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Saturday, May 25, 2019 20 Iyar 5779



Counting the Days
The days between Pesach and Shavuot are called Sefirat Haomer, the counting of the Omer. When the Jews left Egypt they knew they would soon receive the Torah on Mount Sinai, and counted the days in preparation. To commemorate this, we count the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot. The term “omer” derives from the omer offering of barley, which was brought on the second day of Pesach.
A countdown is a normal human response to an exciting event. When we look forward to something special, we count the remaining days to express our anticipation. However, when it comes to counting the Omer, there is an unusual feature. We don’t count down; we count up. Each night, we don’t say, “49 days left until the Torah is given; 48 days left until the Torah is given.” Instead, we say, “Today is the first day of the Omer. Today is the second day of the Omer.”
The emphasis on counting the days that have passed, rather than the days that remain, teach us the value of time. The Jews spent those seven weeks preparing to receive the Torah. Each day 1they ascended another rung on the ladder. They perfected another aspect of their character. They tried to make each day count, by filling it up with meaningful actions.
When we count the days that we have left, we can become filled with despair, thinking of how long the road still is before us; how much effort we still need to expend. When we count the time that has passed, we focus on the progress we have made, which fills us with a sense of hope and optimism.
* * *
We take a similar approach to a process that has been slowly unfolding over the course of our history--the future Redemption. For close to two thousand years we have been in exile, anxiously awaiting our liberation. The years went by, generation followed generation, and we are still waiting. We still are not free.
The greatest difficulty is that there is no set end date. Every day we wake up hoping that today, finally, we will see the long-awaited revelation of Moshiach. At night when we go to bed we are disappointed once again, yet still wake up the next morning with our hope renewed.
The counting of the Omer teaches us how to cope with our long wait. What’s important is not how many days we have left but the time that has passed. We need to think about all that we have accomplished in exile. Each day that passes is another day closer to the Redemption.
In our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe made the wait easier for us to bear. He prophesied that we are the final generation of exile and the first generation of redemption. We are now at the conclusion of our two-thousand year wait. The process is behind us, and if the Redemption is delayed for a few more minutes, G-d forbid, we know it will only be a short time relative to the time that’s passed.
Of course, we have no intention of waiting even one more minute. We want Moshiach now! But the counting of the Omer teaches us how to make this time count.

* * *


Shavuot is the second of the three major festivals and comes exactly 50 days after Passover. It marks the giving of the Torah by G-d to the entire Jewish people on Mount Sinai over 3300 years ago. 
Shavuot in Hebrew means "weeks" and stands for the seven weeks during which the Jewish people prepared themselves for the giving of the Torah. During this time they rid themselves of the scars of bondage and became a holy nation ready to stand before G-d. 
The giving of the Torah was far more than an historical event. It was a far-reaching spiritual event-one that touched the essence of the Jewish soul then and for all time. Our Sages have compared it to a wedding between G-d and the Jewish people. We became His special nation and He became our G-d. 
Each year, Shavuot is the special time for us to reawaken and strengthen our special relationship with G-d. We can do so by rededicating ourselves to the observance and study of the Torah-our most precious heritage. 
The Torah is composed of two parts: the written law and the oral law. The written Torah contains the Five Book of Moses, the Prophets and the Writings. Together with the written Torah, Moses was also given the oral law which explains and clarifies the written law. It was transmitted orally from generation to generation and eventually transcribed in the Talmud and Midrash. 
Throughout the generations our people have studied these works, commenting upon them, clarifying their meanings, deriving practical applications of these principles and codifying the laws derived from them. Thus, a continuous chain of tradition extends throughout the generations, connecting the scholars of the present day to the revelation at Mount Sinai. 
Everything that happens in our lives is a manifestation of G-d's wisdom, as expressed in His Torah. As such, Torah represents the very source of our vitality, and the key to the fulfilment of our deepest aspirations. 
The Revelation at Mount Sinai was a tumultuous awe-inspiring experience. The entire universe, our Sages say, trembled with the piercing sound of the ram's horn. Thunder and lightning filled the skies. Then-silence. Not a bird chirped. No creature spoke. The seas did not stir, as the voice was heard: "I am the L-rd your G-d ..." 
When G-d revealed Himself on Mount Sinai, our entire people heard his voice proclaiming the Ten Commandments. 
1) I am the L-rd your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt. 
2) You shall have no other gods before Me. 
3) Do not take the name of the L-rd your G-d in vain. 
4) Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. 
5) Honor your father and mother. 
6) Do not murder. 
7) Do not commit adultery. 
8) Do not steal. 
9) Do not bear false witness. 
10) Do not covet. 
These ten commands range from the highest and most refined concept of the belief in the oneness of G-d, to the most basic laws which every society has found it necessary to enforce such as not killing and not stealing. 
It is very important that each and every Jewish person, young and old, should try and attend a synagogue and hear ther reading of the Ten Commandments on the first day of the Shsvuot Holiday. 

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