This week at Azamra
13 Nisan 5779 / 18 April 2019

Torah Calendar

9-30 Nissan 5779
14 April-5 May '19

For this week's study schedule & classes, CLICK HERE

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).

Sunday 14 April / 9 Nissan

We are now in the final count-down to Pesach, which begins on Friday night April 19. As we work to clean out the chametz (leavened bread etc.) from our homes and make our other preparations for the festival, let us remember to cleanse ourselves inwardly and offer our personal prayers from the heart for all we need, spiritually and materially, personally and collectively.

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.

Monday 15 April / 10 Nissan

Today is the anniversary of (1) The taking of the paschal lamb by the Children of Israel in Egypt without the Egyptians daring to attack them even though the lamb was their god; (2) Death of Miriam in the 40th year of wandering in the Wilderness; (3) Miracle of the splitting of the River Jordan when the Israelites entered the Land under Joshua; (4) Birthday of of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on April 5, 1902.

Please spare a thought for the many who cannot afford Matzot and other Pesach needs. In this period it is customary to give Kimcha d'Pischa -- special charity to the poor to cover their "flour" (kimcha) and other Pesach needs.

Monday night-Tuesday 15-16 April / 11 Nissan

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman of Girona, known as Ramban, or Nachmanides (1194-1270) , outstanding Biblical and Talmudic commentator and one of the key links in the kabbalistic chain of tradition. Today is also the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (1565-1630), known as the Sh'LaH Hakadosh after the acronym of the title of his major work, Shney Luchot HaBrit ("Two Tablets of the Covenant'), one of the first works introducing the kabbalistic teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the "ARI", to Europe.

Wednesday night-Thursday 17-18 April / 13 Nissan

Today is the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Joseph Karo, the Beit Yoseph (1488-1575) author the mandatory Torah law code Shulchan Aruch.

Thursday night 18 April / Eve of 14 Nissan
Bedikat Chametz, the "Search for Leaven "

Directly after the evening prayers it is customary to perform the search for chametz (leavened bread, crumbs and other flour products) by the light of a candle in our homes and any other premises we occupy. For detailed guidance on how to perform the search, click here.

Sale of Chametz: Those who would suffer significant financial loss by having to destroy substantial quantities of Chametz may take advantage of the rabbinic ordinance of Mechirat Chametz -- selling of the Chametz to a gentile with the proviso that if he fails to pay by a specified date, the Chametz will return to the ownership of the Jew after Pesach. The sale of Chametz should be arranged by Thursday night and may be performed on your behalf by your local rabbi.

Friday 19 April 14 Nissan
Eve of Pesach
Fast of the Firstborn

The Fast of the Firstborn commemorating the redemption of the Israelite firstborn from death with the firstborn of the Egyptians is observed today by firstborn males. In many synagogues it is customary to complete the study of a Talmudic Masechta (tractate) and celebrate the siyyum with a festive meal, giving the firstborn the opportunity to waive their fast in order to participate in this mitzvah-feast.
Biur Chametz, the "Destruction of Leaven": Consumption of Chametz for breakfast etc. is permitted only in the earlier part of Friday morning. Consult your local rabbi for the time limit in your area. All remaining Chametz must be burned by mid-morning Friday. For detailed guidance on Biur Chametz, click here.
The Pesach Lamb sacrifices were offered in the Holy Temple on the afternoon of 14 Nissan, and many have the custom of reciting Torah passages relating to this offering following today's afternoon Minchah service.
The Pesach Seder Table should be set on Friday afternoon before nightfall so that the Seder celebration may begin promptly after the conclusion of the Friday evening Yom Tov service.

Friday night 19 April / 15 Nissan
First night of Pesach: The Pesach Seder

For a complete guide to the Pesach Seder on this most important night in the Torah calendar, click here.

Saturday 20 April / 15 Nissan
Festival of Pesach First day

After the morning festival Shacharit service, full Hallel (Psalms 113-118) is recited, followed by the reading of Shir HaShirim, "Song of Songs", prior to the synagogue Torah reading of Exodus 12:21-51 and Numbers 28:16-25. The additional Musaf service is then recited corresponding to the additional Temple Shabbat and Festival sacrifices.

Saturday night 20 April / 16 Nissan
Second Seder night (Diaspora)
First night of the Omer count (Israel & Diaspora)

In the Diaspora, after the Saturday night evening service, the second Seder Night is celebrated. In Israel at the end of the evening prayer service, and in the Diaspora after the main part of tonight's Seder, we commence the Counting of the Omer in which we will count 49 days until the Festival of Shavuos, time of the Giving of the Torah, which was the main purpose of the Exodus from Egypt.

Today is the Yahrzeit of Levi son of Jacob.

Saturday night-Sunday 21-22 April / 16 Nissan
Second day of Pesach

In Israel today is the first of the intermediate days of the festival (Chol HaMo'ed), when essential labors are permitted. In the Diaspora today is Yom Tov: the full festival prayers are recited, and only essential labors involved in the preparation of food may be performed.

Monday-Thursday 22-25 April / 17-20 Nissan
Chol HaMo'ed -- Intermediate days of Pesach

The prayer Ya'aleh VeYavo is introduced in Birkhat HaMazon (Grace after Meals) and in the evening, morning and afternoon prayers. "Half" Hallel is recited after the morning Shacharit prayer, followed by Torah reading and the Mussaf service corresponding to the additional Temple festival offerings.

Thursday 25 April / 20 Nissan
Eve of Shevi'i she Pesach (7th day of Passover)

Eiruv Tavshilin: Since the Yom Tov of the Seventh day of Pesach (Thursday night-Friday 25-26 April) is followed immediately by Shabbat, in order to be allowed to cook on Yom Tov on Friday for the coming Shabbat, it is necessary to prepare Eiruv Tavshilin -- two baked/cooked portions -- on Thursday afternoon prior to the commencement of Yom Tov. This applies both in Israel and the Diaspora. For further information on the mitzva of Eiruv Tavshilin click here.

Thursday night-Friday 25-26 April / 21 Nissan
Seventh night of Pesach

The seventh day of Pesach is a Yom Tov commemorating the miraculous Crossing of the Red Sea and looking forward to the Final Redemption soon in our times. Some stay up late into the night recalling the crossing of the sea.

Friday 26 April / 21 Nissan
Seventh day of Pesach

After the festival morning Shacharit prayer and "half" Hallel, the account of the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 13:17-15:26) is read from the Torah followed by Numbers 28:19-25. The Haftara is David's Song (II Samuel chapter 22), followed by the Mussaf prayer corresponding to the additional Pesach festival Temple sacrifices.

Declaration after tithing: Vidui Ma'asrot In accordance with the Torah commandment in Deuteronomy 26:12-15, on the last day of the Pesach festival of the fourth and seventh years of the Sabbatical Shemittah cycle, it was the custom in Temple times for those who had fully observed the commandments relating to the various tithes of produce to go up to the Temple and joyously make a declaration to that effect, praying for God's blessings. Since this is the fourth year of the Sabbatical cycle, some gather on this seventh day of Pesach where possible at the Kotel in Jerusalem or else in their local synagogue in order to commemorate that custom and to pray that we should speedily be able to perform all the Torah commandments relating to the produce of the land.

Feast of Mashiach
In most years Chassidim in Israel celebrate Seudat shel Mashiach, the Feast of Mashiach, after the afternoon Minchah service on the 7th day of Pesach. This year, however, since the 7th day of Pesach is on the eve of Shabbat, many defer the feast until tomorrow, when those in the Diaspora hold the celebration.

Friday night-Saturday 26-27 April / 22 Nissan
Israel: Issru Chag / Shabbat Parshat ACHAREY MOT

In Israel this Shabbat is Issru Chag, the day after the conclusion of the festival, when we let the Pesach joy linger with us and strengthen us before we return to our regular lives.
In Israel, the normal Shabbat services are recited. The Torah reading is Parshas ACHAREY MOT describing the induction of Aaron and his sons into the priesthood and giving the laws of kosher and unkosher species of animals, birds and fish etc.

Friday night-Saturday 26-27 April / 22 Nissan
Diaspora: Eighth day of Pesach

In the Diaspora the Pesach festival continues today with the Yom Tov of the Eighth Day of Pesach. In the Synagogue the festival morning prayers are recited together with "half" Hallel. The Torah reading is Deut 15:19-16:17 and Numbers 28:19-25 and the Haftara is Isaiah 10:32-12:6, followed by the festival Mussaf prayer corresponding to the additional Shabbat and festival Temple offerings.

Seudah shel Mashiach
After the afternoon Minchah prayer, Chassidim both in Israel and in the Diaspora have the custom of holding the Feast of Mashiach instituted by the Baal Shem Tov, accompanied by the drinking of Four Cups of wine parallel to the four cups of the Seder night. The Breslover Chassidim recount the story of the Baal Shem Tov's attempted journey to Israel and the accompanying miracles in Istanbul and his delivery from shipwreck and kidnap.

Saturday night-Sunday 27-28 April / 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 3 May / 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 3-4 May / 29 Nissan
Torah reading: Israel: KEDOSHIM; Diaspora: ACHAREY MOT
Shabbat Mevarchim & Eve of Rosh Chodesh

On this and the coming Shabbatot until May 25, 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 SHEMINI 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 May 25, when the Diaspora communities will catch up with Israel by reading the double portion of BEHAR and BECHUKOTAI, whereas the Israeli communities will have read BEHAR the previous Shabbat and on May 12 will read only BECHUOTAI.

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 Sunday May 4 at 2:10 p.m. Rosh Chodesh is on Saturday night, Sunday and Monday 4-6 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 4-5 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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