What is the reason for the mitzvah of sefiras ha’omer?
Well, sefiras ha’omer is a mitzvah di’oraisah and therefore I wouldn’t say that I know the reason. But I can tell you one of the things that we can learn from it.
We don’t count how many days it is until Matan Torah. That’s how we should do it. Forty-nine days till Matan Torah. Forty-eight days till Matan Torah. Forty-seven days. Less and less. But no, we don’t do that. We’re counting from the omer. One day from the omer. Two days from the omer. Three days from the omer. We count up, from the omer, until we get to Shavuos.
Why do we do that? Why don’t we count how many days are left until the great event of Matan Torah? That’s what we’re looking forward to, isn’t it?
The answer is that we’re looking backwards. We’re looking backwards at the korban omer. What is the omer saying? The omer tells us that Hakodosh Boruch Hu is giving us food. הזן ומפרנס לכל. He feeds the whole world. That’s the greatest of all things that He does in the world.
We say that קשה מזונותיו של אדם כקריעת ים סוף – The food of a person is as difficult as the splitting of the Yam Suf. Now, for who is it kasheh; for who is it difficult? People are making a living. Look, you’re making a living. You’re making a living, but you still can’t do Kriyas Yam Suf. So what it means, is that it is ‘difficult’ for Hashem. For Hashem, it is more of a neis to produce food than to do any other thing. That’s why, after all the other praises, after all the other nissim are mentioned, we come to food: גוזר ים סוף לגזרים כי לעולם חסדו – He drowned Pharaoh in the Yam Suf and we say כי לעולם חסדו. The Bnei Yisroel passed through the sea, כי לעולם חסדו, He led us through the wilderness, כי לעולם חסדו. And so on and so on. We go through a long list of nissim and then the last one, the grand finale is נותן לחם לכל בשר כי לעולם חסדו – You, Hashem, give food to all the living! That’s the biggest neis of all. That’s the climax! Because food is the biggest of all nissim that we see. L’chol basar! Hakodosh Boruch Hu is zan u’mifarneis the whole world! The Italians are eating sausages. The Irish are eating potatoes. The Americans are eating everything. The Jews are eating, l’havdil, whatever they eat. The whole world is eating. And birds are eating. And fish are eating. נותן לחם לכל בשר כי לעולם חסדו.
And therefore, how great is the opportunity of thanking Hashem for the food! And, the korban ha’omer is hakaras hatov for the food. So we say, “Hashem, You gave us food one day.” “Now, two days You’re giving us food.” “Now, it’s three days and You’re still giving us food.” Four days, food; five days, food. You’re giving us food one day after the next.
“We’re so happy that you’re feeding us, and if that’s the case we’re going to thank You by accepting the Torah at the end of those forty-nine days with a leiv shalem. Out of gratitude to You, because you’re זן ומפרנס לכל, that’s why we’re going to accept Your Torah with simcha and gratitude.”
And that’s why even though some people say that birchas hatorah is not di’oraisah, but everyone agrees that birchas hamazon is di’oraisah. Everyone says that. Because it’s so important to thank Hashem for food! And even if both are di’oraisah, but the food is so important. All day long, wherever you go, you see the miracle of food. You see the yad Hashem everywhere. When you pass by an Italian delicatessen and the Italians are eating their sausages, you look at them eating and you should praise Hashem. Say “נותן לחם לכל בשר כי לעולם חסדו.” Hashem is feeding the whole world all the time!
And if there is no kemach, there is no Torah. If you don’t feel a tangible hakaras hatov for the food that Hashem gives you, then you won’t really be accepting the Torah.
And therefore, the lechem that we celebrate at the omer gives us such an intense feeling of gratitude to Hashem. We’re so involved in the happiness and in the hakaras hatov of what He does for us – He feeds us! Every day! Every day! Every day! We’re counting the days, one day at a time, of Hashem feeding us. We’re so full of happiness and gratitude that when it comes to Shavuos, we are ready to accept the Torah with a full heart, with a leiv shalem. Now we’re ready for Kabolas Hatorah!
TAPE # E-183 (April 1999)