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49 days (seven weeks) counting of Omer between the second day of Passover and Shavuot

Shavuot and Three States of Consciousness

Shavuot (a.k.a. the Feast of Weeks, or “Pentecost”) is the only Jewish holiday that has no fixed day in a calendar – it is always the 50th day from the beginning of counting of the Omer—Sefirot HaOmer. What is so special about the number and what is its connection to Shavuot? Shavuot is not only the culmination of the counting of the sefirah, but it is a culmination of the process of maturation of our consciousness. On Shavuot, it is customary to read the Book of Ruth (Megilat Rut). The story begins with Lot and his daughters running away from Sodom and hiding in a mountain cave. Seeing the destruction of Sodom, the daughters of Lot suspected that God in his fury destroyed the whole of humanity and they were the only people [...]

Fractal Patterns in Time

In the current Torah portion Emor, we are instructed to abstain from work on Shabbat—every seventh day. Next week’s Torah portion, Behar, continues this theme and instructs us to abstain from agricultural work every Sabbatical year, Shmita. And the Torah doesn’t stop there. It instructs us to count seven Shmitas and then observe a Jubilee, Yovel. Do you notice a pattern? Every seven days, every seven years, every seven Shmitas… Furthermore, the Midrash states the world will exist for seven thousand years with the seventh millennium being a thousand years of the kingdom of Mashiach (Messiah)—yom shekuloy Shabbat—one long Shabbat. A second-century sage, Rabbi Huniah ben HaKanah, interprets this Midrash to mean that the world will last seven Cosmic Shmitas, i.e., 49 thousand years (which, according to a prominent 13th–14th c. kabbalist Rb. Isaac [...]

Forty Two Journeys to the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

These are the journeys of the children of Israel… (Numbers 33:1) When G-d brought the Jews out from Egypt, He brought them out with the mystery of the 42-letter name, just as He created heaven and earth… (Zohar Chadash) The forty-two "stations" from Egypt to the Promised Land are replayed in the life of every individual Jew, as his soul journeys from its descent to earth at birth to its return to its Source. (Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov) Torah portion Massei (Num. 33-35) recalls forty-two journeys of the Children of Israel in the Sinai desert after the Exodus from Egypt.  This is not the first time the concept of forty-two journeys appears in the Torah.  Commenting on the Biblical verse, “And God said, ‘Behold, I Will Cause to Rain Bread from Heaven for You,’” (Ex. 25:5) the Midrash [...]

Carpe Diem

As we have discussed in the previous blog, It’s the time, stupid, Pharaoh never got the message that it’s all about mastery of time.  To make sure Jews did get this message, God gave them the very first commandment – the commandment of keeping time, of marking new months: This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Ex. 12: 2) It is important to note that Jews were not only commanded to keep time, they were commanded to “make” time.  Indeed, in Biblical times, the new month was not calculated according to a calendar as it is done today.  It was proclaimed by a Bet Din (an ecclesiastic court) based on the testimony of two live witnesses who observed the [...]

Freedom in Space, Time and Spirituality

And the entire Mount Sinai smoked because the Lord had descended upon it in fire, and its smoke ascended like the smoke of the kiln… Exodus 19:18 The Holiday of Shavuot is thought to be a culmination of the Passover. Just as Shmini Atzeret is a culmination of the Holiday of Sukkot and comes after seven days of Sukkot, Shavuot is also called Atzeret and comes after the Holiday of Pesach, albeit separated from it by forty-nine days of Omer. On Shavuot we read a Torah portion from the Chapter 19 of the Book of Shemot (Exodus). We already discussed the verse 18, "Mount Sinai smoked," in the previous post, Mount Sinai smoked because the Lord had descended upon it. Here, I'd like to focus on the word "smoked" from a different perspective. [...]

Passover, Shabbat and the Principle of Least Action

There is hardly a Jewish holiday more widely celebrated than Passover (Pesach). Jews of all denominations, affiliations, and levels of religious observance—if any at all—gather at the Passover Seder to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt. What is often lost amid all of the beautiful rituals, not least among them the singing of Had Gadia and other Seder songs, is the deep meaning of this holiday, which is far more profound than a mere recollection of historical events, no matter how important they may be. What is, then, the deeper meaning of Pesach that transcends its historical significance? On the morrow of Shabbat One obscure and little-known (outside of the observant Jewish community) mitzvah may lead us to a deeper understanding of the meaning of Pesach – this is the commandment [...]