Lag Ba’omer

3 05 2010

Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles

Lag B'aomer

What is it the unique power inherent in Lag Ba’omer and how can we utilize this special day to grow in our avodat Hashem?

Rav Schwab in Maarchei Lev notes that there are two verses that mention the mitzva of sefira. One verse commands us to begin counting seven weeks when the barley sacrifice is offered. The second verse tells us to count forty nine days towards Shavuot.

Rav Schwab explains a significant difference between these two verses. Weeks refer to the physical world of nature, in which Hashem dictates reality. Days refer to spiritual realm, which is dependent on the actions of man.

The korban omer was brought on Pesach. The central motif of Pesach is emuna in Hashem and belief in Divine Providence. We need to do our hishtadlut but ultimately, Hashem is the one who gives us everything. Pesach is also the time when the mahn stopped falling. We can endeavor to collect a little or a lot of mahn, but ultimately a person will only receive what is divinely destined for him. Rav Schwab explains that the omer was a tenth of an eifa, a tiny amount of the most basic type of barley.  This also intimates that man is puny, as is his offering, and we do not have the ability to give Hashem anything.

In the physical realm, the world of weeks, Hashem is in charge. However, the spiritual realm, the world of days, is dependent on the avoda of man’s soul. The Baal Shem Tov explained the maxim in Pirkei Avot, “Da ma l’maaleh mimcha” to mean that whatever happens is really a direct repercussion of man’s actions. What exists above is from you, from your actions. Just as giving tzedaka provides sustenance to needy people, it also activates a flow of Divine sustenance onto this earth. Man has tremendous power and his mitzvot can leave an indelible impact on the world.

On Pesach we are obligated to see ourselves as if we left Mitzrayim. Mitzrayim symbolizes meitzarim, narrow straits. Sefira is about leaving our natural confines. It’s about finding ourselves and discovering the unique aspect within each of us. Allowing our spiritual selves to grow corresponds to days.

“Avraham ba bayim.” Our forefather Avraham came with his days. The Zohar explains that he took each of his days and offered it up to Hashem. Man creates his life by virtue of the accomplishments of each of his days. This is why we count days during sefira. Each day is important as it gradually builds towards Shavuot.
The Kozhnitzer Maggid notes that the first three weeks of sefira correspond to the three matzot at the seder, and the last four weeks relate to the four cups of wine. The fifth week, the week of Lag Ba’omer, symbolizes the second cup of wine, which is poured at Mah Nishtana. There we say, “Kan haben shoel,” here the son asks. We are all children of Hashem, and Lag Ba’omer is an auspicious time to daven. It is a day when Hashem’s intense love for us burns passionately, and when the gates of heaven are flung open to accept our supplications. May we merit to tap into the greatness of this day and may Hashem respond to all of our prayers.