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02/01/2013

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By Rabbi Joshua Flug
Hashkafic Themes of
Sefiras Ha'Omer
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I.
Introduction- This shiur outline will address some of the hashkafic themes of sefiras
ha'omer.

a. The Torah mentions sefiras ha'omer twice. In Parshas Emor, the Torah states that one should count seven weeks (Shabasos) and then bring a korban on the fiftieth day {}. In Parshas Re'eh, the Torah states that one should count seven weeks. {}.

b. There a number of important differences between the two parshios that will be
addressed by some of the sources that we will present.

i. In Parshas Emor, there is an emphasis on the term "Shabbos." The count begins \u05ea\u05d1\u05e9\u05d4 \u05ea\u05e8\u05d7\u05de\u05de. The weeks are referred to as Shabasos. At the end of the last Shabbos, the fiftieth day is observed. In Parshas Re'eh, the weeks are called Shavuos. The holiday that follows these weeks is called "Chag Shavuos."

ii. In Parshas Emor, the counting begins on the first day of bringing the korban ha'omer. In Parsha Re'eh, the counting begins \u05d4\u05de\u05e7\u05d1 \u05e9\u05de\u05e8\u05d7 \u05dc\u05d7\u05d4\u05de, at the beginning of the harvest.

iii. In Parshas Emor, the concept of the bringing of the omer, the count and Shavuos are presented as separate and distinct from Pesach. In Parshas Re'eh, the Torah concludes the concept of Shavuos with the idea of simcha and remembering that we were slaves in Egypt, which seems to blend Pesach and Shavuos.

II.
Sefirah as a Count Towards Matan Torah- Many Rishonim explain that sefiras ha'omer is
a count towards Matan Torah:

a.Rambam (1138-1204) writes that since the purpose of Yetzias Mitrayim was to receive the Torah, the sefirah represents the anticipation leading up to the special event. {}

b. Sefer HaChinuch writes that the count is to symbolize the connection of the tafel to the ikar. The goal of Yetzias Mitzrayim was Matan Torah and therefore, one must count to show that the main event is Matan Torah. Counting shows anticipation for something better. {}

i. The reason why the count begins on the second day of Pesach is so that we
don't lose focus of the great miracles that occurred in leaving Egypt.
ii. The count relates to the korban omer because the korban's message is that G-d
watches over us and provides grain to us each year.

1.R. Aharon Kotler (1891-1962) explains that understanding that G-d provides for our daily needs is a prerequisite to learning Torah. If we don't have sufficient emunah/bitachon, our learning is incomplete. {}

c.Radvaz (d. 1573) writes that the count is comparable to a person anticipating a gift from a king on a certain day. He is going to count the days until he can receive the gift. {}

d. The Messages of this idea:

i.R. Shimshon Refael Hirsch (1808-1888) writes that the Torah is highlighting the fact that one should not mistakenly think that the goal is freedom and now that freedom is achieved and one is able to harvest grain from his fields that he has achieved his life's goal. Rather, the goal is achieved when one has accepted G-d's authority and His Torah. This is why the Torah uses the word Shabbos in the context of sefiras ha'omer. Shabbos represents the day that one achieves his greatest heights and specifically not while working. After seven times of experiencing Shabbos, one is now ready to accept the Torah. {}

ii.R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843-1926) suggests that the word Shabbos refers to the commandment of "Tashbisu." The day after one is required to destroy his chametz (i.e. after the first day of Pesach), one should start counting. Chametz represents something that is part of life throughout the year and during Pesach, we must learn to separate it from our lives. Similarly, Kabalas HaTorah requires us to be prepared to live among the nations of the world, while still remaining distinct and not assimilated. {}

III.
Is the Reason Different Now that there is no Beis HaMikdash?

a.Rabbeinu Yerucham (1290-1350) quotes a Midrash (we don't have this Midrash) that the purpose of Sefiras Ha'Omer is to anticipating Matan Torah. He notes that now that we don't have a Beis HaMikdash, there are those that suggest that this is the reason for Sefiras Ha'Omer. {}

b.Rabbeinu Nissim (1320-1380) quotes the idea presented by Rabbeinu Yerucham and
disagrees because our mitzvah nowadays is a zecher laMikdash. {}

c. Perhaps the comments of Rabbeinu Yerucham can be explained based on a comment of R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk (1843-1926) explaining a different ruling of Rabbeinu Yerucham. Rabbeinu Yerucham {} as well as R. Meir Abulafia (Ramah, c. 1170- 1244) {} are of the opinion that the mitzvah to count weeks only applies on a Torah level when the Beis HaMikdash is built. The mitzvah to count days applies biblically even when there is no Beis HaMikdash. [See the shiur outline on the Mitzvah of

Sefiras Ha'Omer.] R. Meir Simcha suggest that they view the mitzvah of Sefiras

Ha'Omer as a product of the two different parshiyos. Parshas Emor teaches the mitzvah to count fifty days and that count is not a count relating to korbanos. Parshas Re'eh teach us the concept of "Chag HaShavuos," the holiday that relates to the weeks. This holiday is rooted in korbanos, and this is why there is an entire week for tashlumin for the korban chagigah. When there is no Beis HaMikdash, there is no "Chag HaShavuos," just the Chag Ha'Atzeres (or Chag HaBikurim) which is observed in all generations. {}

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