OU Torah Insights Project
Parshas Emor contains the mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer, the seven-week count from Pesach to Shavuos. As the nexus between Pesach and Shavuos, this mitzvah teaches that the primary goal of our redemption from Egyptian slavery was kabbalas HaTorah, our acceptance of the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Exodus from Egypt was only a prerequisite for the servitude that the Jewish people would accept at Mount Sinai.
It is this concept that forms the basis for Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik, z"tl, understanding of the dialogue between G-d and Moshe Rabbeinu. G-d commands Moshe "to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt." to which Moshe responds, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?"
Moshe argues that he is not the right person for this mission. He had a speech impediment and felt he would have no influence on Pharaoh. The Lord answered him, "Do not worry, Moshe, for I will be with you."
But the dialogue does not end there. G-d informs Moshe that "this shall be the sign that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt, you shall serve G-d on this mountain."
The Rav shows from this latter part of the verse that the purpose of G-ds freeing the Jewish nation from Egyptian slavery was not to create a political and social entity, but to establish "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."
To be a political leader, there were people more qualified that Moshe, but to be rebbe of the Jewish people, Moshe Rabbeinu was the most outstanding candidate. Only Moshe could lead the people to "serve G-d on this mountain."
The period of Sefiras Haomer offers an opportunity to journey each day toward the mountain of Sinai. Each day counted brings us closer towards Shavuos, strengthening our commitment to the Torah of Sinai.
The Rav thus explains the Torah s repeated use of the word Shabbos in reference to Sefiras Haomer. Just as G-d created the physical world in six days and set aside the seventh day of Shabbos, to be a spiritual oasis, so must a Jew, during this expanded Shabbos, this seven-week period of Sefiras Haomer, create his own spiritual world.
This is the message of the prayer of Sefiras Haomer. "Master of the Universe, You commanded us to count the omer in order to purify us from our evil and defilement. Let there be purification for the souls of your people Israel from their impurities. May Sefiras Haomer sanctify us with Your sublime Holiness."Rabbi Bertram Leff
Rabbi Leff is the editor of Torah Insights