Each week we feature a different outstanding Florida Rabbi.
Rabbi Zvi Konikov
Chabad of the Space Coast
In this week's Torah portion, Emor, we are enjoined concerning Counting the Omer: "And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow after the Shabbat from the day that you brought the sheaf -- omer -- of the waving; there shall be seven complete weeks."
After the Exodus from Egypt the Jews were so eager to receive the Torah that they counted the days remaining to that great event. This was a prelude to the precept of "Counting the Omer", which they received later at Mount Sinai.
The Counting of the Omer has always remained a preparation to receiving the Torah; when the forty-nine days of the Omer come to an end, the festival of Shavuot -- celebrating the giving of the Torah follows immediately.
The connection of Counting the Omer with Giving of the Torah finds expression in the idea that both stress the individual. Each person, individually, must count the days of the Omer period as opposed to the communal counting of the Sabbatical and Jubilee cycles. (Each seventh year was the Sabbatical Year, each fiftieth year was the Jubilee Year.) In the Sabbatical and Jubilee years a number of special laws apply, and the mitzva of counting the seven and fifty-year cycles was performed by the Jewish Court on behalf of all Jews. In contrast, the Omer is counted by each person individually.
In similar fashion, the giving of the Torah was not only a communal, collective experience; the Alm-ghty addressed each and every individual separately: "I am G-d your G-d." In Hebrew there are two ways of saying "Your G-d," the singular and the plural. Yet, when G-d addressed the entire Jewish nation, every million in number, the singular form was used. To each one of Israel individually the Alm-ghty gave the Torah; to each He commanded that they study and fulfill the mitzvot. And to each He infused Divinely-granted strength and ability to fulfill the Torah.
The lesson from this week's portion and Counting the Omer is clear: Each day counts; each Jew counts; each mitzva counts.
May the merit of each individual's counting hasten the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.