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Blog Image: rav wolbe.jpg
Dvar Torah # 572 - Sefiras Ha'Omer (Shemini)
Sefiras Ha'Omer (Shemini)

Chazal dispute what should be done when Klal Yisrael read the Megillah on Purim and subsequently the Sanhedrin added another month of Adar: Should the Megillah be read a second time on the fourteenth of Adar II? Reb Elazar ben Reb Yosi is of the opinion that it should not be read again. Since halacha dictates that one should not pass up the opportunity to do a mitzvah, the first Adar is the proper time to read the Megillah. However, Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel asserts that it should be read once again in the second Adar "because adjoining the geulah [redemption from Haman] to the geulah [redemption from Mitzrayim] outweighs the principle of not passing over a mitzvah."
How do we understand Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel's reasoning? Why is it necessary to connect the two geulos to each other? Rav Wolbe explains that not passing up an opportunity to perform a mitzvah is a manifestation of the trait of alacrity, while the idea of connecting the geulos is based on the trait of continuity, and continuity takes precedence over alacrity. Connecting the different times of the year to each other, turns the interim time periods into a single continuous timeline of spirituality wherein one climbs from one rung of holiness to the next.
This idea is common throughout the Jewish calendar. The three weeks connect Shivah Asar B'Tamuz to Tisha B'Av. The Shivah D'Nechemta (the haftoros of consolation read for seven consecutive weeks after Tisha B'Av) connect Tisha B'Av to Rosh Hashana, and the Aseres Yimei Teshuva connect Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur. Yet, the most obvious example of this idea is sefiras ha'omer where we literally count the days in between Pesach and Shavuos.
Pesach has ended, but it is not over yet. Every Yom Tov is a stepping stone to the next Yom Tov as we climb the ladder through the year and year after year. How does one make Pesach a catalyst for continued spiritual ascension? One possibility is to take the fundamentals of emunah discussed on Leil HaSeder and crystallize them by learning a sefer on the topic. The Kuzari, Chovos Halevavos, Emunah U'Bitachon of the Chazon Ish and Alei Shur are just a few of the possibilities. With a small investment of time you can enjoy the spiritual highs of Pesach all year round!

* * *

The forty-nine days of Sefiras Ha'Omer are days laden with opportunity. It was during these days that Bnei Yisrael rose from the lowest levels of spirituality and reached the loftiest levels - climaxing with Kabbalas HaTorah, and each year one can tap into this spiritual wellspring. Conversely, the inauspiciousness of these days also seems quite evident since it was during this exact period of time that the twenty four thousand disciples of Rebbi Akiva died. So are these days auspicious or inauspicious?
Rav Wolbe (Alei Shur vol. II p. 396) explains that indeed both are true. Chazal tell us (Avos 6:2) "One who toils in Torah becomes elevated." If one's Torah study only produces a sharper mind and great knowledge but does not generate character improvement, then his Torah study is grossly lacking. The elevation produced through Torah is evident in the refinement and nobility of those who toil in its study.
The twenty four thousand disciples died because "they did not honor one another." Giving honor is the attribute which expresses the refinement of an individual. One who is not inclined to honor other people demonstrates that despite his Torah knowledge he has not become elevated. When Hashem revealed Himself on the night of the redemption from Mitzrayim, Bnei Yisrael experienced a tremendous, albeit fleeting, elevation. The following day Bnei Yisrael reverted back to their previous lowly state, and the days of the Omer were given to them to try to regain the awesome spiritual level which they had experienced. Thus, this time is opportune for achieving true elevation, and the disciples of Rebbi Akiva who lacked this critical aspect of spiritual elevation were punished specifically during this time period.
These are days that contain within them a generous dose of Heavenly assistance to elevate oneself and refine his character. If Hashem is offering us His hand, how could we ignore it?

Posted 4/21/2017 6:36 PM | Tell a Friend | Articles of Interest | Comments (0)

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