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Parshas Bechukosai 5774
Candle Lighting Time: 7:52 pm
May 16, 2014
Volume 10 Issue 27
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Dvar Torah

All Roads Lead To Heaven  


By Rabbi Avraham Weiss



                 Few past times can so invigorate a weary soul more than meandering through a dazzling garden or a lonely country trail. There is something about proximity to the rustic tranquility of the great outdoors that enables us to find calm and serenity.

                 I often think that one of the restorative properties of the outdoors stems from the great sense of purpose and belonging that coexists among the myriad species of flora. Every blade of grass, flower, and tree stands together in unison, seemingly singing of the perfection and symmetry of its Creator.

We human beings can incorporate some of this perfection in our own lives. At so many different points of the day, we have the opportunity to touch the divine. In our praying and studying Torah, though acts of loving kindness, Chessed and Tzedokah, there are innumerable opportunities to rise above our baser instincts and get in touch with our Neshomos in deeply meaningful ways. And yet, it seems that so much of our time is dedicated to the pursuit of basic survival, devoid of any G-dly intent. So many hours of our day are taken up with pursuit of livelihood and physical upkeep. At those moments of seemingly un- or less inspired pursuits, I think of dazzling flower gardens and lonely trails that always seem to shimmer with purposeful existence, beauty, and inspiration. Is it possible to capture some of that majesty in the physical pursuits of our everyday lives?

The Torah teaches us that we can, and that the beauty of Jewish life is that every moment of life inherently counts.

Other religious systems view the world as being comprised of two domains, one sacred and one profane. In this world view, one lives a crass physical life and hopefully "meets up" with the divine or sacred at points along the way. Not so in Judaism.

In the Jewish viewpoint, every physical act is inherently neutral with the capacity to be vested with Holiness. The simple acts of eating, sleeping, and going to work in the morning can be just that, empty pockets of time that add neither luster nor shine to a person's character. When, however, vested with a single consecrating thought these physical acts become laden with meaning. They are now part of the individual's divine service, and the person receives reward for it.

Case in point: The act of making a Brochoon one's food is a declarative statement that one recognizes Hashem as the source of bounty and that he or she submits to Hashem's ultimate authority. That simple act of eating has now become a vibrant component of that person's spiritual growth. Similarly, when confronted at one's workplace with the opportunity to gain unscrupulously, the individual who holds back because he believes Hashem is watching his every move, that, too, is a divine experience that brings him closer to G-d.

Hence, the beauty of a Jewish life is that no moment is ever stagnant. Even our physical engagements and acts are tools in one's dedicated Avodas Hashem, and ultimately, even our physical occupations can accompany us to Olam Haba (the World to Come) as the means through which we acquire the divine.  


Dvar Halacha

 Halachos of Sefiras Haomer      Part 2



By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi



One may count the entire night (Shulchan Aruch 489:1).  The mitzvah begins at night since it is the first opportunity to count [in the Hebrew calendar, each new day begins at night time].  The reason why the best time to count is at night [and according to some, one may only count at night], and not the next morning is since the Posuk says "You should count sheva shabbasos temimos (seven complete weeks)", the earlier one counts in the day makes it more of a complete day (See Mishneh Berurah 489:2 & 4).  If one counted before night [shkiya (sunset)], it is too early (Be'ur Halachah 489:3 s.v. me'bod yom) and is as if he did not count that day.  Therefore, he must recount with a brachah later.  Additionally, if one accepts Shabbos early ["making early Shabbos"], it is too early to count.


If one counted after shkiyah but before tzaitz hakochavim (nightfall), since it is safek lailah (possibly night) he fulfills his obligation (Mishneh Berurah 489:14).  If one did, it is preferable to recount without a brachah after taitz hakochavim (Mishneh Berurah 489:15).  If one normally is stringent to wait for the later tzaitz hakochavim of Rabbeinu Tam to end Shabbos, should preferably wait for that time to count sefiras ha'omer (Koveitz Halachos 2:4).


One who forgot to count during the night, may count the next day until shkiyah, without a brachah (Shulchan Aruch 489:7). The next night he may continue with counting with the brachah (Mishneh Berurah 489:34).


Beginning half an hour before tzaitz hakochavim if one did not yet count, it is prohibited to begin to eat a seudah [i.e. wash on bread or eat more than a k'beitzah of pas haba b'kisnin] or to be involved in any melachah (work) that may cause one to forget to count (Rama 489:4 & Mishneh Berurah 489:23-24).  Similarly, one may not go to sleep (Koveitz Halachos 3:1).  It is important to note, that these restrictions only apply beginning half an hour before tzaitz hakochavim but not before shkiyah, even if one plans on counting earlier, since tzaitz hakochavim is the ideal time to begin counting (Koveitz Halachos 3:ftnt. 7).  If one appoints a shomer (guardian), he may partake in the above mentioned activities.  However, only a human being qualifies to be a shomer as opposed to an alarm clock (Koveitz Halachos 3:3).  A person who normally davens with a minyan after tzaitz hakochavim, is not required to refrain from the above, since he will count later in shul (Koveitz Halachos 3:4 & ftnt. 10).  If someone accepts Shabbos early, if one started eating the Shabbos seudah before half an hour before tzaitz hakochavim one can finish the meal and then count.  However, if it is within half an hour, one may not start the seudah until he counts (Koveitz Halachos 3:5).


One should ideally recite the brachah and count himself (Shulchan Aruch 489:1).  If one is unable to [either because he is physically unable or is not halachically supposed to], he should hear the brachah from someone else [with the intention to fulfill the mitzvah] and then count himself (Shaar Hatziyon 489:5).


As with all brachos being recited, it is preferable at the time of reciting the brachah to know which day it is.  If one did not, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation (Mishneh Berurah 489:29).





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