During the Omer, we pray "for the sake of the unification of God." But isn't God already One? Rabbi Lizzi drops some drash.
Today's episode is sponsored by Broadway In Chicago. Tickets are available now to Fiddler on the Roof at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, from May 17th - 22nd. Use Mishkan's special offer code ROOF45 for $45 Middle Balcony tickets.
This message was originally delivered at the virtual Friday Night Shabbat service on April 29th. You can watch it on our YouTube channel. For upcoming Shabbat services and programs, check our event calendar, and see our Accessibility & Inclusion page for information about our venues. Follow us on Instagram and like us on Facebook for more updates.
Produced by Mishkan Chicago. Music composed, produced, and performed by Kalman Strauss.
Those words that we just sang. I'll sing them again in a minute as we go into the blessing of counting the Omer. For the sake of the unification of God, and the Shekhinah, who is the Holy Blessed One and the Shekhinah, which is I feel like if anybody's even studied a little bit of Kabbalah, so they've heard of the Shekhinah, which is like the feminine presence of God. And we love that because we're like, Wait, hang on, wait Judaism has a feminine conception of God?! Yes, in fact, we do. And it's the God that you know, sort of hangs out among us. And in the name Mishkan actually, the our community comes from is from that very same route Shahina, which means to dwell like God's dwelling among us and between us, but is interesting for the sake of the unification of God and the Shahina. "Hineni mukhanah umzumenet lekayem mitzvat aseh." Here I am ready and prepared to do this mitzvah. This is a Kabbalistic formulation like an incantation, an invocation. That is done before doing all kinds of meats, vote all kinds of ritual mitzvot lighting Shabbat candles, or counting the Omer, or like waving the lulav at Sukkot.
What on earth is are we praying for? "For the sake of the unification of God and the Shekhinah?" So if you're like, "Oh, I know Kabbalah, I know, I know!" Hold hold for a second. This is beautiful, but what does it mean? What might it mean? Please? Yeah. Striving for balance for who? Can I push you? yourself? Okay, all right. So striving for balance first for me, because I'm the one who's about to do this mitzvah. Okay, others? For the sake of the unification of God, and here I stand ready and prepared to do this mitzvah? Yes.
For me, what came to mind is an internal unification of conception of God and something personal, that God was in a sense, we are already connected. Hard for us to remember. It's their internal being. There's this, that the conception of, of God, the Creator of the universe, that mystical force, whatever it is, is very personal. And that we ourselves are kind of like fractured about it. Is that Is that what you're saying? So this is a prayer to harmonize the fracture within ourselves. My Am I misquoting you or am I? No. That's how I think. So this is a prayer for the sake of the unification of God and the shuffling inside of my I, I'm about to do this mitzvah. Yeah, that's how I think about all.
I'm not, you know, turning down this cheeseburger because it's like something in the sky. And I have to remind myself.
Yes, we I'm okay, I'm not turning down this and I'm repeating you because of, I'm not turning down this cheeseburger because of, you know, some presence in the sky who is going to zap me I'm doing it because
I'm doing it, because I'm part of,
I'm part of what I am part of God. And by and by taking the action that I am taking with the intention that I am taking it, I am restoring the harmony between myself and God. And the owner is like that, too. Now, everybody's like, Oh, I can't have Abby else. So that these, these Kabbalists, these mystics who created actually all of cobble at Shabbat, like the idea of getting together and singing on a Friday night, as a way of welcoming in the Sabbath, you know, they were welcoming in, you know, they would go out into the fields and welcoming God, you know, from the setting sun, but like the idea of Shabbat, and they have this conception of God is actually having kind of layers, and like way out there. I actually I love this, this is it, because it harmonizes with Buddhism really beautifully, like Buddhism is like, there's the great nothing out there. And Judaism is like out there is the nothingness without end. "Ein-sof." There is the nothingness without end, which is sort of like the most hard to conceptualize way out there, version of God. And then the closer you get down to earth, you get to the Shekinah, who is like, like a palpable presence among us. And when you say like, I feel like I can feel God in the room. That's like you and the Shekhinah making out. [Laughter in the room!] And that's why on a Friday night, we you know, there's like all of this love imagery, because Friday night is supposed to be actually I mean, like, these people were highly sexual, I don't know if they were very repressed or very liberated. But any, like, Friday night was the union, like the actual, you know, like the god and the Shekhinah would get it on. And on Friday night, it's a little weird, like, Oh, God, we're in the room with that, yeah, we're making it happen. That's the whole idea. Like, the harder we sing, the more we connect, the more intention we bring, the more God is unified. This idea and actually, it's not even a you know, just a Kabbalistic incantation every time in the morning when we're saying that right before we say the Shema, we gather the four corners of our tzitzit and we say yeah, "Ched Chad," God we are trying to unify you "b'ahava" with love every single day. So I put this out there for you. As we go into the Omer which I know for some people is like, you know, as Rabbi Deena was say, Could just be counting, you know, but imagine doing something as simple as counting with the kind of intention that reminds you that you are part of the unification of God in this world. Just like walking around the world having this intention, [Hebrw] which means my job is to unify God, as I walk around as I eat as I speak. And somehow that actually, the Kabbalists believed was a part of the Tikun, the healing of the universe, which they believed was actually broken. That that God sort of in coming into and creating this world sort of exploded God's self you know, once upon a time, maybe God was this perfect whole thing but but then the light shattered into shards, and the shards are all over the world and it is our job to pick them up. And to collect them and to put them back together. And that is Tikun Olam. That is the healing of the world. And that is the putting together of God. So now, I'm going to invite us to stand. We're going to sing this one more time. And then Seth is going to continue the slides for the blessing of counting the Omer and tonight Well, yesterday we were Day 13, so you can say it in Hebrew with us or you can say it in English. We've been counting since the second night of Passover, which was exactly two weeks ago.