Sefiras HaBinyan / Building the Realm

 A message from Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor:

Shalom, U’vracha:

Reb Zalman wrote:

“People who have worked on their awareness have pointed out that there are 49 days from the end of Tish’ah b-Av / the fast of the 9th of Av, to the day before Rosh HaShannah.  In counting S’feerah between Pesach and Shavu’ot, we make our way downward from Chesed of Chesed to Malchut of MalchutDuring the Elul  season, we make our way upward from Malchut of Malchut to Chesed of Chesed.”  (A Guide for Starting Your New Incarnation, 2001, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, p. 1)

So here’s a suggestion for how to do the counting at this time of year, (for example, as I write this it is Motzei Shabbat, 16 Av, 5768 / August 16, 2008):

Ribbono shel Olam:  I hereby prepare myself for Sefiras HaBinyan / a counting for building God’s realm during the  time between Tisha B’av and erev Rosh HaShannah. 

Today there are 43 days left until erev Rosh HaShannah, which is 1 day and 6 weeks, Chesed Sheb’Malchut

Dear God: Please let me be a vessel for Your light and help to align me with Your will.  May this period of Sefirat HaBinyan and the New Year be for good, for peace and for blessing for all of Israel [Substitute here your particular identification] and let us say Amen.

There are seven weeks during this period, just as there are from Pesach to ShavuosWe start counting after tisha b’av ends (i.e., the night when 10 of av begins).  We ascend, starting with Malchut Sheb’Malchut and up to Chesed Sheb’Chesed.  The counting is in the spirit of this time of our calendar. 

Above, I have offered a suggestion for a way to do this.  It can be inserted in the maariv at the point where we count during the Omer.  If numbers descend, we can keep our counting consistent with the way of counting during the Omer (i.e. with Chesed of Chesed as one and Malchut of Malchut as forty-nine.)

I’m also suggesting the name Sefiras HaBinyan / Building the Realm.   Reb Zalman again:

“The Hebrew word for return or repentance is t’shuvah.  According to the Zohar, this can be read as tashoov hay [returning the Hay], explained by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi as repairing the gahloot / exile, of the sh’chinnah / The Divine indwelling …  [Bringing] back the hay to the yud-hay-vav, tahshoov hay, … is also known as binyahn hah-mahlchoot / building the realm.  What tahshoov hay in this way means is that we are bringing it back, we are making the connection, so that the yud-hay-vav should be able to come all the way down to the hay.” (ibid, p. 23)

By focusing on Sefirot each day, we connect to the Divine Attributes.  So on an individual level, we can build the realm within us.  (To read more on the topic of how putting one’s attention toward the Sefirot functions in us, please see the above referenced work, “A Guide For Starting Your New Incarnation,” and also, “Tree of Life of Sacred Time” both available from Aleph Resources.)

If your community has already established traditions related to the counting between Tisha B’av  and Rosh HaShannah which you can share, or if you have some ideas/suggestions, please add a comment to this post.  I’ve provided my suggestions here but I would like to learn about how others have come to do this practice. 

I wish you all a successful Sefiras HaBinyan and may we all merit a taste of redemption as we move toward the Rosh HaShannah season and into next year.  Shalom, Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

9 Responses to “Sefiras HaBinyan / Building the Realm”

  1. Joan Hersch Says:

    I greatly appreciate your sharing this with us!! Thank you.

    Joan Hersch

  2. Regina Messer Says:

    Thanks for offering this practice, which is new for me. Counting of the Omer is familiar but Had never heard about Serirat Habinyan. What is it source? Thanks, Regina

  3. Evelyn Stettin Says:

    how do i subscribe?

  4. Gabbai Seth Fishman (Blog Editor) Says:

    Regina: I believe you will not find this in the Talmud or any other ancient or medieval text. I believe it is something that was created in our time and Reb Zalman has been talking about it for some time. I have taken classes with him in this period and he likes the idea because it is in the direction of doing some of the internal preparation we all need as we come in to the yamim noraim. It is also nice to connect Tisha B’av to Rosh Hashanah in this way.

    I believe the story is that Cantor Robert Esformes once noticed there are 49 days between Tisha B’Av and erev Rosh Hashanah, told Reb Zalman and then the latter came up with the idea to tie it to counting Sefirot.

    Hope this helps.

    Gabbai Seth

  5. Gabbai Seth Fishman (Blog Editor) Says:

    Evelyn: Here is the link for the subscription page:

  6. Baruch Says:

    Could it possibly be “Binyan HaSefirot”?

    Also, if it is milimata lima’alah, shouldn’t it begin with “Malchut shebiMalchut” (not “”Chesed shebiMalchut”) & work up to “Chesed shebiMalchut,” then “Malchut shebiYesod” etc. – till the last one being “Chesed shebiChesed”?

  7. Gabbai Seth Fishman (Blog Editor) Says:

    Ok. “Binyan HaSefirot” then.
    On Rosh Hashannah, we have the themes of malchuyot, zichronot and shofarot. And during Ellul they say that the king is available to us as He is on the road with us moving toward the castle.
    But Sefirot is a mechanism and it is mamash gewalt, so I am okay with the substitution because it is through a consciousness of sefirot that the connection happens toward investing the King.
    The suggestion I’ve heard is to start with malchut shebiMalchut and end with chesed shebichesed. I might have confused it in the article, but it felt right to me to name the numbers in a way consistent with what we are already used to on Pesach. So on pesach, we start with Chesed shebichesed which is day 1. On erev erev Rosh Hashannah we are on Chesed Shebichesed but if you count upward it would be day 49. I thought we would leave it as one day remaining so that chesed shebichesed would still be day one. Instead of counting forward we would count backward, if that makes any sense.
    So the second day of Pesach, we are on day one chesed shebichesed so we say it is day one. On erev erev RH we are also chesed shebichesed so it is day one in the sense of one day remaining to erev RH, if that makes any sense.
    I was not saying to start with Chesed shebiMalchut.
    Sorry for any confusion and thanks for the comment.
    (written on day 19, which is 5 days and two weeks, hod shebitiferet)
    Gabbai Seth

  8. Susan Windle Says:

    Hello Gabbai Seth~

    And Thank you for this. I am on my way to counting Binyan HaSeferot (or HaSeferot Binyan?) and find your article to be exactly what I was looking for. I love the practice of counting the Omer and have written my way downward in Through the Gates: A Practice for Counting the Omer
    The book is a series of daily letters, with a poem embedded in each letter, written to a group of spiritual companions, all students of Rabbi Shefa Gold.

    I find the spring practice so profoundly helpful — I’m really looking forward to counting in the way you suggest. I will take a small group of readers with me to receive the raw writings, which I suspect will grow into book 2 of Counting the Omer. Thanks so much for helping me get started! And please take a look of you feel so called!

    Great Gratitude!

    Susan Windle

  9. Gabbai Seth Fishman (Blog Editor) Says:

    Wow Susan:
    That’s really exciting.
    The word Sefirah means both “Counting” and “Divine Attribute”. In Sefirat HaOmer it has that former sense. At this time we are counting Binyan Hamalchut here, the building of the God-energy on this plane. So I think I like the original name, Sefirat HaBinyan more, which means counting of the building that we are doing within ourselves. (Binyan Hasefirot would change the meaning to “Divine attribute”, and we are not really building up the Sefirot; they are beyond our doing that; they just exist and don’t need us to build them.)
    I am really thrilled to hear that this is being done in a community; and that you are thinking of even writing about the experience! That is all very very cool!
    I love the energy of the Sefirot and they are embedded everywhere in our tradition from the Hakafot of Sukkot and Simchat Torah and Sefirat Haomer. Or as we find in the Shacharit service at the end of Pesukei D’Zimrah: L-cha Hashem haGedulah (Chesed) v’haGevurah v’haTiferet v’haNetzach v’haHod. Ki chol bashamayim (Yesod) uvaaretz (Malchut).
    Have a wonderful Hod sheb’Malchut day because right now there are 5 plus 42 days left until erev Rosh Hashanah, which is 47 days. May Hod permeate your Malchut today, i.e., may you notice the Hod aspect (beauty, esthetics) in your Malchut (the things that you do, the things that come from you). Amen

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