Sefirat Haomer-The Inner Count

4 05 2011

Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles 

Sefirat Haomer-The Inner CountUsefartem lachem mi’macharat hashabbat miyom heviachem et omer hatnufa sheva shabbatot temimot tehiyena, ad mimcharat h’shabbat hash’viit… “And you shall count from the day after Shabbat from the day of the waving of the Omer sacrifice, seven full weeks it shall be until the day after the seventh week…” Why is the phrase “Mi’macharat haShabbat” repeated? Why do we first bring an offering of barley and then of wheat? Why do we count towards Shavuot instead of counting down?

 In Shir Hashirim it is written, “Mashchaini acharecha narutza he’viani hamelech chadarav…”- “Draw me towards you and I will run. The King has brought me into his chamber.” Mashchaini refers to Pesach, narutza is Sefirah, and he’viani is Shavuot. On Pesach, Hashem took the initiative and drew us towards Him. He revealed Himself to us and redeemed us. This is why Pesach is called Shabbat. It is an eternal gift from Hashem independent of human intervention. On Pesach, the Jews reached lofty spiritual levels which they could have never attained on their own.  After this great illumination, they were given the challenge to regain it again. They were commanded “narutza“-to count 49 day.  They were to elevate themselves by degrees, until they could once again reach the level they had attained at Yetziat Mitzrayim. We count towards Shavuot and not down. We must not look at the ultimate goal which we cannot yet appreciate. We must gain strength from what we have already accomplished instead of feeling overwhelmed about what is left to do.  If we look at the omer, the first simple offering, our hearts will be uplifted to ascend higher and higher until we can bring the more elaborate wheat offering on the holy Yom Tov of Shavuot.

 Rav Tatz notes that counting the omer is not just a sentimental marking but a build up towards a goal. It is developing each component of a process. We received that burst of inspiration on Pesach. Our challenge during Sefirat haomer is to return to that level again through our own toil and effort.

  The Ishbitzer Rebbe explains that there is a custom to eat eggs at the Seder night. This is symbolic of a spiritual transformation. On the outside of an egg one cannot tell if a chick will eventually emerge. We need to wait and see what will happen. That’s us on the Seder night. We’ve been touched even though we may not sense anything initially. Sefirat haomer is our incubation period. It is during these weeks that we develop ourselves so that we can eventually emerge as deeper human beings on Shavuot.

 Next week, we will discuss the ways in which we can embark on a path of growth during Sefirat Haomer.

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