Sefiras HaBinyan / Counting for Building God’s 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 from Pesach to ShavuosWe start counting after tisha b’av ends.  We ascend, starting with Malchut Sheb’Malchut and up to Chesed Sheb’Chesed in the spirit of this time of our calendar, a time for reflection and Teshuvah / a return to purity.

The words above could be inserted into a maariv / an evening service, at the same point we count during the Omer, right before Aleinu. With numbers descending in countdown fashion, we keep count as in the Omer beginning Malchut of Malchut, forty-nine days, seven weeks left and ending Chesed of Chesed, one day left. We can call it Sefiras HaBinyan / Counting the Building of 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 and build God’s realm within us.  (Please see “A Guide For Starting Your New Incarnation,” available from Aleph Canada Resources.) May we all have a Sefiras HaBinyan of blessing in this year so we will merit the taste of redemption as we move toward the Rosh HaShannah season and into next year.  Shalom, Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor.

10 Responses to “Sefiras HaBinyan / Counting for Building God’s 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 someone who noticed there are 49 days between Tisha B’Av and erev Rosh Hashanah, mentioned it to Reb Zalman who suggested a new practice.

    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:

    On Rosh Hashannah, we have the themes of malchuyot, zichronot and shofarot. And during Elul they say that the king is available to us as He is on the road with us moving toward the castle.
    Counting Sefirot daily is a mechanism which is mamash gewalt. Through a consciousness of sefirot a stronger connection happens toward investing the King.
    The suggestion I’ve heard is to start with malchut shebiMalchut and end with chesed shebichesed. It feels right to name the numbers in a way consistent with the Omer so we start with Chesed shebichesed which is day 1. On erev erev Rosh Hashannah we are at Chesed Shebichesed. If during this period we counted upwards, it would be day 49. But here, instead of counting forwards as we do during the Omer, we count backwards.
    So the second day of Pesach, we are on day one chesed shebichesed so we say it is day one. Similarly, on erev erev RH we are also chesed shebichesed so it is day one in the sense of one day remaining to erev RH.

    (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:

    How exciting, Susan.
    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. Sefirat HaBinyan more, means counting of the building.
    I am happy to hear that this is being done in a community; and that you are thinking of even writing about the experience, very cool!
    The energy of Sefirot are already embedded 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

  10. gloria krasno Says:

    To Gabbai Seth

    AMEN and Thank you, Gabbai Seth for continuing Reb Zalman’s innovative path.

    Yet another turning to deepen time’s score!
    Each count named and paired and daily delivered
    with thoughtful steps and spacious heart
    with breath and intention to make the day special
    each count a love note to Hashem

    Blessings, galorYa

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