pássaros (Capítulo 35:11). O Talmud nos ensina que mesmo sem a Torá, aprenderíamos sobre modéstia com os gatos, e a não roubar com as formigas (Eruvim 100b). Neste sentido, o Pirkê Avot leciona através do ensinamento de Iehudá ben Teimá, para sermos ousados como o leopardo, ligeiros como a águia, ágeis como o veado, e fortes como o leão.(Cap. 5:23). Impressionante: também o livro de Provérbios ensina ao preguiçoso para observar a formiga e com ela adquirir sabedoria. Este animal embora não tenha patrão, supervisor ou soberano, provê seu pão no verão e estoca alimento durante a colheita (Cap. 6:6)!

Na realidade, muitas vezes para o ser humano é mais fácil aprender determinadas condutas com os animais. Sabemos que o indivíduo é cheio de paradoxos e conflitos internos, enquanto os animais tem características fortes e claras, sem espaço para as tantas sutilezas humanas.

Prosseguindo, fascinante observar na leitura do Perek Shirá como os animais reconhecem o poder criador de D’us e são agradecidos em seus louvores! Se os animais glorificam à D’us, que dirá como a humanidade deveria louvá-Lo, já que detém o poder da comunicação verbal... Sob o prisma ecológico, nas páginas do Perek Shirá encontram-se distintos louvores do reino animal exaltando as maravilhas do Criador. E, através de cada animal e de sua respectiva canção, extraímos lições edificantes para combater inclusive a depressão.
É extraordinário perceber que dentre todos os elementos da Terra que glorificam seu Criador Único, existem os animais listados no Livro exatamente em número de 52, um para cada semana do ano!

As páginas deste livro vão mostrar o elo de conexão dos animais do Perek Shirá, dos rabinos do Pirkê Avot, e de cada combinação de sefirot, com as datas relacionadas a cada semana.
Este livro pode ser lido de uma vez do início ao fim, mas seu propósito principal é de que seja vivenciando a cada semana. Além de explicar o significado de cada mês no calendário judaico e de apontar datas e feriados importantes, a idéia é fazer com que o indivíduo se conecte com a energia espiritual da semana através de três prismas: Perek Shirá, Pirkê Avot e contagem do ômer. A intenção é propiciar ao leitor a internalização dos ensinamentos contidos nestas páginas, de modo a alcançar uma conduta mais positiva no dia-a-dia.

O livro também pode ser vivenciado durante cada dia da própria contagem do ômer, de Pessach até Shavuot (usando uma semana para cada dia), pois a contagem do ômer é em si um microcosmo de todo o ano. As 52 semanas também se refletem por inteiro nos rituais e horários do dia. (Ver Apêndice e Tabela I, no final do livro)

Para poder cumprir a jornada devidamente, o leitor precisará ter humildade e mente aberta, além de outro ingrediente básico imprescindível: fé em D’us. Está escrito no Midrash1 que o mar se abriu e os judeus só puderam prosseguir depois que Nachshon se jogou ao mar. Com o propósito de recordar o episódio, sabemos que o Povo Judeu estava completamente emboscado antes da abertura do mar. Qual a saída? Na frente, águas profundas e, atrás, o impiedoso exército egípcio. Por tudo isto, o povo estava hesitante e incrédulo, apesar dos inúmeros milagres divinos que tinham culminado com sua libertação do Egito. Sem titubear, acreditando piamente em um desenlace favorável, Nachshon se lançou ao mar. Quando as águas estavam já entrando em suas narinas, o Mar Vermelho se abriu e todos o seguiram. O Midrash explica que D’us queria que Seu povo agisse baseado em fé.

ortanto, a partir do exemplo de Nachshon aprende-se que basta ter certeza e acreditar com fervor no Eterno Único Criador do resplandecente universo. Os obstáculos foram removidos pois existiu determinação por parte de Nachshon de realizar um desígnio divino. Afinal, nada é impossível ou sequer difícil para o Eterno que tirou Seu povo da terra do Egito (Êxodo 20:2 e Salmo 78). Isto mesmo, D’us tirou Seu querido povo da escravidão: Ele não enviou anjos nem emissários para esta missão, realizada com Sua mão poderosa e braço estendido (Deuteronômio 4:34). Por isto, além de celebrar anualmente a festividade de Pessach, diariamente nas rezas matutinas, o Povo Judeu lembra de sua libertação da escravatura, ocorrida há milênios atrás.

Em conclusão, imbuído de fé pode o indivíduo trilhar firme esta proposta para uma bela jornada espiritual de duração anual. E é movido pela fé, verdade e esperança que as ferramentas na busca de entendimento da sabedoria judaica se seguem apresentadas nas próximas páginas deste livro.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Introduction to 22-Day Cycles


Introduction

We live in a time of tremendous material disparity. While many of us have access to technologies and luxuries previous generations could not even dream of, large populations remain deprived not only of such advances, but also of even the most basic needs and services such as food, water, shelter, healthcare, and personal safety. Millions have been displaced, many of which are still searching for a place to call home, while many more millions live in tension and often despair.

We also have become enslaved to a culture of always having to know what just happened in the last moment, and eager for constant updates, no matter how impersonal or irrelevant to our daily lives. We are made aware of “breaking news” and “latest developments,” tragedies and dangers across the globe that stimulate, but also alarm us and cause additional anxiety. We are impacted by this deluge of information,[1] which often is opinionated and sensationalized, meant to seek attention instead of to inform, when not to deliberately mislead and slander.  We lose ourselves, our focus and time, and cannot even accomplish the simplest of tasks without interruption. In the process, we have also lost much of our privacy. Every piece of information gleaned about us becomes a marketing tool, if not something worse.

In the area of social interaction and networking, we have never been so electronically “connected” and yet so distant and “disconnected” at the same time. Many become enamored and even addicted to receiving personal approval through “likes” and “hearts” on social media that are not only impersonal, but probably mean next to nothing or nothing at all. Responses are also expected to be almost immediate, as more and more devices track not only if a message was sent, but also when it was read. Relationships are becoming empty and superficial, and many suffer from loneliness and depression, which can go unnoticed and untreated.

Furthermore, individuals are often in a state of constant struggle. This can be due to past traumas or disappointments, addictions or fraught relationships, or perhaps challenges in the areas of health, finding a spouse, fertility, raising children, caring for a loved one, or making a living.  Even for the most privileged among us, there is a general sense of unfulfilled potential, a sense that there's something missing.

The truth is that in fact there is something missing. Humanity remains "unredeemed," even if most of us do not even know what such “redemption” would entail. In the quest for fulfillment, many are unaware of how Judaism, Chassidism in particular, can provide us with the tools necessary to address our challenges and to live in a state of gratitude and joy.

With these tools, one is better able to face struggles and losses, both collective and individual. While acknowledging shortcomings, one learns to be compassionate and forgiving, focusing on the good within others and within oneself. One can also rediscover how to have faith and live in the present, as well as the wisdom and delight contained within every Divine teaching and commandment. 

This approach is best exemplified in the period in the Jewish calendar known as the "Three Weeks of Mourning." Every year, between the 17th of the Jewish month of Tammuz[2] and the 9th of the month of Av, the Jewish people remember our greatest losses: the destruction of the First and Second Temples. The Temple, originally built by King Solomon, and then rebuilt by Ezra and Nehemiah,[3] was the focus of Jewish observance at the time. Even today, many of our rituals and symbols, prayers and houses of worship, are based on how services in the Temple were performed. Its destruction, first by the Babylonians (684 B.C.E.) and then by the Romans (70 C.E.), represents a calamity of gigantic proportions, and was accompanied by murder and persecution of the Jewish population of those times.

The Book of Lamentations[4] states that, "all her pursuers overtook her [Jerusalem] within the straits." The "straits" is a reference to this three-week period. On the 17th of Tammuz, the walls of Jerusalem were breached, which eventually led to the destruction of the Temple. Both Temples were destroyed on the same date on the Jewish calendar: the 9th of Av. The Code of Jewish Law states that when Av begins, “we decrease in joy.”[5]  As further explained below, there are certain restrictions that apply to the Jewish people during this time, so as to decrease activities that lead to happiness.

But if the goal in overcoming our struggles and losses is to be joyful and grateful, how can we learn to do so specifically from the days in which such tragedies took place, to the extent that we are urged to decrease in joy on them? With G-d’s help, the answer to this question, as well as to how we can incorporate the lessons from this period into the entire year, will be found in the following chapters of this book.



Seeking Balance

Tisha B’Av is the day of our greatest tragedies, yet it is also the day that marks the birth (and the much anticipated arrival) of Mashiach. Everything in G-d’s creation is balanced in perfect equilibrium: darkness and light, purity and impurity, good and evil, and even sadness and joy.[6] This is best exemplified by the teachings of the wisest man to ever live, King Solomon. In Ecclesiastes, he sets out various opposing emotions and actions, and states that there are specific times for each. There is also a famous legend about King Solomon’s ring, which could balance out a person’s joy or sadness, and had the following words inscribed: “This too shall pass.”[7]

Rabbi Moses Maimonides, known as the most important codifier of Jewish law since perhaps Moses himself,[8] also begins his magnum opus, the Mishna Torah, by stating that a person should always strive for balance and moderation, also known as the “middle path.” Maimonides, who was also a physician, elaborated on the known scientific concept of Homeostasis, which means that the human body itself is always in search of balance.

During the Three Weeks, from the Seventeenth of Tammuz to Tisha B’Av we remember that our world was literally torn apart – our walls breached, our Temple destroyed - but that was only in order to rebuild ourselves and achieve even greater heights. Whenever we are faced with struggles that bring us down, we must quickly strive to regain our balance and keep moving forward, in harmony with ourselves and the world.

This book will focus on three concepts in order to achieve this balance:

I.                    The Hebrew Alphabet and the Sefirot –the Building Blocks of Creation

Our sages teach us that the building blocks of Creation are the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the Alef Beit.[9] G-d used these letters in order to create each and every element of existence. The letter by itself is an ingredient – the word is the smallest unit.[10] It is interesting that in Hebrew, letters only create words once they connect to one another, and are balanced by one another.

Each one of us is also an Olam Katan, a “small world,” and we also contain within us the elemental forces of the Alef Beit, just as each one of us contains a mirror image of the Sefirot.[11]

Just as the Alef Beit has twenty-two letters, there are twenty-two days from the 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of Av. We may therefore use these days to strengthen our connection to the Alef Beit within ourselves.

On Tisha B’Av, we read together the Book of Lamentations, in which each of the four first chapters is written as an acrostic – the first verse starts with an Alef, followed by Beit, Gimmel, etc. until the last verse of the chapter which starts with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the Tav. The last chapter of Lamentations has twenty-two verses, but is not an acrostic. This break in structure appears to symbolize how everything has gone out of order, and is in desperate need to be put back in place. That is our job during these days – to put things, including our internal Alef Beit, back in order,[12] in balance.


Study of Torah – the Blueprint of Creation

Another way in which we seek to build ourselves and find balance during this period is through the study of Torah. While on Tisha B’Av we do not study most Torah subjects, there are certain topics that are permitted, particularly those related to the destruction of the Temple. One Talmudic story in particular that is generally studied is the story of Kamza and Bar Kamza. This is an account of the baseless hatred, extremism, and the general lack of harmony that existed among the Jews (and also between the Jews and the Romans), which ultimately led to the destruction of the Temple.

More broadly, during the summer months that include Tammuz and Av, there is a widespread custom to continue to study Pirkei Avot – the Ethics of our Fathers.[13] This work is particularly geared towards improving our relationships and being in harmony with our fellow human beings. During the 9 days of Av, there is also a custom of making Siyumim (completing tractates of Talmud study, and sharing the joy of completing the study with others.[14]


Perek Shirah – Balance within Creation

Another potential source of balance is to look at Creation itself. In the first chapters of Perek Shirah, a Song of Nature attributed to King David, the elements listed come in pairs that are often diametrically opposed: Heaven and Earth, Day and Night, Gan Eden (Paradise) and Gehinom (Purgatory), etc. Here is as well the lesson appears to be that G-d is not to be found in one extreme or another, but in moderation. This was G-d’s ultimate message to Elijah the Prophet:

Then the word of the Lrd came to him: ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’ He replied, I am moved by the zeal for the Lrd, Gd of Hosts…” The Lrd said to him, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lrd, for the Lrd is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lrd. But the Lrd was not in the wind. After the wind was an earthquake, but the Lrd was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire. But the Lrd was not in the fire. And after the fire – a still, small voice.
(I Kings 19:9-12)



Yeridah L’Tzorech Aliyah (Descent for the Purpose of Spiritual Ascent)

A key concept in Jewish thought is the notion of “Yeridah leTzorech Aliyah,that every descent is only for the sake of an even greater and fuller ascent. After Tisha B’Av, comes Tu B’Av, the day in which the moon is full again. The joy of Tu B’Av is the greatest of the entire year because it comes after the tragedy of Tisha B’Av.[15]

As we seek to find our balance, we can learn from the brokenness and deep introspection of Tisha B’Av how to be joyful and empathetic, and connected to others during the rest of the year.[16] From certain acts which we are prohibited to do on Tisha B’Av (specifically because they increase our joy), we can learn what we should do during the rest of the year. We also learn how to be joyful and apply these lessons from the customs connected to Tu B’Av.

For example, on Tisha B’Av, we are not supposed to greet people and ask how they are doing. (The exact language used is to “inquire about their peace,” which involved more than just a superficial greeting.)[17] We learn from this, how important it is to greet people with a smile and show sincere interest in their wellbeing during the rest of the year. Tu B’Av commemorates a series of events in which the Jewish people were reunited and showed empathy for one another. On that day, young men would go out of to greet the young maidens in order to find their brides.

The potential brides would exclaim, “Young man, please lift up your eyes and see what you choose for yourself for a wife. Do not set your eyes toward beauty, but set your eyes toward a good family.” The Talmud teaches that each woman would speak of different qualities that they thought might make a good impression on a potential groom, focusing on their good points. Similarly, by asking the men to “lift up their eyes,” the young women would encourage them to look at them in a more spiritual way.

Similarly, on Tisha B’Av, along with not eating and drinking, we also do not bathe, perfume ourselves, wear leather shoes, and do things that give us physical benefit and embellish us, improving our general wellbeing. We learn from this that during the rest of the year, we are supposed take care of ourselves, and make sure that we can feel and be at our best. On Tu B’Av, the young women would dress nicely in borrowed pure white garments. The Talmud states that the clothes were borrowed out of concern for the women who may not have a garment. This carries a tremendous lesson regarding the need for empathy.

On Tisha B’Av, we are forbidden to study topics of Torah that make us happy. We learn from this how great it is to study Torah (and to find joy in it!) during the rest of the year. The Talmud teaches that starting from Tu B’Av, as the nights become longer, the Jewish people would increase in their Torah study.

On Tisha B’Av, and during the entire three weeks that precede it, we do not listen to music. On Tu B’Av, the young women would dance together.

As will be explained in further detail in the next chapter, the entire year can be divided into cycles of 22 days, and the Three Weeks is one of those cycles. We can apply the lessons of these three weeks to the entire year using fundamental tools and sacred texts that follow this 22-day pattern, and thereby function in greater harmony with the Jewish calendar. As noted in our first book, the idea is to find and connect our fourfold song: the song of the individual, the song of the Jewish people, the song of humanity, and the song of nature as a whole.



[1] As mentioned in Book 1.
[2] The Jewish Calendar, which is determined by both the sun and the moon, consists of 12 months (13 in leap years): Tishrei, Cheshvan, Kislev, Teveth, Shvat, Adar (I and II in leap years), Nissan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Av, and Elul. Each month is also connected to various other “forces” in nature, including also the signs of the Zodiac.
[3] Ezra the Scribe was…. Nehemiah was…
[4] This book was composed by the Prophet Jeremiah and is part of the Tanach (the Jewish Bible). Contrary to public perception, the writings in that book were composed prior to the destruction of the First Temple, even though it describes in great detail all the tragedies that took place.
[5] (Explain Code of Jewish Law – “set table”; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, 122:7)
[6] Jewish law itself balances the statement that as of the month Av begins we decrease in joy, with the statement that when the month of Adar begins we increase in joy.
[7] Footnote?
[8] “From Moses to Moses, there was none like Moses.”
[9] The Sefer Yetzirah, one of the foremost Kabbalistic works, begins by explaining that G-d created the world through 32 mystical paths, which represent the ten sefirot and the twenty two letters. The verse first of the Torah, “In the beginning, G-d created the Heavens and the Earth, Bereshit Barah Elokim Et HaShamayim ve’Et Ha’Aretz,” can also be read as, “Bereshit Barah Elokim ‘Et’ [spelled Alef Tav” In the beginning, G-d created [the Hebrew letters] from Alef, the first letter, to Tav, the last.
[10] http://www.askmoses.com/en/article/228,2266616/A-Language-of-Letters-Inside-the-Hebrew-Alef-Bet.html
[11] The Kabbalah explains that G-d’s attributes manifest themselves in heavenly spheres known as sefirot. Sefirah (sefirot in the plural) can be translated as emanation, characteristic, quality or divine attribute. We also have a reflection of these sefirot within us, which are also known as middot. There are ten sefirot in total, three intellectual (Keter (or Da’at), Chochma, Bina) and seven emotional (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut).
[12] The Hebrew word for order is Seder, which is also the name of the Passover meal. Part of the redemption process is putting everything, including our intellectual and emotional energies, in its proper place. An aspect of this spiritual work begins on Pessach and goes through the entire 49-day period of the Counting of the Omer (in which each day we “work” on a combination of Sefirot, and culminates on Shavuot.” The Passover Seder and Tisha B’Av are extremely connected – to the extent that we even place an egg on the Seder Plate as a reminder of Tisha B’Av and the destruction of the Temple. Both nights also always fall on the same day of the week. 
[13] The communal study of Pirkei Avot begins in the Counting of the Omer, as a way to fix our emotions, as mentioned in the previous note.
[14] Despite our limited understanding, we focus on the good: we celebrate our achievements in Torah and promise to return to our study.

[15]  Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel says, “Never were more joyous festivals in Israel than the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur.” On this day, young maidens of Israel would dress in white and dance in the vineyards. Young men would come greet them in order to find their brides. Thus the full moon of Av is seen as greater than that of any of the other months, due to the contrast between its brightness and the deep darkness of the Ninth (Tisha b'Av) that precedes it. The greater the descent the greater the ascent, and "greater is the light that emerges from darkness." (see Tanya ch.26 — based on Prov. 14:23 and Eccl. 2:13.) https://www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/4089863/jewish/FIFTEENTH-OF-AV-TU-BAV.htm
[16] Story about the Friederker Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, putting the clothes of others.
To be able to truly relate to others, we must try our best to put ourselves in the other’s shoes.
[17] Shulchan Aruch p. ___ - Shulchan Aruch, which means “Set Table,” is the compilation of Jewish Law for practical day-to-day activities, including festivals, etc.

Friday, January 31, 2020

The 32 Paths of Wisdom: Chapters 1 - 3 of Perek Shirah, the Hebrew Alphabet and the 10 Sefirot

In Book I, we spoke about 7 cycles of 7 weeks, with the Counting of the Omer representing a microcosm of the entire year, with each week of the year representing a day of the Omer (the last 3 weeks represent the days of Shavuot (of the previous year) and Passover (of the coming year)).

Now we show how the Jewish calendar can also be divided into 33 cycles of 11 days, paralleling the elements in the first 3 chapters of Perek Shirah. These elements (and cycles) come in pairs and, therefore, can be thought of as 16 1/2 cycles of 22 days. 

There are 50 Gates of Binah (understanding) and 32 Paths of Chochmah (wisdom). Both are represented in Perek Shirah. The 50 Gates of Binah are connected to the Counting of the Omer. The 32 Paths of Chochma appear related to the Three Weeks. Sefer Yetzirah explains that they represent the 22 letters of the Aleph Beit in addition to the 10 SefirotAccording to the table below, each 22-day cycle would have two letters (or sefirot) and two elements of Perek Shirah’s  Chapter 1 through 3.

Also in Book I, we showed how the Counting of Omer was exactly the 5th cycle of 7 weeks, making the week of Lag Ba’Omer (the yahrzeit of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai), the 33rd week of the year, and Lag Ba'Omer itself the fifth day of the fifth week of the fifth cycle of 7 weeks, “Hod shebeHod shebeHod.” 

A similar parallel exists for the three weeks of mourning from the 17th of Tammuz to the 9th of AvIt falls exactly on the 14th 22-day cycle (or the 27th and 28th 11-day cycle) of the year.

Just as the Counting of the Omer is a microcosm of the weeks of the year, culminating on Lag Ba'Omer, a similar microcosm exists that runs from Yud Beis/Yud Gimmel Tammuz through Tu B'Av. These 33 days revolve around the 22 days of the Three Weeks, including a half of the 11-day cycle (5.5 days) prior to it and half of the 11-day cycle that follows.


These 33 days parallel the time period from the beginning of the yahrzeit of the Ari, on the 5th of Av, until the end of the following day, the 6th of Av. (Everything in these calculations appears to be about pairs, even the Ari's yahrzeit. When it comes to matters of Yahrzeits, like sacrifices in the Temple, the holiness is extended through the night of the following day. Still, as a side note, it is worth mentioning that the previous day, the 4th of Av, would be equivalent to the 16 1/2 days prior, which include the 3rd of Tammuz, a precursor to the festive date of Yud Beis/Yud Gimmel Tammuz).

Each of the 33 days (16.5 pairs) parallel each of the 11-day cycles of the year. Interestingly, the days of 9th and 10th of Av parallel the the 22-day cycle of Three Weeks themselves.


12th of Tammuz
1
Alef
1st Cycle
Heaven
11:35 PM
Three weeks from Selichot to Sukkot
13th of Tammuz
2
Beit
Earth
11:47 PM
14th of Tammuz
3
Gimmel
2nd Cycle
Garden of Eden
11:59 PM
Three weeks from Sukkot to Cheshvan
15th of Tammuz
4
Dalet
Gehinnom
12:11 AM
16th of Tammuz
5
Heh
3rd Cycle
Wilderness
12:23 AM
Three weeks from Cheshvan to Rosh Chodesh Kislev
17th of Tammuz
6
Vav
Fields
12:35 AM
18th of Tammuz
7
Zayin
4th Cycle
Waters
12:47 AM
Three weeks from Rosh Chodesh Kislev to Chanukah
19th of Tammuz
8
Chet
Seas
12:59 AM
20th of Tammuz
9
Tet
5th Cycle
Rivers
1:11 AM
Three weeks from Chanukah to Mid-Tevet
21st of Tammuz
10
Yud
Wellsprings (last water)
End of 2nd Watch (2/3) (1:23 AM)
22nd of Tammuz
11
Caf
6th Cycle
Day
1:35 AM
Three weeks from Mid-Tevet to Yud Shvat
23rd of Tammuz
12
Lamed
Night
1:47 AM
24th of Tammuz
13
Mem
7th Cycle
Sun
1:59 AM
Three weeks from Yud Shvat to Rosh Chodesh Adar
25th of Tammuz
14
Nun
Moon
2:11 AM
26th/27th of Tammuz
15/16
Samech/Ayin
8th Cycle
Stars (last of sky)
End of 3rd Watch (3/4) 2:23 AM
2:35 AM
Three weeks from Rosh Chodesh Adar to 24th of Adar
28th of Tammuz
17
Peh
Thick Clouds
2:47 AM
Three weeks from 25th of Adar to Pessach
29th of Tammuz
18
Tzadi
9th Cycle
Light Clouds
2:59 AM
1st of Av
19
Kuf
Wind
3:11 AM
Three weeks from Pessach to 9th of Iyar
2nd of Av
20
Resh
10th Cycle
Lighting Bolts
3:23 AM
3rd of Av
21
Shin
Dew
3:35 AM
Three weeks from 10th of Iyar to 2nd of Sivan
4th of Av
22
Tav
11th Cycle
Rain (last of clouds)
3:47 AM
5th of Av
23
Kaf Sofit (Keter)
Wild Trees
3:59 AM
Three weeks from 3rd of Sivan to 24th of Sivan
6th of Av
24
Kaf Sofit
(Chochmah)
12th Cycle
Vine
4:11 AM
7th of Av
25
Mem Sofit
(Binah)
Fig
4:23 AM
Three weeks from 25th of Sivan to 16th of Tammuz
8th of Av
26
Mem Sofit
(Chesed)
13th Cycle
Pomegranite
4:35 AM
9th of Av
27
Nun Sofit
(Gevurah)
Palm (Date)
Alot Hashachar (dawn) 4:47 AM
Three weeks from 17th of Tammuz to Tisha B’Av
10th of Av
28
Nun Sofit
(Tiferet)
14th Cycle
Esrog (Tapuach) (last tree)
4:59 AM
11th of Av
29
Peh Sofit
(Netzach)
Sheaves of Wheat
Earliest Shmah,Talit & Tefilin 5:11 AM
Three weeks from 10th of Av to Rosh Chodesh Elul
12th of Av
30
Peh Sofit
(Hod)
15th Cycle
Sheaves of Barley
5:23 AM
13th of Av
31
Tzadi Sofit
(Yesod)
Other Sheaves
5:35 AM
Three weeks from 2nd of Elul to 23rd of Elul
14th of Av
32
Tzadi Sofit
(Malchut)
16th Cycle
Vegetables of the Field
5:47 AM
15th of Av
33
Vowels
(Half)
Grasses
Past Netz (Sunrise) 5:59 AM
Past Rosh Hashanah

It is also worth noting that Yud Beis/Yud Gimmel Tammuz is called, "Chag HaGeulah." Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson was given notice of his liberation on his birthday, the 12th of Tammuz. Because it was Shabat, he did not leave until the following day, the 13th of Tammuz

The Rebbe mentions how the events of Yud Beis/Yud Gimmel Tammuz elevate the days of the remaining week, including the 17th of Tammuz. We see this also regarding how Rabbi Yosef Yitchak's Bar Mitzvah, which was on a Monday, and was celebrated all the way up until the 17th of Tammuz, which that year was on Shabbat. Similarly, on the year of the Arizal's passing, Tisha B'Av fell on Shabbat, and his passing on the 5th of Av on the Tuesday of the previous week elevated that day. Interestingly, in both years (like this year), those fast days did not involve any fasting. (the Rebbe discusses a similar concept here: http://www.chabadtalk.com/forum/showthread.php3?t=4436 )

This entire 33-day cycle itself is a pair, combining roughly half of Tammuz (Reuven) and half of Av (Shimon). The idea of pairs appears related to the concept of unity, such as the half shekel.






DOWNLOAD A FREE COPY OF PEREK SHIRAH HERE!

Blog Archive

Contributors