I received this excellent essay from a friend of mine. As a way of giving more meaning to the counting of the Omer, I thought I would pass it on you my dear readers. Enjoy and internalize its very profound message in these days of needing Teshuvah.
Omer: April 24-June 11, 5776/ 2016
© 2016 Rabbi Yonasan Beitz: Torah, Chassidus, and Inclusion
The Torah tells us that the days of the Omer were counted when the Jewish people left Egypt. They were very excited to know that after counting these 50 days they would be receiving the Torah. Mt Sinai was located in the Sinai Peninsula and the journey to this area normally would have only taken a few days. Why did the children of Israel have to count 50 days before receiving the Torah? Couldn’t they have prepared themselves in a shorter amount of time?
The Jewish people left Egypt in great haste because they were at such a low point in their spirituality and their connection to Hashem that, had they been in Egypt for a moment longer they might not have been able, G-d forbid, to be extricated. With the Egyptian culture and the worship of exotic gods being so compelling and the slavery so harsh, it would have been nearly impossible to exit this bondage in a natural way.
Hashem Himself had to descend to Egypt to take the children of Israel out because any messenger would have been overwhelmed by the coarse existence of the Egyptians. Some of the Jews even left carrying idols but, had they waited further to destroy their idols, they might not have gotten out.
Chassidus discusses emotional dynamics. We have seven major emotional traits. These traits or emotional qualities are 1) kindness, 2) discipline, 3) compassion, 4) perseverance, 5) humility, 6) connection, and 7) nobility. These qualities are the substance of forming a relationship and are links which bind relationships together. With the movement of the Jewish people in Sinai towards a higher and much more refined relationship with Hashem, they could no longer utilize their tainted ways. To reach the refinement necessary each individual trait needed to be thoroughly and systematically purged of any trace of impurity within each individual.
An example of this process could be a dirty and foul smelling cup. A strong and powerful cleaning solution is used to remove the muck from a dirty cup. Yet it still has faint traces of a bad odor and so a pleasant smelling detergent is needed to clean and make it useful for drinking. The muck that was on the cup corresponds to ones’ vulgar vocabulary and, in this example, the bad smell can be related to the manner in which the words are expressed, i.e. how the person comes across and is perceived. A criminal who needs rehabilitation can be easily transformed into a gentleman by giving him lessons in royal speech etiquette. However, he will still have inner roguish feelings which will eventually come out. As we will see, not only did the vocabulary of the Jewish people need to be changed but the style of expression also needed to be changed.
After the food which the Jewish people had taken with them from Egypt was consumed they complained by saying “Why did you bring us into the desert in order to kill us?!” These harsh words reflected their inner distrust of Hashem and their leader Moshe. Day after day Hashem continued to cause the manna to descend, even tailored for their individual taste and quantity. This steadfast faithfulness of Hashem towards His children fostered a quantum leap in trust and perspective with the children of Israel. Humility and acceptance of the ways of Hashem brought them to the level of total nullification, an essential ingredient for receiving the Torah. With the Jewish people mightily declaring “We will do and then we will understand” the vocabulary and the intentions were changed becoming unified.I thank Rabbi Beitz for this very inspiring essay. The more important aspect is that is fit into my dot connecting efforts to figure out more about Moshiach – why are we having to wait so long and when will he finally be introduced.
We have more control over our actions (speaking is considered a small action) than of our emotions. In order to synchronize ones’ intentions with ones’ behavior it must be realized that first a behavior pattern (i.e. speech) should be changed and this then leads to a change of intention. Becoming proficient and knowledgeable in this refinement process leads the practitioners of inclusion to be very influential and efficient in the world. The refinement of the seven emotional traits causes a fertile breeding ground for inclusion of one’s self with other people and the community at large.
With the counting of the days of the Omer our good behaviors will be streamlined with our good intentions. This unity will cause the coming of Moshiach and the giving of the new Torah to the Jewish people, soon in our day.
Tomorrow I will give you some answers that you may find very interesting, but more so some very definite information about you and your efforts to bring Moshiach and solve all the world’s problems. See you tomorrow, B”N.