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During this observance I count the daily Omer nightly with reflections in our Zoom Shul and on my Facebook Page as part of my personal observance. YOU are welcome to join us for these nightly counts.
Let's examine this important biblical observance and related insights.
"Counting the Omer" is Torah Mitzvah 127: To count forty-nine days from the time of the cutting of the Omer (first sheaves of the barley harvest). There are various counts of the 613 mitzvot.
וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמָּחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹ֖מֶר הַתְּנוּפָ֑ה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּת֖וֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּהְיֶֽינָה׃
And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete:
עַ֣ד מִֽמָּחֳרַ֤ת הַשַּׁבָּת֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תִּסְפְּר֖וּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים י֑וֹם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֛ם מִנְחָ֥ה חֲדָשָׁ֖ה לַיהוָֽה׃
you must count until the day after the seventh week—fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to Adonai. -- Leviticus 23:15,16
How the Count Works:
From the second night of Pesach/Passover until the day before Shavuot Jewish Tradition instructs us to observe the mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer (counting of the Omer). HaTorah instructs us that during this time each year we are to count seven complete weeks, for a total of 49 days. This is the Counting of the Omer. There are various customs surrounding this practice. At the end of the seven-week period we celebrate Shavuot, a word meaning "weeks." For this reason Shavuot is often called the Festival of Weeks.
Sefirat HaOmer is an important mitzvah for all Jews. The count, which takes place each night as the new day begins (remember we follow a lunar calendar), is preceded by a blessing. There are various rules associated with the counting. For instance:If one fails to make the count before sunrise that day (remember the day begins at sundown) one is permitted to do the count during the day, only without the blessing. One then continues as normal the next night with the blessing and the count.
Most authorities agree that if one misses a complete day (i.e. they do not say the count for an entire day) they may continue the counting, however without the blessing until the next year. This is my understanding.
A minority opinion holds that if one misses a day's count one may not continue the count at all, even without the blessing for the remainder of that year.
For this reason, it is important to be sure and recite the correct count on the correct night for the entire period.
According to majority opinion, it is permitted to listen as a friend recites the blessing and then do the counting in all cases. HaShem is merciful.
Why do we count these days? We learn several reasons: Other than obedience to a direct command of G-d (Leviticus 23:15,16), the most important reason is that the count demonstrates our excitement as we look forward to receiving the Torah on Shavuot. As we count these days we do so with excitement and emunah, confident that once again HaShem will reveal His Torah to our people. As we do the count we are to be mindful that we are the same Israelites who left Egypt with Moshe and that we are, once again, making our way to Mount Sinai and receiving His Torah afresh. This elevated consciousness encourages us to purify ourselves both physically and spiritually for our upcoming encounter with King of all kings.
During this period we spiritually prepare and refine ourselves. Like the Israelites nearly 3,500 years ago, we have assimilated and embraced many of the immoral ways of the Egyptian (American etc) people among whom we live. Like the Israelites of Egypt, we now purge ourselves of all avodah zarah (foreign practices and influences). We remind ourselves that the Israelites who left Egypt failed to accomplish devekut, true attachment to G-d and that we are failing at the present time. As a result they died in the wilderness rather than being permitted to enter the Land of Promise. As we count the omer we determine not to be like them. Our growing kavanah or intention is to merit witnessing the coming of HaMashiach and the dawn of of the Olam Haba, the Messianic World to Come. May this be the intention of all of our people and may it be realized during this present season!
During the forty-nine days between Pesach and Shavuot we undergo a radical transformation of consciousness. Our forbearers witnessed the direct power and love of HaShem as no other generation has, and yet they created a golden calf and chose to return to slavery rather than place their emunah in HaShem. Likewise no generation since theirs has witnessed the power of HaShem so publicly displayed.
Rabbi Akiva's 12,000 pairs of talmidim
The Counting of the Omer is a joyous time of year biblically, so why are we so mournful? As stated above, partly this is as a reminder of our anscestor's failure in the face of so many glorious experiences to make proper teshuvah and our determination not to make the same mistakes. Because of this we are mentally more somber during this period. But there is another important reason as well. The Shulchan Aruch, section 493:1, explains that these mourning practices, including not to get married between Passover and Shavuot, during the Omer period (until Lag B'Omer) is because, during this time Rebbe Akiva's 24,000 talmidim (students) all perished. For this we are especially mournful and mindful of our own weaknesses and failures. These 24,000 talmidim were all Tannaim, each a great rabbinic sage in his own right and yet they failed to show proper honor to one another. Today this same spiritual cancer of lashon hara and of disrespecting fellow Jews based on movement, sect, conversion status and so on is destroying the collective Soul of people. Sadly some of those who are supposedly our greatest leaders are among the worst offenders! We read:It was said that Rabbi Akiva had 12,000 pairs of disciples from Gabbatha to Antipatris; and all of them died at the same time because they did not treat each other with respect. The world remained desolate until Rabbi Akiva came to our Masters in the South and taught the Torah to them. These were Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Yehuda, Rabbi Yose, Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Elazar ben Shammua; and it was they who revived the Torah at that time. A Tanna taught: "All of them died between Passover and Shavuot." Rabbi Hama ben Abba or, it might be said, Rabbi Hiyya ben Abin said: "All of them died a cruel death." What was it? Rabbi Nahman replied: "Croup." (Yevamot 62b)2
Let our mourning include teshuvah (course change) over the fact: that we are collectively following in the path of these sages, but not for the good! We must restore Ahavas Yisroel (love of fellow Jews) if we wish to avoid HaShem's judgements and merit His blessings.
The more things change the more they remain the same! Not only has HaShem now re-established half of the Jews to a small portion of our Homeland, it was done with literal modern miracles in the sight of the whole world! Further, we continue to see miracles on Israel's behalf every day! Despite this, a large segment of our people continue to exercise little if any emunah in His leadership. Instead we remain a woefully divided people looking to the Gentile nations for our security and to the politically correct media gurus for our beliefs. And worse still, we have divided ourselves into rival movements and sects. We even sometimes see Jews deny the "Jewisness" of our fellow Jews! Despite our many crimes against one another and against HaShem, we have the audacity to say we believe in HaShem and desire His Theocratic rule over us! "We say but we do not do!"
May this Sefirat HaOmer be the time we cast off our lack of unity and emunah! May all the Jews use this opportunity to arise to devekut, attachment to HaShem and to His people. May we all say: Amen!
May we all learn the lessons of Sefirat HaOmer. Then we will truly be a Light to Nations as described at Yeshayahu (Isaiah) chapter 49:7.This is what the Lord says—What Is An Omer?
the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel—
to him who was despised and abhorred by the nations,
to the servant of rulers:
“Kings will see you and stand up,
princes will see and bow down,
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
- Noun: omer:
- 1. an ancient Hebrew dry measure, the tenth part of an ephah. This would be about 3.64 liters or 3.8 U.S. quarts.
- 2. a sheaf of corn or omer of grain presented as an offering on the second day of Passover.
The period of 49 days between the second day of Pesach (Passover) and Shavu'ot (Pentecost).
Why Do We Keep Counting it?
With the annual count we are referencing the second definition with this practice. The annual counting reminds us of the exodus from Egypt and everything included in that event. This includes G-d's might, judgements and His causeless love for us, as well as our failures and missed opportunities. Both ours and those who came before us. By keeping this memory alive we acknowledge that it is not too late even now for our Redemption! The greater exodus from slavery is still ahead of us. The final Redemption of our people could happen during this season IF we seek HaShem and purify our consciousness (II Chronicles 7:14).
Its not too late.
There Are Four "Worlds:"
Our physical world consists of two components: One celestial, the other terrestrial. The "celestial" includes the stars and other planets of the physical heavens. The "terrestrial" is our physical earth. These two comprise physical reality, the existence we experience with our senses (including what we see through telescopes etc). In our pride we usually think our perception is the totality of existence, but in truth what we behold is but a minor realm within a limitless expanse of be-ing. In this the realization the 'wise' are often foolish while the so-called 'foolish', because of their emunah, are shown to be 'wise'. Due to their lack of emunah fools are blinded through their limited perceptions. Such people fail to see beyond the curtains of reality. This true of many religious people as well.
"Beyond" our finite realm is the world of the angels and other etheric entities. Their realm is much "larger" than ours by comparison, but it too is as nothing when compared with the totality of existence. Every culture throughout history has affirmed the existence of this etherial realm. Some people and cultures have mistakenly worshipped its denizens as divine beings. This limited sight has kept them bound to terrestrial reality. This realm can be and has been 'visited' by those of our realm. Indeed most people have tasted of its sweet waters at one time or another.
"Higher" or "deeper" and more expansive than the second and first worlds combined is the third. This is the 'world' our sages sometimes refer to as the Realm of the Higher Forces. This world is also known as the World of the Throne or Merkabah. A slight glimpse into this realm is found in the Chariot Throne referenced by Prophet Yechezkel (Ezekiel) in chapter one of the book bearing his name. There are mystical Jewish schools dedicated to the study of the Merkabah and yet these also lack the clarity of vision to see completely beyond these etheric 'curtains'.
Each of these "three worlds" are teaming with diverse complex life forms, 'entities' or souls. These souls are likened to sparks of the original Light, the Ohr Chodesh. We conceive of the Soul as consisting of five 'parts' or aspects. These are the Nefesh (the Foundational or Animal Soul), Ruach the Spirit), Neshamah (the Breath), Chayah (the Living Essence), and Yechidah (the Unique Essence). Individualized self aware existence is the Way of G-d's Creation. Each life form, each species, and each realm has its own nature of existence and its own degree of individuality as decreed by our Designer. Each exists as created by the Holy One and each fills its unique purpose according to the Will of the Creator.
Despite this amazing cosmic diversity, only one of these life forms is unique in terms of individuality and free will according to the understanding of our sages. That aware being is the human. Only humans were "created in the image of G-d" as described and affirmed in the Torah (Genesis 1:26-28). This image is not referring to physical characteristics. The Holy One has no such form. The "image of G-d" refers to our intellectual ability to choose our course through deductive reasoning: See now the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:22). Because we were created with dual impulses (or yetser) we are empowered by our Creator to choose between yetzer hatov and yetzer hara, between positive and the negative impulses. This dual nature grants us the power of free will.
With our free will we elevate or diminish our consciousness as we choose. We choose the path of light or we choose the way of darkness. Those who choose to utilize the tools offered during the Sefirat HaOmer are especially empowered to uncover the secrets of devekut, attachment to the Holy One, which is our collective destiny. As such people become increasingly attached to the Holy One their consciousness ascends upwards and they attain the awareness of Kether, the "highest" of the Saphirot.
With this attainment, it is explained that "Kether becomes Malkuth of the next order" and the Soul gradually ascends from one world to the next through the power of teshuvah and kavanah (i.e. soul correction and intention). All through the awesome power of emunah or active, complete faith in HaShem alone. Complete emunah is devekut because a person of complete emunah will be fully attached to HaShem. But, who has this level of emunah?
"Higher" of "deeper" still, transcending even the Realm of the Merkabah or Throne World of Conceptual Existence, is the transcendent realm that can only be called a "world" in the most general sense. The Fourth Realm transcends all description and yet its existence is certain and confirmed by deductive reason as well as Scripture. This realm encompasses realities we can only speak of in philosophical or allegorical terms. Its existence is so far beyond our finite comprehension as to be inconceivable. This is the Realm of Divine Influences. These emanations proceed from the Holy One (Blessed be He!) and fills all existence with Be-ing. From this Realm flows all transcendent revelations of emanations of the luminous fibers of the One Light from which all existence comes and to which all existence inevitably returns. Of this Supernal Realm the Torah reveals:"It has been clearly demonstrated to you that Sacred Name alone is G-d; there is none beside Him. From the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; on earth He let you see His great fire; and from amidst that fire you heard His words. And because He loved your fathers, He chose their heirs after them; He Himself, in His great might, led you out of Egypt, to drive from your path nations greater and more populous than you, to take you into their land and to assign it to you as a heritage, as is still the case. Know therefore this day and keep in mind that Sacred Name alone is G-d in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other (Deuteronomy 4:35-39).
See this? Other than the Holy One there is no existence! The Influences emanating from the Beloved can not be considered "entities" in the proper sense because nothing actually exists other than the Holy One! There are no gods, no demigods, no incarnations, and no mediators. There are no individual beings of any kind, there is no phenomena, etc. in that Most Sacred Realm.
There is only "That Which Is:" There is only Ain Soph.See now that it is I! I am the One ["ani echad"], and there is no god like Me! I cause death and grant life. I strike, but I heal, and no one can rescue from My Hand! -- Deuteronomy 32:39.
From within this Fourth World emanates a spectrum conceived as the Or chodosh or Sacred Light. This all inclusive Light emanates from the Holy One according to His Will due to His transcendent Love for all creatures. Through this 'spectrum' of Sacred Light the inconceivable Holy One (Ain Soph) becomes conceivable as the King of the Merkabah(the King seated upon His Throne) as described by Navi Ezekiel (chapter one). The Holy One bestows all existence upon all existence, both the particular and universal, to the creations of the lower worlds all according to their diverse natures as revealed. Not all realms are the same, not all the entities are the same. HaShem provides to each according it own nature and needs through the emanations of His Holy Light for the purpose of their Devekut (i.e. attachment to/with the Holy One) according to the their individual choosing or rejection of His Light.
As a spectrum, the Emanations are One and yet they can be categorized or conceptualized even as music is one and yet consists of diverse notes.
Related to this concept is the Ten Utterances perceived in the first chapter of Bereshit-Genesis wherein Elohim "said" "Let there be... and there was." The graphic to the right shows a tzaddik (a pious one) pondering Torah and realizing the Ten Emanations (3aphirot.) of his being through it. Note that he is pondering them through Torah as if the scroll were a prism. All truth is revealed through HaTorah.
The Emanations exist both as the microcosm and macrocosm of existence. They are therefore conceived as the "Palace," "House," or Body of Adam Kadmon (the original or primordial Man, not to be confused with Adam Rishon, the Adam of Gan Eden). Adam Kadmon is foundational human concept with its unique potential to reason as described above. Humanity is unique among the created beings. By actualizing the individual emanations or powers contained within the "Tree of Life" one is empowered to ascend ever higher as we attach ourselves (through devekut) ever more completely with the Holy One, Who Alone is Blessed throughout all of eternity.
Again, as one spiritually ascends or progresses along this sacred path, "Kether becomes Malkuth of the next order" and the process towards 'enlightenment' or at-one-ment with the Divine Light of the Or chodosh advances. One gradually becomes ever more 'attached' to the Holy Name Who alone is both our Source and our Destination as described at Tehillim/Psalms 82. This process is what is being referenced in the counting of the Omer. The Soul, deceived by material desires and poor choices, arises to the realization of its true nature as the Son or Daughter of the Most High as the personal unification of these emanations are merited and achieved. One need not be a Kabbalists to achieve this unification. Indeed in some ways that knowledge can be a distraction. As our great Chassidic Master Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches:No sophistication is needed in serving G-d - only simplicity, sincerity and faith.G-d is Echad: One. And again:
Simplicity is higher than all else. For G-d is certainly higher than everything else, and G-d is ultimately simple! -- Sichot Haran #101Even after all the wisdom and sophistication - even if you possess true wisdom - you must cast aside all wisdom and sophistication and serve G-d with complete innocence and simplicity, with no sophistication whatever.
The greatest wisdom of all is not to be wise at all. The truth is that no one in the world is wise, for "there is no wisdom and no understanding before G-d" (Proverbs 21:30 ). The main thing G-d wants is the heart -- Likutey Moharan II, 44.
For more on this topic see my study here.
For more information on Shavuot see my study here
WarningHaving presented this very basic level of mystical information in what I hope is an understandable fashion, I must also offer a serious warning:While there is a vast wealth of wisdom and potential in studying proper Torah mysticism, there are also serious potential dangers. Just as religions and diverse sects of "replacement theologies" have arisen seeking to replace the Jewish people, hoping to usurp the Jewish Covenant with HaShem, so too there are a LOT of counterfeit people and groups selling heavily redacted and altered forms of "Kabbalah." These groups and their pseudo kabbalahs need to be avoided at all cost let they contaminate one's Soul with avodah zarah (foreign ideologies)! We even find these heretical teachings among some of our own rabbis.
Real knowledge of these topics come with strict rules about teacher and student qualifications, applications of learned materials, and so on. Most of the websites claiming to teach "Kabbalah" and "Jewish mysticism" should not be trusted in my opinion. To study these ancient Jewish topics one needs to be Jewish; this information is not intended for the other nations. A Jewish mystical talmid needs to be well versed in Torah, Tanach, Mishna, Talmud, etc. and have firm emunah in HaShem alone. One also needs to be Torah Observant, Shomer Shabbat, and regularly engaged in hitbodedut (personal, secluded prayer and meditation with HaShem). Qualified students need to learn one on one, or in small groups, with an experienced master who is mature, knowledgeable in all these topics, qualified to teach, and who possesses the applicable traits and discretion, holding back what ought not be shared. Proper training in these areas is beyond the knowledge and ability of most Jews, even most rabbis. In my honest personal opinion, this negates anything you may find on the internet, other than basic descriptions such as I am sharing here, but my advise is to not seek these materials online if at all.
Please understand that this is not a field to be lightly dallying with. My personal suggestion is that you focus on the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and other expert Chassids. Rebbe Nachman in particular includes a lot of the core material in his teachings (and his stories especially) that present these truths in ways that are uplifting and beneficial to ones spiritual development.
Lag B'Omer connects Pesach (the exodus from slavery) to Shavu'ot (the freedom from slavery through the giving of Torah). Pesach is instituted at Leviticus 23:15:"And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: you must count until the day after the seventh week—fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the LORD."
There are several traditions surrounding the period including partial mourning. For this reason weddings, celebrations, parties etc. are forbidden, as are haircuts and unnecessary attention to normal grooming.
Lag B'omer is day 33 of the count. On this one day all of the restrictions are lifted. They resume the next day.
For more information on Lag B'Omer see my study HERE
Sefirat HaOmer ends on Shavuot.
Shavuot is also known as Pentecost (no connection to the Christian holiday of the same name), the Festival of Weeks, Hag HaBikkurim (the Festival of First Fruits), and Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Torah).
Shavuot is observed for two days, beginning with the conclusion of the 49 days or 7 full weeks. For information about Shavuot see my study HERE.
While the Counting of the Omer is only required of Jews, everyone can be benefit from the wisdom expressed in the daily counting and the encouragement to do soul searching as expressed through the application of the Emanations as described by our sages. Our minhag is that non-Jews are permitted to do the formal count along with us if tehy choose, but without the blessing. The reason for this restriction is that one should never speak falsely, especially before HaShem. The words of the blessing are specifically applicable to Jews only and not the other other nations:We bow before HaShem with these ancient words:לְשֵם יִחוּד קֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא וּשְׁכִינְתֵּיהּ בִּדְחִילוּ וּרְחִימוּ, וּרְחִימוּ וּדְחִילוּ, לְיַחֵד שֵׁם יוּ”ד הֵ”א בְּוָא”ו הֵ”א בְּיִחוּדָא שְׁלִים בְּשֵׁם כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל.
Behold, I am prepared and ready to perform the positive mitzvah of counting the Omer, as is written in your Torah: "You are to count from the end of the rest day (Pesach) when you brought the waived the Omer-offering. To the day after the seventh week, shall be seven complete weeks. Until the end of the seventh week you shall count fifty days."
וִיהִ֤י׀ נֹ֤עַם אֲדֹנָ֥י אֱלֹהֵ֗ינוּ עָ֫לֵ֥ינוּ וּמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָ֭דֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָ֥ה עָלֵ֑ינוּ וּֽמַעֲשֵׂ֥ה יָ֝דֵ֗ינוּ כּוֹנְנֵֽהוּ׃ תהילים צ:יז
May the pleasantness of the Lord our G-d be upon us. May G-d establish the work of our hands, our work, may G-d establish.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֺתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר׃
Blessed are you, HaShem our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us through His mitzvot and commanded us to count the omer.
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁיִּבָּנֶה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ וְתֵן חֶלְקֵנוּ בְּתוֹרָתֶךָ׃
May it be Your will, HaShem our G-d, G-d of our ancestors, that the Beit HaMikdash be rebuilt speedily in our days, and may You grant us a portion in Your Torah.
Each night we begin with the blessing, if applicable (see above for when not to recite the blessing):Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֺתָיו וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר׃
BA-RUCH A-TAH ADO-NAI E-LO-HE-NU ME-LECH HA-OLAM
ASHER KID-E-SHA-NU BE-MITZ-VO-TAV VETZI-VA-NU AL SEFI-RAT HA-OMER.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe,
Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.
Note the variation indicated by "ba-omer" or "la-omer" which refers to the two traditional texts in use for the Sefirat HaOmer. In one translation, “ba,” the preposition is “in” as in “in the count of the Omer.” In the other, “la,” the preposition has the meaning “of ” as in “of the Omer count.” In the translations below, I use the “of” form, corresponding to “la,” but in this technical matter of custom, (“ba” or “la”?), one should follow the tradition (minhag) of his or her community.
After the blessing, each day is counted. Then the perceived interactions of each day's emanation/quality as discussed above may be shared. I offer this nightly count live in our Zoom Shul and simulcast it to my Facebook Page each evening of the count. By focussing on these qualities the daily count leads us to self examination and soul correction.
The ten Sefirot and their various connections signify our human perceptions of the manifestations of the One Reality within the world, created through Ten Utterances. One way our sages seek to convey the inconceivable conception of the Holy One is as Holy Light (Ohr Chodosh). When considered in this way Ain Soph is conceived as manifesting the Divine Self as the Light of Creation into a darkened and concealed world. Were this Light perceived directly Its radiance would destroy us, as staring directly into the physical sun would blind us by analogy. As the Scripture says: And He said, "You will not be able to see My face, for man shall not see Me and live. And the Lord said: "Behold, there is a place with Me, and you shall stand on the rock (Exodus 33:20,21). The great Rashi clarified this:And He said, "You will not be able…: Even when I let all My goodness pass before you, I [still] do not grant you permission to see My face.
Behold, there is a place with Me: on the mountain, where I always speak to you. I have a place prepared for your benefit, where I will hide you so that you will not be hurt, and from there you shall see what you shall see. This is its simple meaning, but its midrashic meaning is that [G-d] is speaking of the place where the Shechinah is, and He says: "The place is with Me," but He does not say: "I am in the place," for the Holy One, blessed is He, is the place of the world [i.e., the world is within Him], but the world is not His place [i.e., the world does not encompass him] (Gen. Rabbah 68:9).
To protect us the Light is concealed and appears as prisms of Light or luminous fibers as I prefer to describe them. While each prism or strand is in reality the manifestation of the Single Light, each takes on unique characteristics due to its being diffused for our comprehension and protection. These prisms are emanations which we call Sephirot (plural,sefirah singular). These sephirot should be conceived of as metaphorical conceptions and not taken too literally.
In truth, Ain Soph, and hence HaShem, is utterly and indivisibly echad or One. It is only for the purpose of expanding our conception of the inconceivable that we speak of G-d as a "Unity" and declare that there is no unity like His Unity. Howso? All all other unity refers to more than a single thing as being joined or unified, while His Unity is utterly One (echad) and indivisible.
We have a clear indication that we are using a metaphor by the use of the number ten. Kabbalah, like the material universes themselves, may be thought of in mathematical terms. The number ten signifies a completion, as recognized by most ancient cultures and mystical systems. Single digits become doubled beginning with 10. With the ten fingers of our hands we are commanded to "do" HaTorah.
More specifically, when the Holy One determined to perform the act of creation it is said that He uttered Ten Hebrew Words. These Ten Utterances are indicative of the Ten Sephirot and suggest their creative power. It is in part for the revelation of this Deep Secret that the Holy One said "Let us" and so on.
The creation is not something once done and then abandoned as conceived by the Deists. Rather it is the constantly occurring action of calling forth from the Primal Reality by the Creator. We refer to this primal reality as Adam Kadmon, the first spiritual World that was spoken into being following the contraction of G'd's Infinite Light. Adam Kadmon must not be confused with Adam Ha-Rishon (the Adam of the Garden of Eden).
For those with understanding, we are part of this ten-fold process of creation. The ten Sephirot may be likened to a toolbox. HaShem has given us a 'tool chest' with which to assist in the ultimate goal of His creation and the unlocking of the Torah, which is also within our hands. In this, humanity is unique. The perfection of creation will be experienced once the Olam Haba or World to Come is fully established. Glimpses into this time beyond time can be experienced even now by those who are properly attached (devekut) to the Creator and observant of HaShabbat. The goal of all real Jewish mysticism is to empower the Souls, the children of the Most High, to achieve this state of consciousness and to assist in the final Redemption as the revelation of the Perfected Community. It is with this understanding that we unlock Tehilim 82:A tehilim of Asaph. G-d stands in the divine assembly; among the divine beings He pronounces judgment.
How long will you judge perversely, showing favor to the wicked? Selah.
Judge the wretched and the orphan, vindicate the lowly and the poor,
rescue the wretched and the needy; save them from the hand of the wicked.
They neither know nor understand, they go about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth totter.
I had taken you for divine beings, sons of the Most High, all of you;
but you shall die as men do, fall like any prince.
Arise, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are Your possession.
The following powers are stored, as it were, within the Divine 'toolbox' as Sacred Emanations of the One Light.
The Ten Sefirot
- Keter – crown: Rational
- Chochmah - wisdom: Rational, mental infusion
- Binah - understanding (rational)
(Da'at -- knowing)
- Chessed - kindness: (active)
- Gevura - strength: (active)
- Tiferet - beauty (active)
- Netzach - victory (preparation)
- Hod - awe (preparation)
- Yesod - foundation (preparation)
- Malchut - monarchy/soverignty
During the annual counting of the omer we focus on the lower seven Sefirot, beginning with Chessed, and their various attributes. Each day of the count we seek to develop and harmonize these seven attributes within our own consciousness. Some say we seek to harmonize these with the seven levels of the soul (using a different format than those who spreak of five levels as discussed above); its mainly semanitics. Each of these signify an inanate part of our divine heretage as the Children of the Most High. We are after all the princes and princessess of the High King. His Will is that we master these qualities in His service for the well being of all existence: These Seven Emanations impact all areas of our existence. For instance:
The Seven Emotional Attributes
- Chesed - Loving-Kindness
- Gevurah -- Justice and Discipline
- Tiferet - Harmony, Beauty, Compassion
- Netzach - Endurance, Eternity
- Hod - Humility and Splendour
- Yesod - Bonding, bringing to Fruition
- Malchut - Sovereignty, Leadership
Above Chessed is Da'at, Binah, Chochmah and Keter, known as the 'Upper Triade' (excluding Da'at which has certain unique properties). These attributes are referenced in my daily guide to the Omer Count and elsewhere.
Think of a human being who is a righteous judge. Wrong-doers stand before him in fear while the innocent look to him hopefully as their protector. To his wife he is husband, soul mate, trusted confidant, lover, and someone who keeps forgetting to take the trash can out to curb on Mondays. To his children he is dad, baseball partner, joke teller, religious instuctor, allowance provider, he-who-must-be-answered-to for a bad report card or deed. To his friends he is a buddy, and so on. He is but one man, however he is viewed in completely different ways depending on which role he fulfilling and to whom he is addressing. In the same way we interact with the Holy One in many different ways but He is One.
The Sephirot can be thought of in this way as well. Each one represents a different aspect or role of the total, which is Ain Soph. These are therefore sparks of G-d's Light. They can purify and heal us! There exist within the seven sephirot inumerable applications to every aspect of existence. It is said that we "climb this tree" upward from Malchut to Chesed over and over again until we unlock the knowing of Da'at. Belief is not the same thing as knowing. The child believes the parent's warning that the stove is hot and yet may eventually touch it despite that belief. Once the child is burned he knows what 'hot' really means and he avoids the experience in the future. Or the child may taste the amazing sweetness of a cake and desire to return to experience that joy again and again. "Taste and See that HaShem is Good!" (Psalm 34:8). Da'at is 'knowing'.
Once a degree of 'knowing' is achieved one continues into the uper triad. Blessed is one who attains to Keter, wherein 'Keter becomes Malchut of the next order' and the soul continues its endless journey of devekut, attachment to and with the Beloved. Following is the Daily Omer overview. For the specific daily contemplations See Here.
1 Ha-yom yom e-chad ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is one day of the Omer
2 Ha-yom sh’nay yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is two days of the Omer
3 Ha-yom sh’losha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is three days of the Omer
4 Ha-yom arba-a yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is four days of the Omer
5 Ha-yom chami-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is five days of the Omer
6 Ha-yom shi-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is six days of the Omer
7 Ha-yom shiv-a yamim, shehaym
shavu-a e-chad ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is seven days,
which are one week of the Omer
8 Ha-yom sh’mona yamim, shehaym
shavu-a e-chad v’yom e-chad ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is eight days, which are
one week and one day of the Omer
9 Ha-yom tish-a yamim, shehaym
shavu-a e-chad ushnay yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is nine days, which are
one week and two days of the Omer
10 Ha-yom asara yamim, shehaym
shavu-a echad ushlosha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is ten days, which are
one week and three days of the Omer
11 Ha-yom achad asar yom, shehaym
shavu-a echad v’arba-a yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is eleven days, which are
one week and four days of the Omer
12 Ha-yom sh’naym asar yom, shehaym
shavu-a echad vachami-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twelve days, which are
one week and five days of the Omer
13 Ha-yom sh’losha asar yom, shehaym
shavu-a echad v’shisha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirteen days, which are
one week and six days of the Omer
14 Ha-yom arba-a asar yom, shehaym
sh’nay shavuot ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is fourteen days, which are
two weeks of the Omer
15 Ha-yom chami-sha asar yom, shehaym
sh’nay shavuot v’yom echad ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is fifteen days, which are
two weeks and one day of the Omer
16 Ha-yom shi-sha asar yom, shehaym
sh’nay shavuot ushnay yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is sixteen days, which are
two weeks and two days of the Omer
17 Ha-yom shiva asar yom, shehaym18 Ha-yom shemonah asar yom, shehaym
sh’nay shavuot ushlosha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is seventeen days, which are
two weeks and three days of the Omer
sh’nay shavuot v’arba-a yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is eighteen days, which are
two weeks and four days of the Omer
19 Ha-yom tisha asar yom, shehaym
sh’nay shavuot va’chamisha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is nineteen days, which are
two weeks and five days of the Omer
20 Ha-yom esrim yom, shehaym
sh’nay shavuot v’shi-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty days, which are
two weeks and six days of the Omer
21 Hayom e-chad v’esrim yom, shehaym
shlosha shavuot ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-one days, which are
three weeks of the Omer
22 Ha-yom sh’nayim v’esrim yom, shehaym
shelosha shavuot v’yom echad ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-two days, which are
three weeks and one day of the Omer
23 Ha-yom sh’losha v’esrim yom, shehaym
shelosha shavuot ushnay yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-three days, which are
three week and two days of the Omer
24 Ha-yom arba-a v’esrim yom, shehaym
shelosha shavuot u’shelosha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-four days, which are
three weeks and three days of the Omer
25 Ha-yom chami-sha v’esrim yom, shehaym
shelosha shavuot v’arba-a yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-five days, which are
three weeks and four days of the Omer
26 Ha-yom shi-sha v’esrim yom, shehaym
shelosha shavuot va-chamisha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-six days, which are
three weeks and five days of the Omer
27 Ha-yom shiva v’esrim yom, shehaym
shelosha shavuot v’shi-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-seven days, which are
three weeks and six days of the Omer
28 Ha-yom shemonah v’esrim yom, shehaym
arba-a shavuot ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-eight days, which are
four weeks of the Omer
29 Ha-yom tisha v’esrim yom, shehaym
arba-a shavuot v’yom e-chad ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is twenty-nine days, which are
four weeks and one day of the Omer
30 Ha-yom shloshim yom, shehaym
arba-a shavuot ushnay yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty days, which are
four weeks and two days of the Omer
31 Hayom e-chad u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
arba-a shavuot u’shelosha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty-one days, which are
four weeks and three days of the Omer
32 Ha-yom sh’nayim u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
arba-a shavuot v’arba-a yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty-two days, which are
four weeks and four days of the Omer
33 Ha-yom sh’losha u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
arba-a shavuot vachamisha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
*** Lag Ba’Omer ***
Today is thirty-three days, which are
four weeks and five days of the Omer
34 Ha-yom arba-a u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
arba-a shavuot v’shi-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty-four days, which are
four weeks and six days of the Omer
35 Ha-yom chami-sha u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
chami-sha shavuot ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty-five days, which are
five weeks of the Omer
36 Ha-yom shi-sha u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
chami-sha shavuot v’yom echad ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty-six days, which are
five weeks and one day of the Omer
37 Ha-yom shiva u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
chami-sha shavuot ushnay yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty-seven days, which are
five weeks and two days of the Omer
38 Ha-yom shemonah u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
chami-sha shavuot u’shelosha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty-eight days, which are
five weeks and three days of the Omer
39 Ha-yom tisha u’sheloshim yom, shehaym
chami-sha shavuot va’arba-a yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is thirty-nine days, which are
five weeks and four days of the Omer
40 Ha-yom arba-im yom, shehaym
chami-sha shavuot va’chamisha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty days, which are
five weeks and five days of the Omer
41 Hayom e-chad v’arbaim yom, shehaym
chami-sha shavuot v’shi-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-one days, which are
five weeks and six days of the Omer
42 Ha-yom sh’nayim v’arbaim yom, shehaym
shi-sha shavuot ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-two days, which are
six weeks of the Omer
43 Ha-yom sh’losha v’arbaim yom, shehaym
shi-sha shavuot v’yom e-chad ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-three days, which are
six weeks and one day of the Omer
44 Ha-yom arba-a v’arbaim yom, shehaym
shi-sha shavuot ushnay yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-four days, which are
six weeks and two days of the Omer
45 Ha-yom chami-sha v’arbaim yom, shehaym
shi-sha shavuot u’shelosha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-five days, which are
six weeks and three days of the Omer
46 Ha-yom shi-sha v’arbaim yom, shehaym
shi-sha shavuot v’arba-a yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-six days, which are
six weeks and four days of the Omer
47 Ha-yom shiva v’arbaim yom, shehaym
shi-sha shavuot va’chami-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-seven days, which are
six weeks and five days of the Omer
48 Ha-yom shemonah v’arbaim yom, shehaym
shi-sha shavuot v’shi-sha yamim ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-eight days, which are
six weeks and six days of the Omer
49 Ha-yom tisha v’arbaim yom, shehaym
shiv-a shavuot ba-omer (or la-omer)
Today is forty-nine days, which are
seven weeks of the Omer
Day One: Chesed of chesed
1st Day of the Omer
Day Two: Gevurah of Chesed
2nd Day of the Omer
Day Three: Tiferet of Chesed
3rd Day of the Omer
Day Four: Netzach of Chesed
4th Day of the Omer
Day Five: Hod of Chesed
5th Day of the Omer
Day Six: Yesod of Chesed
6th Day of the Omer
Day Seven: Malchut of Chesed
7th Day of the Omer
Day One of Week 2: Chesed of Gevurah
8th Day of the Omer
Day Two of Week 2: Gevurah of Gevurah
9th Day of the Omer
Day Three of Week 2: Tiferet of Gevurah
10th Day of the Omer
Day Four of Week 2: Netzach of Gevurah
11th Day of the Omer
Day Five of Week 2: Hod of Gevurah
12th Day of the Omer
Day Six of Week 2: Yesod of Gevurah
13th Day of the Omer
Day Seven of Week 2: Malchut of Gevurah
14th Day of the Omer
Day One of Week 3: Chesed of Tiferet
15th Day of the Omer
Day Two of Week 3: Gevurah of Tiferet
16th Day of the Omer
Day Three of Week 3: Tiferet of Tiferet
17th Day of the Omer
Day Four of Week 3: Netzach of Tiferet
18th Day of the Omer
Day Five of Week 3: Hod of Tiferet
19th Day of the Omer
Day Six of Week 3: Yesod of Tiferet
20th Day of the Omer
Day Seven of Week 3: Malchut of Tiferet
21st Day of the Omer
Day One of Week 4: Chesed of Netzach
22nd Day of the Omer
Day Two of Week 4: Gevurah of Netzach
23rd Day of the Omer
Day Three of Week 4: Tiferet of Netzach
24th Day of the Omer
Day Four of Week 4: Netzach of Netzach
25th Day of the Omer
Day Five of Week 4: Hod of Netzach
26th Day of the Omer
Day Six of Week 4: Yesod of Netzach
27th Day of the Omer
Day Seven of Week 4: Malchus of Netzach
28th Day of the Omer
Day One of Week 5: Chesed of Hod
29th Day of the Omer
Day Two of Week 5: Gevurah of Hod
30th Day of the Omer
Day Three of Week 5: Tiferet of Hod
31st Day of the Omer
Day Four of Week 5: Netzach of Hod
32nd Day of the Omer
Day Five of Week 5: Hod of HodLag BaOmer- 33rd Day of the Omer
Day Six of Week 5: Yesod of Hod
34th Day of the Omer
Day Seven of Week 5: Malchut of Hod
35th Day of the Omer
Day One of Week 6: Chesed of Yesod
36th Day of the Omer
Day Two of Week 6: Gevurah of Yesod
37th Day of the Omer
Day Three of Week 6: Tiferet of Yesod
38th Day of the Omer
Day Four of Week 6: Netzach of Yesod
39th Day of the Omer
Day Five of Week 6: Hod of Yesod
40th Day of the Omer
Day Six of Week 6: Yesod of Yesod
41st Day of the Omer
Day Seven of Week 6: Malchut of Yesod
42nd Day of the Omer
Day One of Week 7: Chesed of Malchut
43rd Day of the Omer
Day Two of Week 7: Gevurah of Malchut
44th Day of the Omer
Day Three of Week 7: Tiferet of Malchut
45th Day of the Omer
Day Four of Week 7: Netzach of Malchut
46th Day of the Omer
Day Five of Week 7: Hod of Malchut
47th Day of the Omer
Day Six of Week 7: Yesod of Malchut
48th Day of the Omer
Day Seven of Week 7: Malchut of Malchut
49th Day of the Omer
Sources considered: Breslov.org, Azamra.org, Orthodox Union, Chabad. Aish.com, MyJewishLearning.com
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