In this week’s Parshah, Emor, the Torah commands us to count the Omer. Beginning with the second day of Pesach, we must count 49 days. On the fiftieth day, we celebrate the festival of Shavuos. We read that “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. Instead, it refers to a day of rest, specifically, the first day of the Passover festival.
The Talmud tells us that the Baisusim interpreted the words “from the day after Shabbos” literally. Hence, they began the counting of the Omer on the night following Shabbos. 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. The Torah could have simply said “from the day after Yom Tov,” instead of “the day after Shabbos.” This would have left no room for any errors.
We can answer this question in the following manner. G-d took us out of Egypt to give us the Torah. However, we weren’t quite up to the task. 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 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 name “Sapir – ספיר,” which is a type of precious stone. By counting the Omer, we cause ourselves to “shine.”
Hashem divided nature into units of seven, i.e., the seven days of creation. The seventh day, Shabbos is the pinnacle of the week. However, it is still within the seven days of Hashem’s creation of the world. 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 this transcendent level of Divine aid.
May we use these days of counting the Omer to their fullest, and merit to receive the Torah with joy and to internalize it.
I wish one and all a Good Shabbos!
Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn
Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 1, Page 265
מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיר דורנו מליובאוויטש
לזכות חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס