Sunday, May 11, 2008

Spirit of the Law: Sefiras Haomer IV

4) “Before one counts, one should know what that day is so that his brochah is said with the proper day’s number in mind. If one did not know the number during his brochah, he nevertheless discharges his obligation. One who counted the wrong day by saying today is five days instead of six and does not correct this cannot count sefirah with a brochah for the remainder of that year's sefirah.”

The Sefas Emes, zt”l, writes that one merits to receive the Torah on Shavuos in accordance with one’s yearning for it during Sefiras HaOmer.

Rav Pinchas of Koritz, zt”l, said that although the word “sefirah” means “to count,” it also means “to shine.” Through fulfilling the mitzvah of couting sefirah, one merits to do teshuvah which causes one to shine with supernal light. The Maggid of Kozhnitz, zt”l, says similarly that the days of sefirah “shine into” or shed light on all the places in ourselves that we need to correct.

When we say a brochah it is only a tikkun inasmuch as we focus on what it really means and on what we are about to do. Rav Wolbe, zt”l, brings the Ramchal who says that in accordance to how much we recognize Hashem, to that degree does He bestow His blessing on the world. The ha’aras panim or “shining countenance” of Hashem graces the world. One who does not recognize Hashem in the world and acts as though He is absent draws the opposite, a “darkened countenance,” and invites the opposite of abundance, G-d forbid.

One who makes a brochah with intense concentration (or some degree of focus, at the very least) draws Hashem’s shining countenance into the world. One who tosses off brochos without considering what he is saying does the opposite. This is all the more true of the mitzvah of sefiras ha’omer which is predicated on yearning for Hashem through the counting! The more we are yearning for the Torah, the more we will grasp of it on Shavuos. This doesn’t only mean how much content we will learn, but how much connection with Hashem one will experience in fulfilling the Torah’s mitzvos. One who doesn’t know which day it is when he makes the brochah has failed to embody the most basic element of the brochah, and according to Rashi the blessing is invalid. Although post-facto we do not follow Rashi’s opinion, the halachah is that one should be careful from the outset to fulfill Rashi’s condition. How can we illuminate our souls with the sefirah if we don’t even know what night it is when we make the blessing? This is an easy task. Just check the day’s number before making the brochah.

One who counted the wrong day didn’t do the mitzvah at all and this is like skipping a day. If a person is careless with the day, it is likely that skipping one doesn’t worry him too badly! If, however, one stood to win or lose a large sum if he counted all the days, I highly doubt that he would get confused at all. It would be important to him, and he would act accordingly. We must try and internalize the fact that every mitzvah is worth far more than mere money!

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