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COUNTDOWN

by Stuart W.    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"You shall count for yourselves. . .seven weeks, they shall be complete" (Leviticus 23:15).

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"You shall count for yourselves. . .seven weeks, they shall be complete" (Leviticus 23:15).

Included in its discussion of the festivals throughout the year, this week's Torah portion lists the mitzvah of Sefirat HaOmer, to count the days and weeks from the second day of Passover until the holiday of Shavuot. Let us raise a question on the nature of this mitzvah in which we are presently involved. We were just redeemed from Egypt on Passover, as Hashem brought us from slavery to freedom. At first glance, we would assume that this remarkable redemption was the ultimate goal, as Hashem saved us from our enemies while at the same time making His existence known to the world. Why, all of a sudden, after this great milestone has been reached, do we begin counting towards another event?

If we look at what took place on Shavuot, the culmination of the Sefirat HaOmer, we can find the answer. On Shavuot, Hashem revealed Himself on Mt. Sinai and gave the Jewish people His beloved Torah. When we left Egypt we were free in the physical sense, much like modern-day third-world nations which remove the yoke of a dictatorship from upon them. Finally the moment had arrived, and although it must have been an exhilarating feeling to be free from bondage, the ultimate goal had not yet been reached. Only when we stood at Mt. Sinai and received the Ten Commandments, as well as the rest of the Torah, was the pinnacle reached. Why? Because without the Torah, we have no real direction in life, no guiding light to instruct us what is the right path and what is not. Other nations may fight for nationalism and freedom, and this is all well and good, but once they have vanquished the enemy, what direction are they to take for the future? Unfortunately for them, sometimes the answer is to create another dictatorship. But even if it is not, they still lack the most essential element in life - the chance to learn Hashem's wisdom, His Torah, and come to understand the truth of existence. This explains why we count the days from Passover until Shavuot. For just as a school senior anxiously anticipates and counts down the days until his graduation, so too do we long for and mark down each day until we receive the Torah.

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