"There is Something Going on, Mr. Jones"
By Tzvi Fishman
4/28/2008, 12:00 AM
Tzvi FishmanBefore making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter....
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Because of the holiday break, we missed a few things, so today, let’s take a look at Sefirat HaOmer. We are already in the second week of our counting. Like all of the other commandments, Sefirat HaOmer is loaded with Kabbalistic significance. Without the Kabbalah, we would not know what we were doing when we put on tefillin, wave the lulav, or blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah. Yes, there are simple explanations, but someone who only familiarizes himself with pashat, or simple understandings, resembles a swimmer who is afraid to put on a mask and stick his face in the water. If you tell him there is a whole beautiful, marine world below the surface, teeming with all forms of life, he won’t believe you because he has never experienced this deeper, inner world for himself.
To see it, you have to open your eyes.
When it comes to Sefirat HaOmer, look in your prayer books. At least in the major league prayer books in Israel, you will see adjacent to each day of the counting, two mystical words like Hesed of Hesed, Tiferet of Gevorah, or Hod of Tiferet. These words are from the Kabbalistic world of the Sefirot. Each day of the counting, we are called upon to rectify another sefirah, or channel of spiritual blessing. This is an integral part of the process of inner purification that we are to undergo as we approach the holiday of Shavuot. We are not only to mention the day, but also to undertake the detailed, laborious toil of perfecting our character traits and the channels of celestial blessing that are directly parallel to them, just as a marionette puppet is connected to the hand above, or just like the keys of a piano are connected to the chords inside the piano’s lid.
Our words and actions strike Heavenly chords above.
Each time a key is hit, a different sound is produced. So too, each time we improve a character trait, a channel of blessing is cleansed in the spiritual worlds above, releasing a flow of blessing to our world below. If this inner process is just some Kabbalistic mumbo jumbo that doesn’t exist, as some unfortunate souls have the arrogance to claim, then why is it written in every prayer book, at least in Israel, the following recitation:
“May it be Thy will before You, our L-rd, our G-d, G-d of our Forefathers, that in the merit of Sefirat HaOmer which I counted today, that all the damage I have done to the sefirah of (such and such day) will be rectified, and I will be purified and sanctified by the holiness of the upper world, and through this, a great flow of blessing will go forth to all of the spiritual and physical worlds, and will rectify our physical and emotional drives, our intellectual spirits, and our Divine souls from all of their pollutions and blemishes, and leave us sanctified with Your exalted holiness, Amen, Sela.”
Obviously, as the recent Pulitzer Prize recipient, Bob Dylan, used to sing: “Something is going on Mr. Jones, and you don’t know what it is.”
While we are on this subject, we should mention that the great Torah scholar, halachic authority, revered Kabbalist, eyes of the generation, former Chief Rabbi, HaRav Mordechai Eliahu, shlita, is recovering from a heart attack and subsequent six-hour surgery this past Shabbat night. Today, hundreds, including leading Rabbis and Kabbalists, gathered at the tomb of the holy Kabbalist, the Chida, in Jerusalem, to pray for mercy and a speedy healing for the eighty-year-old Torah Sage, HaRav Mordechai Tzemach ben Mazal Tov. In the merit of our holy Forefathers and the Sages and Tzaddikim of all generations, may all of our prayers be answered, that he and all of the sick people of Israel be granted a complete and speedy recovery. Amen.
Prayers at the tomb of the Chida
Tomb of the Chida
Sefardi Chief Rabbi Amar