Devar Torah Parshas Emor – The Counting of the Omer

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On the second day of Pesach we were required to bring a special korban mincha from the newly grown barley. It consisted of one tenth of an Efah. ( An Efah is a measurement equal to the volume of 432 eggs. ) It came from freshly grown and finely ground barley flour. A tenth of an Efah is also called an “Omer.” Starting with the bringing of this korban referred to as the “Omer,” we count forty nine days and then we celebrate the yom tov of Shvuous, – the time of the Giving of the Torah.

This raises some very obvious questions. Firstly, if the purpose of counting these 49 days is to count the days left to Mattan Torah – the giving of the Torah – then why do we start our count from the bringing of this korban Mincha which is brought on the 2nd day of Pesach? Why not start counting 50 days from the very first day of Pesach? What very special significance and relationship does this barley korban play in the count of the forty nine days separating Pesach from Shevuos. ( See the Sefer Ha’Chinuch that discuses this question.) Furthermore, one wonders why this korban is called a Korban Omer? The word Omer is actually a measurement equal to one tenth of an Efah. Most all korban minochous consist of this measurement but are not referred to by the name Omer. Why is it only this korban that gets the name Omer?

We also find that this particular korban plays an important role in some of our victories against our enemies. For example, the Medrash says that it was in the merit of this korban that Mordecaiha’tzadick was victorious over our arch-enemy Haman . The Medrash continues and lists many other victories all in merit of the Korban Omer. The Medrash also tells us that it was in the merit of the Omer that Avrohom inherited the land of C’naan. Why was this korban considered more important than many of the other korbonous we brought?

When the yidden traveled through the desert, a great miracle took place and bread called Mon rained down from Heaven. Each person was allowed to collect exactly one Omer of Mon, except for Friday when they collected a double portion, since no Mon fell on Shabbos. This Heavenly bread taught them a very important lesson. Hashem could be fully trusted to provide them with their daily sustenance and collecting more or less of it was a useless task since the end result would always be the very same.

When they entered Eretz Yisroel the Mon lasted until the 15th day of Nissan. It was therefore on the 16th of Nissan that they brought the first ripened barley as a thanksgiving to Hashem. They would now have to realize that Heavenly bread and the bread that grows from the ground are very much the same. Seeds growing from the ground are no less a miracle than Mon falling down from Heaven. They both are brought forth by Hashem, and you get only as much as Hashem wants you to get. Some would have to put in more work while others would work less, yet the end result is that you will only wind up with the amount decreed in Heaven. Working on Shabbos or putting in extra hours is therefore just a waste of a person’s time and energy. You will not be making any more money. You only receive what Hashem wants you to receive. The bringing of the Korban Omer was a show of our appreciation for all Hashem does for us. In fact, theKorban Omer needed T’nufo – to be waved in all directions. This was to show that it all comes from Hashem the Maker of the entire universe.

This is why the Medrash says that “the Torah was given to those who ate the Mon.” The Mon taught us to put our faith and trust in Hashem and to realize that everything comes from Him Alone. One only gets what is decreed in Heaven Above. No less and no more!

When the Yidden entered Eretz Yisroel, they brought a korban mincha from the new grown barley on the 16th day of Nissan. They called it a Korban Omer in remembrance of that Omer of Monthat fell on a daily basis as they traveled through the desert for forty years. The counting of the Omer acted as a reminder of the Mon’s important lesson. Only by understanding that it isHashem alone that provides for our daily sustenance can we properly prepare for the Yom Tov of Shvuos, the time of the Giving of the Torah. The counting of the Omer reinforces this important message taught to us by this korban. If this is the type of life we live, then we certainly merit the Giving of the Torah which in turn saves us from our many enemies.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

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