Passover (first day)(Exodus 12:21-51)
Passover (first day) 5769
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GOOD MORNING! Tuesday evening, April 18th begins the Seventh Day of Pesach, a full-fledged holiday which extends through Thursday evening April 20th. On Thursday Yizkor is recited, the prayer service for remembering one's loved ones who have passed on and giving merit to their neshamos (souls) in the next world.
The crossing of the Yam Soof, (usually translated as the Red Sea, more correctly translated as "The Reed Sea" or "Sea of Reeds") took place on the 7th day of Pesach. And the Jewish people continued their 50 day journey of self-perfection from leaving Egypt until the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai.
How do we begin to improve ourselves? It starts with a decision to change.
What if you had a special clock on top of your television that was counting down the hours and minutes until you were to die? When would you get up, turn off the TV and do all the things that you planned to do, hoped to do or thought about doing?
And what if in addition to your special clock, you had a special bank account where every morning you were credited in your bank account with $86,400 dollars on condition that you had to spend it all or lose it? What would you do? Spend it!! Well, you do have a special bank account called the Bank of Time! Each day you have exactly 86,400 seconds. What you don't invest wisely is written off each night. You can reap dividends, but you can't go into overdraft!
One has to value his time and know that it is limited in order to change. The Sephirat HaOmer period is about valuing time and about changing.
Q & A: WHAT IS SEPHIRAT HA-OMER?
On the second day of Pesach, the Omer offering from the new barley crop was brought in the Temple in Jerusalem. It began a period of counting and preparation for Shavuot, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the yearly celebration of re-accepting the Torah upon ourselves. This period is called Sephirat HaOmer, the counting of the Omer.
Forty-nine days are counted and on the fiftieth day is Shavuot, the Yom Tov celebrating the giving of the Torah. There is actually a mitzvah to count each specific day which is done at the completion of Ma'ariv, the evening service.
This is a period of national semi-mourning (no weddings or even haircuts).
It was during this period that Rabbi Akiva's 24,000 students died for not showing sufficient respect for each other. It is a time for us to reflect how we look upon and treat our fellow Jews as well as the tragedies that have befallen us because of unfounded (self-justified) hatred. It is a wonderful time to undertake to do an extra act of kindness; this will help to help bring perfection to the world and unity amongst Jews.
There are two customs for observing the semi-mourning period. The first is to observe it from the end of Pesach until the 33rd day of the Omer, this year Tuesday, May 16th. Many people get married on the 33rd day of the Omer for this reason. The second custom is to observe it from Rosh Chodesh Iyar (the beginning of the month of the Hebrew month of Iyar, Friday, April 28th) until Shavuot. Unusual for our heritage, one can choose each year which custom to follow!
These 50 days also correspond to the seven weeks after the Exodus from Egypt when the Jewish people prepared themselves to receive the Torah at Mt. Sinai. When we left Egypt we were on the 49th level of Tuma, spiritual degradation. Each day we climbed one step higher in spirituality and holiness. Many people study one of the "48 Ways to Wisdom" (Ethics of the Fathers, 6:6) each day as a means to personal and spiritual growth. Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the great educator and founder of Aish HaTorah, has his flagship series of lectures of the 48 Ways available on cassette or CD -available by calling (800) 864-2373 of http://www.AishAudio.com. They are also available in mp3 format via http://www.AishAudio.com. I think of this series as the "Jewish Dale Carnegie Course" for getting the most out of life! It will be one of the great purchases in your life! For more on Sephirat HaOmer and the 48 Ways go to http://www.aish.com and http://www.ShabbatShalomAudio.comShabbatShalomAudio.com !
For more on "The Omer" go to ShabbatShalomAudio.com!
Torah Portion of the Week
Shabbat Chol HaMoed Pesach
(We also read Shir HaShirim, King Solomon's Song of Songs.)
Moses pleads with the Almighty not to send an angel in His place, but to accompany the Jewish people Himself through the trek in the wilderness even though they had sinned with the Golden Calf. Moses asks the Almighty to reveal how He interacts with the universe (it is a mystical interchange). Then the Almighty commands Moses to carve two stone tablets and to ascend Mt. Sinai so that He can engrave the replacement tablets for the set that Moses broke at the transgression with the Golden Calf.
The Almighty reveals his Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Exodus 34:5) which we repeat on Yom Kippur and other times of seeking the Almighty's mercy. Moses asks the Almighty to forgive the Jewish people. The Almighty renews the Covenant with the Jewish people commanding us not to enter into a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, not make molten gods, to observe the Festival of Matzos, laws of first born issue, to keep the Shabbat, celebrate Shavuot and Sukkot and ends with assorted laws of offerings.
In this week's Torah portion Moshe asks the Almighty, "Show me now Your glory." Moses wanted the Almighty to reveal to him Divine Providence -how the Almighty interacts with the world and why He does what He does. The Almighty responds, "... you will see My back, but My face may not be seen"
The Almighty told Moses - and us, "You can only understand My divine plan in retrospect, however while events happen you will not be able to understand My plan." When we make Kiddush for Shabbat we mention not only that the Almighty created the world but that He took us out of Egypt. Taking the Jewish people out of Egypt demonstrates that the Almighty controls history and has a plan.
We see this idea demonstrated in the story of Joseph - the brothers come to Egypt, Joseph accuses them as spies, has them dine with him, keeps Shimon until they bring his brother Benjamin to Egypt and so forth until he reveals himself with the words, "I am Joseph..." At that point, everything that had happened to them became clear. Likewise, with the ultimate coming of Mashiach, the history of the Jewish people will clearly demonstrate the Almighty's plan.
CANDLE LIGHTING - April 14:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/shabbat/candlelighting.asp)
Guatemala 5:58 Hong Kong 6:24 Honolulu 6:32
J'Burg 5:35 London 7:05 Los Angeles 7:35
Melbourne 5:39 Mexico City 6:35 Miami 7:26
New York 7:16 Singapore 6:52 Toronto 7:41
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Having something to say is more important
than wanting to say something.
In Memory of