Monday, May 21, 2012

Preparing for Kabalas HaTorah

Rav Zalman Sorotzkin, zt”l, offered a deep explanation of why we count the omer. “The first sefirah was after the Jewish people left Egypt. Its purpose was to purify the Jewish people from spiritual defilement so that they would be fit to receive the Torah. Kabbalists and the standard commentators both explain why we could not receive the Torah immediately after leaving Egypt. We first needed to count seven weeks to purify us from the defilement of Egypt. “But Hashem knew that we would fall into the sin of the golden calf soon after we received the Torah. He therefore commanded us to celebrate Pesach for all generations. The day after Pesach we are to bring the omer which is composed of animal feed. We then count forty-nine days and bring the two loaves which are food for humans on Shavuos. He explained, “We bring the omer to symbolize the first step of purity: recognizing in what manner we are still drawn after animal desires that compel us to act without understanding. We then begin to prepare ourselves to receive the Torah through deep contemplation and by rectifying our actions. Since the time we left Egypt, the days between Pesach and Shavuos have become a special period to fix negative character traits, attain purity and ascend to ever higher levels. Perhaps this is why, according to Rav Yochanan ben Nuri, the main judgment in Gehinom is between Pesach and Shavuos. Since this time is set aside for deep change it is also the time when souls are punished for failing to use this time properly. He concluded, “Chassidim and anshei mase live lives of completion; not one instant of their day is wasted. During this time even regular people work on themselves. We are adjured to recognize our lowliness and use these days for elevation. We count each day, considering how we have used our time and how many of these precious days remain until kabbalas haTorah. We must make a plan and set goals that we will work to attain during the remaining days so that we will be worthy of receiving the Torah.”

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