Seder Shel Sefirat HaOmer

Seder Shel Sefirat HaOmer

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By: Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman

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Seder Shel Sefiras Ha’Omer:A Means of Developing Awareness of  


Each year, we perform a unique Mitzva called Sefiras Ha’omer. Unlike many other Mitzvos, there are a lot of other things printed in the standard Siddur alongside the basic Bracha. Let’s understand what these different elements are. The first thing is the L’sheim Yichud. Let’s explain this. There are many prayers in the Siddur. The major ones were formulated by the Anshei Knesses Hagedola, meaning Ezra and his Beis Din. They made the Seder Ha’tefilla, with Shevach, Bakasha, and Hodaya, along with a Bracha Techila Vasof. Pesukei D’zimra, at least its basic framework, was established during that time as well. The Anshei Knesses Hagedola crafted the Tefilla in such a way that whether you understand what you’re saying or not it works. You should understand what the words mean, but the meditations and anything beyond that are not needed. The Jew who says the words of Tefilla properly, aware that he is standing before Hashem, changes the world. There is meaning in the words even if you don’t know what you’re saying. I’m emphasizing this because the L’sheim Yichud we say in the context of Sefiras Ha’omer that is not sourced the Gemara nor even the Geonim. It’s found in Talmidei Ha’Arizal. There are many Tefillos that originate with them. The fact that you say Ribbono Shel Olam on Yom Tov before you take out the Sefer Torah is because to them. Another example is the Yehi Ratzon that we say during the last part of Birkas Kohanim. Yet, because it’s not from the Anshei Knesses Hagedola, the prayer works to the extent that you understand what you’re saying. Some Poskim, like the Noda B’yehuda (Yoreh Deah Simon 93), argue that we should not say L’sheim Yichud because many people don’t know what they are saying. But it’s found in our Siddur, and many people today say it. But it’s only meaningful to the extent that you know what you’re saying. Let’s try to understand what it means. We start off saying . That means we are doing this Mitzva for the of , the Transcendent One, blessed be He, and His . What exactly does this mean? How does this Mitzva create a bond? Kadosh means transcendent. It means above 117 and beyond perception. When we say Kadosh Kadosh Kadosh, we’re saying that G-d is “beyond, beyond, and beyond” all reality. He’s the G-d who created logic, and therefore, by definition, he can’t be encompassed by logic. Bri’ch Hu comes from the word berech, knee. The knee comes down. We ask G-d to “come down.” We want the Transcendent One to be more in our lives. We wish for the Entity that is so far away to be so much closer. means the G-d that resides among us. What does that mean? In simple terms, use your own experiences as metaphors. As much as people know or have an image of you, you are ultimately the only one who knows there is more. There is some part of you that no one has touched yet. Maybe when you meet the right girl, you’ll share a greater part of that inner self, and someone else at least will know there is more to you. Every person has something more than what he projects. Every person projects those images in different ways in different places. It can be expressed depending on if it you are in the role of teacher, friend, parent, etc. But there is always more. Beyond what you consciously are aware of, there are levels of consciousness you don’t even know about, too deep articulate or experience. As life continues, you will become more and more aware of those parts of you that are hidden deep down. Life is all about discovering that. In other words, the term “you” has many dimensions. There’s you in the social reality, and then there’s you as in the pure and pristine, never previously touched. It’s all “you,” but experienced in different settings and contexts. Shechina is the idea of the Infinite G-d who resides among us. . The Shechina is Shochein, resides in our midst. When we say L’sheim Yichud, we are asking for G-d to allow us through this act to make a union between the aspect of G-d as the Infinite G-d, Who is incomprehensible, and the aspect of G-d Who dwells with us, Whom we feel is present. We’re saying, “I wish for a deeper connection of Infinity in my finite, logical, and tangible existence.” It’s saying that you want more of this feeling of the Infinite G-d in your finite world. That’s beautiful. That’s all we’re asking for. . These words very difficult to actualize. means awe, and means love. Again, this Tefilla was not formulated by the Anshei Knesses Hagedola. If you can’t mean what you say, don’t fake it. At least say that you want to reach this level. The idea of doing things out of love doesn’t mean you’re doing it all glassy-eyed. It means you’re thirsty to know more and get closer. Each of us can get that, at his own level. 118 . This union connects these two names: the yud and heh with the vav and heh. What does this mean? When we talk about the name of G-d, the letters used to write the name symbolize this idea very well. Yud, the smallest letter, denotes the beginning. The beginning of a line is a dot. Any existence exists initially as a dot. Afterwards, it extends into lines with dimensions. But it all starts with a point. Yud is that mathematical point. Then we have a heh. the letter heh has a daled surrounding a yud. daled is four, connoting four sides, like the four walls of a house. The ,the initial point of existence, now has form. The raw idea, the Chochma, now has some flesh to it, also known as Bina. After you have developed the form, you can now translate that into an interactive Mida. This is a vav. The vav is a hook; it’s the connecting letter. The vav ha’chibur connects two entities together. The is now extended and translated. The idea became a perception, and now it’s becoming translated into a reality in terms of how you interact. The Rambam doesn’t call character traits Middos. He calls them Dei’os. Middos are nothing more than the external expression of a perception. Yud and heh are the intellectual parts. You think it and formulate it. Then the connects it to the real world to take on a new form, the final heh. You now act. The Shela writes that the name of Hashem has the letters heh-vav-heh. Mehaveh means to bring into being. Yud added to the beginning denotes something that is ongoing and constant. This name of Hashem, then, refers to Him as the Ongoing, Constant Source of reality. Now, reality has two forms. There is the intellectual reality, the ideas. Then there is G-d of the world we see. We live in a world of vav-heh. We see a nice world. But how much of the ideas of G-d do we see in the world? How much of the dreams of the architect do you see when you see the building? Or do you just see a building? Do you see the yud-heh along with the vav-heh reality, or have you divorced reality from what G-d really wants it to be? When we talk about seeing the Artist in the picture, the Author in the book, we mean connecting the yud-heh with the vav-heh. Then we say , in a full union. What is this adding? There are marriages that are sporadic. Sometimes they’re on, and sometimes they’re off. Sometimes, we see G-d in the sunset, and some days, we’re thinking of other things. What we are saying here is that we don’t just want to connect the transcendent G-d reality, but that we want the connection to be constant. Mitzvos create a constant atmosphere. Rav Chaim Volozhiner would tell his students that if one is lax in his learning, someone is lighting a cigarette in Paris on Shabbos. Everything we do has a ripple effect 119 on the entire world. We’re not aware of what we do. Our capacity to change the climate of the broader community in terms of G-d-awareness is quite incredible. That’s what we’re saying. I think the last three words are the most poignant. It says , that we do this in the name of all Jews. We usually assume that the Mitzvos we perform are private. It’s my Mitzva, my individual obligation. What does it mean to do the Mitzva on behalf of the community? What we’re saying is in fact something quite profound. At the level of Mitzva, it’s very personal. But the capability you have, through your Mitzvos, to connect yud-heh to vav-heh, to change the climate of this world and infuse it with more G-d-awareness, is not because of who you are as an individual, but rather because we all are part of a nation. It’s Klal Yisrael that changes the world, and each of us is a member of that community. We do Mitzvos because G-d told us to do them. It’s Kabbalas Ol. But the aspect of the Mitzva that creates a greater awareness of G-d we do as representatives of the nation. G-d-awareness comes out via a national awareness. The Arizal writes that you should start your day by saying, . It’s only through the mass that there is a big change. That’s why prayer is in the plural. It’s like the Ba’al Hatanya writes that the way one fulfills the Mitzva of V’ahavta L’reiacha Kamocha is by seeing himself as part of the body known as Klal Yisrael, and all Jews are part of that unit. It’s all one identity that is expressed in multiple ways. That’s a Tzibbur. Then we say . The word Muchan means prepared, and Mezuman means set aside. There is a difference. Prepared means I’m willing to do it. Set aside means I am not doing it just because I have to. I stopped doing anything else and am focused. This prayer, as you can see, has a critical function in the performance of the Mitzva. The first sentence deals with connecting oneself with Klal Yisrael and aspiring for the goal of Yichud Sheim Hashem. The second sentence has a completely different purpose. We are now preparing and focusing. It’s a very powerful thing. We are now stopping and focusing. . This has Halachic problems. Many Rishonim hold that since we don’t have the Korban Ha’omer, the Mitzva of counting can’t be activated. That’s why the Ramban (Kiddushin 33b s.v. Eizehu) writes that women are obligated in the Mitzva, since it’s not dependent on time, but rather on the Korban. So, if the Mitzva nowadays is only rabbinic, seemingly we can’t say, “I’m doing the Mitzva as is written in the Torah.” Those who authored this Tefilla obviously follow view of the Rambam that Sefiras Ha’omer is an independent Mitzva that applies even absent 120 the Korban. The Klausenberger Rebbe suggested to not say the words and rather say just without the word , and then to say to avoid the issue. ” . The pleasure of the Presence of G-d should be upon us. Let our actions be established upon us. And let our actions establish it.” What does this mean? You say this quite often, every Motza’i Shabbos. What is the “it” in this Pasuk? And what’s the connection to what we said before? The source of this prayer is found in Rashi (Vayikra 9:23), who writes that when the Mishkan was being inaugurated, Moshe prayed these words, asking that the Mishkan be meaningful. He prayed for the external edifice to embody, genuinely, Hashra’as Hashechina. Let the fruit of our labor establish that Presence of G-d upon us. The building that we just made for You, our labor, should establish on it the pleasantness of the Presence of G-d. We are praying that our work should establish G-dliness in us via the Mikdash. The obvious question is what it is doing here and on Motza’ei Shabbos. The Rishonim write that we recite this prayer as we start our week and return to the workforce. We pray that the fruits of our labor should create this Noam Hashem, a sense of spirituality, in us. The actions themselves become the seat of Hashra’as Hashechina, G-d- awareness. I want my daily interactions with the people in the office to be a source of being aware of G-d. It’s not just in shul, yeshiva, etc. I want to extend this into my week. But what does this have to do with Sefiras Ha’omer specifically? ,say we, performeed is Mitzva the After . Why do we say this? It’s because the Mitzva doesn’t exist on a Torah level without the Korban Ha’omer in the Beis Hamikdash, like we explained earlier. The reason we count nowadays is to remember that once there was a Beis Hamikdash and a Mitzva of Sefiras Ha’omer. We use this Mitzva to remind ourselves of what once was, and we are dying to have the real thing. It’s similar to the Koreich we eat during the Seder. The Halacha doesn’t require that we need to eat the sandwich; rather, it reminds us of the Beis Mikdash. It seems that the Mitzva of Sefiras Ha’omer nowadays is connected to the Beis Hamikdash. a This is something unique, because later on in the liturgy, we say Ana B’koach, a Tefilla written by Rabbi Nechunya Ben Hakaneh. He was the author of a major kabalistic work that the Ramban sometimes cites in his commentary on Chumash. If you look at this tefilla, you’ll notice that there are abbreviations on each line of the first letters in each word. Those lines represent the names of Hashem. These names are expressed in this poem with specific expressions of G-d. When 121 do we find this prayer? We say it after Korbanos at Shacharis, Kabbalas Shabbos, and Sefiras Ha’omer. There is a common denominator between all these three instances. When we say Korbanos in the morning, we fulfill a Mitzva called . It’s a pseudo-kiyum of Hakravas Korbanos. Although most people are not Kohanim, it’s an attempt at , , an attempt to recapture the experience of the Beis Hamikdash. At that point, we say Ana B’koach. It seems that Ana B’koach comes in conjunction with a need to remember the Beis Hamikdash. On Friday night, we recite several chapters of Tehillim, and then we say Ana B’koach, coinciding with the onset of Shabbos. What’s the relationship between Ana B’koach and Shabbos? The answer is that the Behag and the Yerei’im write that there is a Mitzva called Mora Shabbos, to have a certain sense of awe of Shabbos. What is there to be fearful of? And what is the source for this Mitzva? The Pasuk says, , to guard Shabbos and have awe of the Beis Hamikdash (Vayikra 19:30). Rashi explains that the juxtaposition indicates that building the Beis Hamikdash does not override Shabbos. The Ramban, however, writes that the connection is that just like there is a Mikdash in place, so too there is a Mikdash in time. The Mikdash in place is found in Yerushalayim, and the Mikdash in time is found on Shabbos. Mikdashi Ti’rau doesn’t just refer to the Mikdash of place, but also to the Mikdash of time. You must have awe of the Shabbos. It’s saying that if you have a conflict between the Mikdash of place and the Mikdash of time, the Mikdash of time takes precedence. The term Mikdash refers to a place or time that is conducive to walking away from the confines of the finite world and trying to focus on what’s real and transcendent. It is a place of meditation and focus, the way the Rambam describes it in Moreh Nevuchim. The word Kadosh means transcendent, beyond the mundane. Mikdash therefore means is the place for that reality. It’s a place where one can think about what is found in the Luchos inside the Aron, finding a deeper connection with Hashem what He means to you. It’s a place to stop the world and to think about where you are coming from and where you are going. All the Korbanos are metaphors and symbols for this idea, and if you are attuned to the culture that embodies these symbols, you’ll have a heightened connection to all of this. To do that, you need to be able to hear the rhythm behind the music. Shabbos is a time you can use to read a novel and eat a hardy meal. But it’s also a time that is for something else, for man to walk away from his creativity and to go into his own cocoon. 122 Throughout life, man is running all around. But then comes Shabbos and he must stop. He can assess what happened this past week and how it adds up and how he can create another week. It’s a day of relaxing from the hustle. The Zohar writes that Shabbos is the source for the rest of the week. Shabbos can be a day when you can focus on life. Where am I coming from? Where am I going? If you don’t have the answers it’s fine, but at least ask the questions. That’s a Mikdash. It’s the framework that is conducive for that. When you go in front of the Mikdash, you are supposed to stand in awe. In awe of what? A building? No. You’re standing in awe of the accumulation of ideas and historical feelings there. You go to Poland and see Auschwitz. You stand in awe of it because of what it means to you. The Beis Hamikdash is not just a hut. It’s a place laden with meaning for our cultural identity. That climax of awareness expresses itself in awe. You stand in awe of the G-d Whom you can connect with in the Mikdash. That’s the Mitzva of Mora Mikdash. It’s connecting to the spirituality that you can achieve in that location. On Shabbos, it’s the same thing. You must so intensely realize that Shabbos is a window of opportunity in which you can connect to certain spiritual awareness that you stand in awe of that fact. It’s the culmination of all that is Shabbos. In that context we recite Ana B’koach in conjunction with a Mikdash experience. And that’s exactly what Sefiras Ha’omer is. We know that the Mitzva is not on a Torah level. We are only doing it to recapture the experience of how it was done when the Mikdash was present. In connecting to that presence, we must recite Ana B’koach. And that’s the V’hi Noam as well – it’s about reconnecting with that presence of G-d that could be experienced through the vehicle of the Mikdash We then say L’minatzi’ach. If you look in some shuls, you’ll see this Mizmor in the form of a Menora. There are six branches corresponding to the six Pesukim (excluding the first, which is the introduction), three on each side. It’s interesting that verses 3 and 4 in this setup contain the same words. If you look at the Pesukim themselves, it looks like there are two separate themes in â is one number Prayer . on converging both, chapter this N â to lead will That . N - N s’it Then . N . That’s the first prayer. We ask G-d to bless us, to give us understanding. Understanding in what? . It’s to understand the mass of history that occurred in Israel. We want to figure out how everything fits in. But why do we want it? . We want the world to admit G-d is right and thank Him for that. 123 .prayer next the comes Then . We want Hashem to “come down,” to increase recognition of Him in this world. We want to see Him in nature, in our lives. When I look at science, history, and all the various disciplines in life, I want to see Him. I want to train my mind to develop a perspective of G-dawareness. You stand in awe of the perfect and precise system of reality. Then it’s again N . â N , The first prayer is a request to have a grasp of history and understand it to admit and thank G-d for it. It’s not enough to acknowledge G-d as the Orchestrator of history; we want to see that it was something so good that we will thank Him for everything that happened. Today, we can’t do that. We don’t see the full picture. But eventually, we will. The second prayer is a request to generate an awareness for G-d in the world we live in. One deals with the chaos of history, and the other deals with the incredible order of science. Both prayers ask of G-d to allow us understand, and both prayers ask for . This is the purpose of existence. The Ramban at the end of Parshas Bo writes that the goal is - . You need to know and internalize the fact that G-d created me to the extent that you will thank Him for it. That’s what all of creation is for. It’s to generate a consciousness that we are here for a super-reason, and we live our lives with that purpose in mind. But the focus is not just the Jews. It’s also . It’s a universal call for G-d-awareness. The Jews might be the vehicle that allows for this awareness to come to fruition, but it’s is a global reality. ,passuk single a with converge prayers two These . When we finally acknowledge this reality, we will be very happy. There is a goal in all of this. It’s not just to be aware. It’s actually to feel an enormous sense of joy. The goal is not just to know. G-d wants the knowledge to be so vivid and real that it should cause an emotional reaction of happiness. That’s the goal. Again, this is for the entire world. It’s a universal reality. Why is everyone happy? . The pain and sadness of Tzadik V’ra Lo Rasha V’tov Lo, things that life is full of, brings man down. Man has Yisurin in life. For whatever reason, it’s part of His plan. Man wants to see his life making sense. At the end of history, we finally will see the pattern and form in history. People are unhappy when there is confusion. Only in hindsight, at the end, will man see how everything fits and was needed. What does Sefiras Ha’omer contain that opens us up to the quest for knowledge of these two things? Obviously, it has to do with this time between Pesach and Shavuos. The Ramban 124 writes that this period is like the Chol Ha’moed between the seven days of Pesach and the last day of Shavuos, the Atzeres. The term Atzeres means to hold back and stop. It’s a time to think and internalize those experiences that one gained on the Yom Tov. Shavuos is the internalization of whatever we gained on Pesach. Pesach is the means towards the end of . Kabbalas Hatorah is the goal. During that in-between period there is some Kedushas Hazman. It’s during this time that we are to work on these themes, to try to see G-d in history and experience Him in the natural phenomena we see. I want to see the Author in the book. Why? Because I want to be happy, and there’s an inherent value of being happy with Hashem. The more you understand, the more you’ll be happy. This is the goal of Torah and Mitzvos. They are means of heightening our awareness of Hashem

Shiur ID: 8899

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Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
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Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
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Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
Rav Menachem Mendel Blachman
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Rav Kalman Ber
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Rav Benny Eisner
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Rav Netanel Berkovitz
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Rav Mordechai Greenberg <br> Nasi Hayeshiva
Rav Mordechai Greenberg
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Rav Mordechai Greenberg <br> Nasi Hayeshiva
Rav Mordechai Greenberg
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