Friday, May 02, 2014

Emor 5642 Second Ma'amar

In this week’s parsha we find the mitzvah of counting the Omer, the seven weeks between the beginning of Pesach and Shavuos.  The pasuk instructs us, “וספרתם לכם  ... שבע שבתות תמימות תהיינה/You shall then count … seven weeks; they shall be complete.” (VaYikra 23:15)  Since the pasuk tells us clearly that we should count the fifty days beginning on the second day of Pesach and culminating on Shavuos, it seems that the words תמימות תהיינה/they shall be complete, are extraneous.  

The Midrash[1] addressing this question teaches that these weeks are considered complete when the nation does the will of God.  What does this mean?  To understand this Midrash we need to understand the significance of תמימות/complete.  In Tehillim (37:38) we find, “יודע ה' ימי תמימים .../God knows the days of the complete …”  God knows everything so what is this pasuk teaching us?  The Sfas Emes explains this pasuk elsewhere[2] noting that the word יודע/know connotes connection.  The Sfas Emes explains that the days of the righteous are closer, as it were, more connected, to God.  The righteous try to do God’s will and God reciprocates by helping them along.  Chazal[3] therefore teach, explaining this pasuk, that just as the righteous are complete, so are their days complete.

The days between Pesach and Shavuos, are particularly suited for coming close to God.  After the Exodus the nation was like a newborn child.  God wanted us to use these days to leave the impurity of Egypt and reach purity so that we would be able to receive the Torah and be close to Him.  Therefore God gave us these days as a gift.  This is why the pasuk says, “וספרתם לכם .../You shall then count (lit. for yourselves) …”  God gave us these days for our own benefit so that we may use them to come close to Him.

This is also the reason these days of Sefiras HaOmer are mentioned together with the holidays.  Just like the days of the righteous are closer to God, so to the holidays are closer to God.  This is why they are called, “מועדי ה'/the times of God”.  In fact, the days between Pesach and Shavuos are likened to the days of Chol HaMoed.  Just like the days of Chol HaMoed are preceded and succeeded by holidays (holy days), so too, the days of Sefiras HaOmer are preceded by Pesach and succeeded by Shavuos.

The Sfas Emes teaches that the days themselves help us to reach purity.  But this is true only if we want to reach purity as Chazal[4] teach us, one who wants to be pure is helped from Heaven.  This then explains the first Midrash above.  These days are considered complete and help us to reach completeness only if we strive to do the will of God and be complete ourselves.  They will only help us, if we strive to help ourselves.  May we merit it.  AMEN!

[1] VaYikra R. 28:3
[3] Breishis R. 58:1
[4] Yoma 38b

No comments: