STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
We are currently in the middle of the s'firah period, the 49 days between Passover and the upcoming holiday of Shavout. According to Jewish law, every Jew is obligated each evening to count the number of days that have elapsed since Passover.
We are currently in the middle of the s'firah period, the 49 days between Passover and the upcoming holiday of Shavout. According to Jewish law, every Jew is obligated each evening to count the number of days that have elapsed since Passover. Our rabbis teach us that there is a distinct connection between these two holidays. It is on Passover that the Jewish people escaped the grasps of their Egyptian taskmasters and finally experienced the euphoric feeling of freedom. Only seven weeks later, the Jewish nation stood unified at the foot of Mount Sinai, waiting expectantly to receive the Torah from Hashem. How is it that one moment the Jewish people are slaves, the most downtrodden creatures of the earth, and such a short time later they were spiritually able to actually hear the voice of Hashem and accept the best-selling book of all time?
The Kabbalists explain that the Jewish people, while enslaved in Egypt, had fallen to the 49th and lowest level of spirituality, into the squalid abyss of impurity. The lewd Egyptian environment, combined with the odiousness of slavery, relegated the Jewish people into this pit, this black hole of defilement. Therefore, as soon as they raced from the borders of Egypt leaving that horrid existence, the Jews had to literally pull themselves out of that state of spiritual decay. It would not take one day, nor would witnessing the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea suffice. Rather, it would be a seven week purification process until the Jewish people could be ready to accept the Torah from Hashem.
And so we count. With each passing day, the Jewish nation reached another level of holiness, climbing higher and higher. Today, as we draw nearer to the holiday of Shavout, we too are climbing a staircase. Each day as we count we become one step closer to achieving our goal. These 49 days are set aside for us to improve our weak character traits in order to create a vessel which is capable of receiving and housing the wealth that the Torah has to offer. It is our hope that on the climactic 50th day we will be ready and willing to re-experience that momentous occasion.
Benyamin Cohen, a native Atlantan and graduate of Yeshiva Atlanta, is editor of Torah from Dixie.
You are invited to read more Parshat Kedoshim articles.
Would you recommend this article to a friend? Let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org