The Ultimate Goal by Yoni Schwartz


Parashat Emor’s list of holidays throughout the year includes the Mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer, counting the days and weeks from the second day of Pesach until Shavu'ot. However, a question arises regarding the nature of the Mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer. Pesach commemorates the salvation of the Jews from Egypt. At first glance, it seems like this remarkable redemption was the ultimate goal; Hashem saved us from our enemies, while at the same time made His existence and greatness known to the world. Why, then, after this great milestone has been reached, do we immediately begin counting towards a different and seemingly unrelated event? 

If we examine the event that occurred on Shavu'ot, the end of the Sefirat HaOmer period, we can find the answer. On Shavu'ot, Hashem revealed Himself to the Bnei Yisrael on Har Sinai and gave the Jewish people their beloved Torah. After their redemption from Mitzrayim, Bnei Yisrael were free only in the physical sense, not the spiritual. When the moment finally arrived and they were freed from their 100-year slavery, the ultimate goal was still not yet reached. Only when we stood at Har Sinai and received the Ten Commandments, as well as the rest of the Torah, was our true goal reached. Why? Because without the Torah, we have no direction in life, no guiding light to tell us what is the right path and what is not.

Other nations may fight for freedom, and though this may be in their interest, but once they have vanquished the enemy, what direction are they to take for the future? Sometimes the answer is to create another dictatorship, and sometimes a healthy government forms.  But either way, these nations still lack the most essential element in life: the chance to learn from Hashem's wisdom and His Torah, and to understand the truth and meaning of existence. This explains why we count the days from Pesach until Shavu'ot, since the Torah is the source of all of our meaning, enjoyment, and understanding in life.  Just as a student anxiously anticipates and counts down the days until his last day of school, so too do we mark down each day until we receive the fabulous gift of the Torah.

As Shavu'ot approaches, we must continue anxiously awaiting this joyous occasion. Just as Bnei Yisrael were truly freed when they received Hashem’s Torah at Har Sinai, we will not be truly freed until we embrace the Torah as our nation’s special advantage. Only then will we really be able to truly understand the holiday of Shavu'ot and merit the third Beit HaMikdash to practice the Chag in its ultimate form.

Sefirat HaOmer and Matan Torah by Shimon Cohen

Pure and Simple by Rabbi Joel Grossman