The Importance of Introspection by Shaul Yaakov Morrison


The Torah records in Parashat Emor, “U’Sefartem Lechem, “Count for you” (VaYikra 23:15).” This is the beginning of the directive to Count Sefeirat HaOmer. Many Mefarshim ask what the word “Lachem” adds. The Passuk simply could have commanded one to count, without the words “for you.” Not only is this extraneous, the sentence makes more sense without it.

One answer given is that in addition to counting the 49 of the Omer, one is supposed to “make the days count” by working on his self-image. After all, the purpose of these days was originally the days between Yetzi’at Mitzrayim and Matan Torah. Therefore, in preparation for Matan Torah, one needs to work on self-improvement.

This same language is used when Avraham is commanded to go to Eretz Yisrael, “Lech Lecha” (BeReishit 12:1). Avraham went to Eretz Yisrael, and ultimately became a nation. These events, which all started with the commandment to relocate, greatly benefited Avraham. Hence, the language used is Lecha. Sefirat HaOmer can have the same effect on a person. We can take this small opportunity to work on our selves and better prepare ourselves for the reacceptance of the Torah.

It is no coincidence that 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva died during this time. We mourn their tragic shortcomings. They failed to take advantage of the opportunity to improve themselves for Matan Torah. Hashem recognized this, and unfortunately, He needed to punish them. However, it is our duty to learn from their mistakes. Instead of making the same that they made, we need to work on ourselves during this time. The Minhagei Avalut of this time shouldn’t simply be about not shaving or listening to music. Rather, these customs should help us focus our minds towards refocusing our priorities to Hashem.

Sefirat HaOmer is truly a gift. Instead of giving us the Torah immediately after we left Egypt, Hashem gave us time to prepare ourselves spiritually. Hopefully, once Shavuot comes, we will be ready to reaccept the Torah with as much passion as it was accepted at the original Matan Torah.

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