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23-29 Nissan 5776
1-7 May 2016

Attributes of the month of Nissan: Ruling permutation of the letters of HAVAYAH is the first in the order of permutations: YOD KEH VAV KEH, contained in the initial Hebrew letters of Yismechu Hashamayim Vetagel Ha'aretz -- "Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult" (Psalms 96:11). The month's corresponding letter is: HEH; Human attribute: SPEECH; Body Part: RIGHT FOOT; Tribe: JUDAH; Constellation: RAM (Aries).

The first ten days of Nissan correspond to the letter Yod of the holy name A-D-N-Y "our Lord" the four days of checking the Paschal lamb from 11-14 Nissan correspond to the Dalet; the fifty days from the first day of Pesach to the eve of Shavuot correspond to the Nun, and Shavuot itself corresponds to the Aleph, signifying our complete acceptance of the kingship of G-d through our service in this period.

Saturday night-Sunday 30 April-1 May / 23 Nissan
Diaspora: Issru Chag

In the Diaspora, today is celebrated as Issru Chag (Psalms 118:27, "bind the festival offering"), the day after the festival, when we still wear festive clothing and eat a festive meal to allow the Pesach joy to linger with and strengthen us as we return to our weekday lives.

Friday 6 May April / 28 Nissan
Today is the anniversary of the collapse of the walls of Jericho in the time of Joshua marking the beginning of the conquest of the Land of Israel. It is good to devote special attention to the thrice-daily repeated Aleinu prayer, which was composed by Joshua after that miracle in the form of a backwards acrostic on his name. The recital of Alenu is a segulah (propitious remedy) against all troubles.

Shabbat Friday night-Saturday 6-7 May / 29 Nissan
Torah reading: Israel: KEDOSHIM; Diaspora: ACHAREI MOT
Shabbat Mevarchim & Eve of Rosh Chodesh
On this and the coming Shabbatot until August 6, the Torah reading in Diaspora communities is different from the Torah reading in Israel. This is because last Shabbat in the Diaspora was the Eighth day of Pesach, which is not observed in Israel. Thus last Shabbat in Israel the portion of ACHAREI MOT was read, while the Diaspora Torah reading was the special Pesach festival reading. The Shabbat Torah readings in Israel and Diaspora will be out of sync until Shabbat August 6, when the Diaspora communities will catch up with Israel by reading the double portion of MATOT and MAS'EI, whereas the Israeli communities will have read MATOT the previous Shabbat and on May 16 will read only MAS'EI.

After today's Shabbat morning Torah reading we bless the coming month of Iyar. The Molad (junction of the sun and the moon) is on Friday May 6 at 10:59 & 17 chalakim p.m. Rosh Chodesh is on Saturday night, Sunday and Monday 7-9 May.
Pirkey Avot: On each of the six Shabbatot from today until before the festival of Shavuot celebrating the giving of the Torah, it is customary to recite one of the six chapters of the Mishnaic tractate Pirkey Avot containing the ethical wisdom of the sages, because Derech Eretz ("the way of the earth", good manners) is the foundation of the Torah. Today we begin with Chapter One.

Saturday night-Sunday 7-8 May / 30 Nissan
Rosh Chodesh Iyar First Day
Add Ya'aleh Veyavo in evening, morning and afternoon prayers and in Grace after Meals. Following the morning Shacharit prayer, "half" Hallel and the additional Musaf prayer are recited. On Rosh Chodesh it is customary to eat a festive meal with bread.
Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Chaim Vital (1543-1620), leading student of Kabbalistic giant R. Yitzchak Luria ("ARI") and chief expositor of his system in the Tree of Life, Eight Gates etc.

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Azamra means "I will sing" (Psalms 146:2)

"And the way to sing the song of joy is by seeking the good in all people, especially in ourselves. Each good point is one more note in the song of life!"

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov