Pearls of Rashi – Emor II

In this week’s Parshah, Emor, the Torah tells us to count 49 days beginning with the second day of Pesach. The fiftieth day is the festival of Shavuos, as we read[1] “you shall count for yourselves seven weeks from the day after ‘Shabbos’ …” Rashi cites the words “from the day after Shabbos,” and comments as follows. “On the day after the (first day) of the festival (of Passover).” In other words, the term Shabbos here does not refer to the seventh day of the week, as is usually the case. Rather it refers to a different day of rest; i.e., the first day of Pesach.

The Talmud tells us[2] that the Baisusim[3] incorrectly interpreted the words “from the day after Shabbos” literally. Hence, they began the counting of the Omer on the night following Shabbos, and Shavuos was always celebrated on Sunday. However, our Sages explain that here the word “Shabbos” refers to the first day of Pesach. Therefore, the day that we begin the count depends on which day of the week Pesach begins.

We need to understand the meaning behind this. This entire disagreement is because the Torah used a word which appears to be ambiguous. Granted, the word Shabbos can, and at times does, refer to a festival. However, the Torah could have simply said “from the day after Yom Tov,” instead of “the day after Shabbos,” and there would have been no room for a mistake.

This can be explained as follows. Hashem took us out of Egypt in order to give us the Torah. However, we weren’t ready. The centuries of slavery to the immoral Egyptians caused us to sink quite low. One of the ideas of counting the Omer was to refine and rectify the attributes of our Animal Soul as a preparation to enable us to receive the Torah.

The Hebrew word for counting the Omer is “Sefiras HaOmer – ספירת העומר.” The word Sefira means counting, but it is also related to the word “Sapir – [4]ספיר,” which is a type of precious stone. By counting the Omer, we “polish” ourselves, and “shine.”

Nature is divided into units of seven, i.e. the seven days of creation. The greatest day of the week is the seventh, Shabbos. However, it is still one of the seven days of creation. The day after Shabbos is a level of G-dliness which is totally above the limitations of nature. For us to ready ourselves to receive the Torah, we must draw on the eighth day, this transcendent level of Divine assistance.

My we use these days of counting the Omer to their fullest, and merit to receive the Torah with joy.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos and a happy Lag B’Omer!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 1, Page 265

Mr. Sholom Moshe Hacohen
ben Reb Shlomo Meir Hacohen ע”ה Cohen
Passed away Shabbos Parshas Beshalach, 13 Shevat, 5779
May His Soul be bound in the Eternal Bond of Life
* * *
לעילוי נשמת
ר’ שלום משה הכהן בן ר’ שלמה מאיר הכהן ע”ה כהן
נפטר ש”ק פ’ בשלח, י”ג שבט, ה’תשע”ט
ת. נ. צ. ב. ה.
יו”ל ע”י בני משפחתו שיחיו

[1]. Our Parshah, Vayikroh 23:15.

[2]. Talmud Menochos 65, a.

[3]. They were a heretical sect of Jews. They did not accept the Oral Law as it was taught by the Sages of the Talmud.

[4]. This is usually translated as a sapphire.

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