We are now all in the midst of the mitzvah of counting the omer, which
is commanded to us by Hashem in this week's parsha, Emor. We count starting from the
second day of Pesach when the barley omer sacrifice is brought,(being Pesach, this was a
non-chametz mincha sacrifice) for seven complete weeks, until the fiftieth day when the
sacrifice of two loaves of wheat bread (chametz) are brought. These mincha sacrifices were
only brought during the time of the Bais Hamikdash, but even so we still count the sefirah
days now when there is no Temple.
The Sefer Hachinuch gives us a greater comprehension of the mitzva and
we can understand why it is still applicable in our days (even though we would certainly
do it as Hashem's command even if we didn't understand at all). He writes that when the
Jews were taken out of Egypt on Pesach, they also were not able to bring the sacrifices
for they were not in Israel with the Temple. Yet, they knew that they were being taken out
of Egypt for the sole reason of receiving the Torah and worshipping Hashem. And their
desire for this was so great that they counted toward it like someone who just can't wait
to arrive at the greatest occasion in his life. The Chinuch notes that the going out of
bondage into freedom was not as important to them as getting the Torah, which they started
counting for right away the day after they got out. The great miracles, the relief of
tremendous suffering, were wonderful of course; but for what reason? What can we do with
our new free lives? There is no point unless one acts wisely and purposefully with his
freedom. So we immediately start striving with great desire to reach that for which the
entire world was created: The Torah. This is something that all Jews can and must do
regardless of whether the Temple stands or not.
The Kli Yakar on Chumash elaborates on the mincha given on the fiftieth
day which was brought from the first wheat of the season and made into two loaves, called
in the passuk the "new mincha". The fiftieth day is in reality Shavuos, when the
Torah was given to the Jews, and the new mincha is appropriate for the giving of the Torah
which should always be new in our eyes, as if we have received it anew every day. Hashem
didn't specifically name this day as the giving of the Torah because He didn't want to
limit the Giving of the Torah to only one day. Rather, a person should look upon it as
though every single day of the year he receives something new from the Torah, like a baby
who nurses from his mother always is able to taste new milk which is constantly flowing
and never stops.
The new mincha was leavened to hint to the evil inclination who is
compared to the leavening in the dough. The Torah is the only thing which is the antidote
for the evil inclination. In fact, the Torah was given to us only because we need it to
fight the evil inclination and fulfill what we lack.
The Medrash tells us what happened:
Moshe went to get the Torah and bring it to the Jews. The angels
refused to relinquish it and Hashem bade Moshe to justify his desire to remove the Torah
from the heavens and bring it down to mortals on earth. Moshe claimed that the
commandments - to eat kosher, honor parents, etc. - could be kept only by those beings
that have a desire for food, that have parents, that have an inclination which needs
direction. This does not apply to the angels who do only Hashem's will.
Hashem agreed to this reasoning, so indeed we received the Torah on the fiftieth day
Shavuous only because of the evil inclination- represented by the new mincha loaves
brought on Shavuous.
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