תשע”ט פ’ אמור
Volume 28, Issue 10
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
שבע שבתות תמימות תהיינה
“Seven weeks, they shall be compete…” (23:15)
When are the weeks complete? When Klal Yisrael does the will of Hashem (Vayikra Rabbah 28:3). We count from Pesach until Shavuot to demonstrate that the two are connected. Pesach is the geulat haguf, our physical redemption, and Shavuot is the geulat hanefesh, our spiritual redemption. One is not completely free until he has a geulat hanefesh; until then, one is still a slave to his yetzer hara. By fulfilling the will of the Ribono Shel Olam during this period of sefira, one will merit “temimot tih’yena” – the fusion of what Pesach and Shavuot represent, to achieve a complete redemption. (Maharam Shick)
וספרתם לכם ממחרת השבת מיום הביאכם את עמר התנופה שבע שבתות תמימות תהיינה
“You shall count for yourselves from the day after the day of rest from the day that you bring the Omer of the waving, seven weeks, they shall be complete.” (23:15)
Unlike all other Yomim Tovim, Shavuot is not a set date on the calendar, but rather is always fifty days form the counting of the Omer, which begins on the second day of Pesach. We make the bracha “Al sefirat ha’omer”; why is the counting called “sefirat ha’omer”? Being that we are counting towards Shavuot, the time of our receiving the Torah, it would seem more appropriate that the bracha should include the wording related to kabbalat haTorah. The following divrei Torah will expound on this topic, and perhaps support the p’shat offered in the closing paragraph.
We start counting sefirat ha’omer on Pesach to acknowledge that the main reason we were taken out of Egypt was to accept the Torah. The entire world was created in order for Klal Yisrael to receive the Torah. We are supposed to count sefira each day with an anticipation of approaching the day of Matan Torah. A person should work on improving and elevating himself in order to be worthy of receiving the Torah.
Perhaps now we can understand why the focus of our counting is on the korban omer, when we’re actually counting the days towards kabbalat haTorah. Learning Torah builds worlds in shamayim and brings one closer to the Ribono Shel Olam. The Omer alludes to the mann that Bnei Yisrael received in the midbar directly from Hashem Himself. There were no intermediaries between Hashem and Bnei Yisrael.
As we count to kabbalat haTorah, we must remember this message. The first two dibrot were given directly by Hashem to Klal Yisrael. Kabbalat haTorah, like the omer, demonstrates to us the direct connection that we have to Hashem. In order to receive the Torah properly we must strengthen our direct connection with Hashem. (Sefer HaChinuch)
“And when you reap…you must leave them for the poor and for the stranger, I am Hashem your G-d…” (23:22)
This verse, mandating gifts of the harvest to the poor, is included with the laws relating to Shavuot, the Zman matan Torateinu, the time of the giving of the Torah. This is an indication that the Torah comprises not only chukim, super-rational commands, but also the rational dictates of ethics, such as charity and compassion for the poor and the stranger. For unless these dictates are rooted in Emunah, faith in Hashem, man will disregard them and turn into a brutal, heartless beast.
It is for this reason that the Torah includes the ethical mitzvot of gifts to the poor and the stranger among the laws of Shavuot, the Zman Matan Torateinu. Thus, you must “leave them for the poor and for the stranger,” because, “I am hashem your G-d,” because you are motivated by your belief in Hashem. (Meshech Chochmah)
היום שלשה ושלשים יום לעומר
“Today is the thirty third day of the Omer.”
QUESTION: Every night when counting sefirah we say “Today is so many days לעומר – of the omer”. Why do we call the 33rd day “Lag ba’omer” and not “Lag La’omer”?
ANSWER: Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai was a reincarnation of the neshama of Moshe Rabeinu. The words “ל”ג בעומר” have the numerical value of 345, which is also the numerical value of “משה”.
Lag Ba’omer is the day on which the famous sage Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai passed away. He is one of the greatest sages of the Talmud and the author of the holy Zohar. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is mentioned very frequently throughout the Talmud. The day of his hilula – rejoicing on his yahrtzeit – Lag ba’omer – is the thirty third day of the counting of the Omer. It has been noted that the story of his stay in the cave is related in the Gemara (Shabbos) on page 33 and it is the 33rd time that he is mentioned in the Talmud. (Ta’amei HaMinhagim)