Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Series by Rabbi Dovid Horowitz שליט׳א
Part 10 - The Laws Of Sefiras Ha'Omer
Since 1864, Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried's Kitzur Shulchan Aruch has been one of the world's most widely used Halachic guides for daily Jewish living. No work of Halachah has been reprinted so many times in so many countries. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch is the definitive text for studying all of the basic Jewish laws that have been in regular practice for centuries.
From the second night of Passover until the day before the holiday of Shavuot, the Jewish people engage in an unique mitzvah called Sefirat HaOmer (counting of the Omer). The Torah commands us that during this time each year we count seven complete weeks, for a total of 49 days. At the end of the seven-week period we celebrate Shavuot, which means "weeks."
Counting Omer is considered a mitzvah, so the count, which takes place each night, is preceded by a blessing. However, we may recite the blessing only if we have not missed a single day’s counting. If we have omitted the counting even one night during that stretch (and did not make it up during the daytime without reciting the blessing), we may no longer recite the blessing, but instead must listen as another person says the blessing and then do the counting.
During the times of the Holy Temple, at the beginning of the Omer count and on the following holiday of Shavuot, special grain offerings were brought. These offerings were waved in different directions, similar to how the lulav is waved during the holiday of Sukkot, to demonstrate G‑d Almighty’s all-encompassing presence.
Why do we count these days? We learn several reasons. The foremost is that the count demonstrates our excitement for the impending occasion of receiving the Torah, celebrated on Shavuot. Just as a child often counts the days until the end of school or an upcoming family vacation, we count the days to show our thrill at again receiving the Torah (as we do in fact receive the Torah in a renewed sense every year).
We also learn that this period is meant to spiritually prepare and refine ourselves. When the Jewish people were in Egypt nearly 3,400 years ago, they had assimilated many of the immoral ways of the Egyptian people. The Jews had sunk to an unprecedented level of spiritual impurity, and were on the brink of destruction. At the last possible moment, the children of Israel were miraculously redeemed. They underwent a spiritual rebirth and quickly ascended to the holiest collective state they had ever reached. They were so holy, in fact, that they were compared to angels when they stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai to receive the Torah.
|The Laws Of Sefiras Ha'Omer|