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Emor / Pesach / Sefiras HaOmer / Shavuos - Transforming From Animal Into Godly

In this shiur, delivered in Tomer Devorah, Rav Burg explains (based on a Sicha from the Lubavitcher Rebbe zt"l) the three step process of moving from Pesach into Sefiras HaOmer and ultimately Shavuos. Each step in the process is another level of engagement with our animal soul. Initially we suppress or animal soul, then we sublimate it and on the highest level it becomes a vehicle for Godliness in this world.

Sources quoted below.

Emor / Sefiras HaOmer / Shavuos  Transformation from Animal to Godly

Leviticus 23:15

(15) And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete:

ויקרא כ״ג:ט״ו

(טו) וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמׇּחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹ֖מֶר הַתְּנוּפָ֑ה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּת֖וֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּהְיֶֽינָה׃

מתמניא ביה ועד סוף מועדא איתותב חגא דשבועיא דלא למספד שהיו בייתוסין אומרים עצרת אחר השבת

From the eighth of Nisan until the end of the festival of Passover, the correct date for the festival of Shavuot was restored, and it was similarly decreed not to eulogize during this period. As the Boethusians would say that the festival of Shavuot always occurs after Shabbat, on a Sunday. Their reasoning was that the verse states, with regard to the omer offering and the festival of Shavuot that follows seven weeks later: “And you shall count for you from the morrow after the day of rest [hashabbat], from the day that you brought the sheaf [omer] of the waving; seven weeks shall there be complete” (Leviticus 23:15). Disregarding the oral tradition, the Boethusians interpreted the phrase “from the morrow after the day of rest [hashabbat]” literally, as referring to Shabbat, not the Festival day.

Question - Why did the Torah leave room for error? Why not write explicitly "the day after Pesach"?

The purpose of Yetzias Mitzrayim is the giving of the Torah as the Passuk states explicitly:

Exodus 3:12

(12) And [God] said, “I will be with you; that shall be your sign that it was I who sent you. And when you have freed the people from Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

שמות ג׳:י״ב

(יב) וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ כִּֽי־אֶֽהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֔ךְ וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת כִּ֥י אָנֹכִ֖י שְׁלַחְתִּ֑יךָ בְּהוֹצִֽיאֲךָ֤ אֶת־הָעָם֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם תַּֽעַבְדוּן֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים עַ֖ל הָהָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃

The process of Matan Torah is a three month process of redemption. All three months are mentioned in the Torah because each month is critical to the process.

Nissan: When the Geula took place.

Iyar: The counting of the Omer.

Sivan: The giving of the Torah.

Exodus 23:15

You shall observe the Feast of Matzos eating unleavened bread for seven days as I have commanded you at the set time in the month of Aviv, for in it you went forth from Egypt; and none shall appear before Me empty-handed;

שמות כ״ג:ט״ו

(טו) אֶת־חַ֣ג הַמַּצּוֹת֮ תִּשְׁמֹר֒ שִׁבְעַ֣ת יָמִים֩ תֹּאכַ֨ל מַצּ֜וֹת כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוִּיתִ֗ךָ לְמוֹעֵד֙ חֹ֣דֶשׁ הָֽאָבִ֔יב כִּי־ב֖וֹ יָצָ֣אתָ מִמִּצְרָ֑יִם וְלֹא־יֵרָא֥וּ פָנַ֖י רֵיקָֽם׃

Numbers 1:1

(1) On the first day of the second month, in the second year following the exodus from the land of Egypt, יהוה spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, saying:

במדבר א׳:א׳

(א) וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר יְהֹוָ֧ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֛ה בְּמִדְבַּ֥ר סִינַ֖י בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד בְּאֶחָד֩ לַחֹ֨דֶשׁ הַשֵּׁנִ֜י בַּשָּׁנָ֣ה הַשֵּׁנִ֗ית לְצֵאתָ֛ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרַ֖יִם לֵאמֹֽר׃

Exodus 19:1

(1) On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone forth from the land of Egypt, on that very day, they entered the wilderness of Sinai.

שמות י״ט:א׳

(א) בַּחֹ֙דֶשׁ֙ הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֔י לְצֵ֥את בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם בַּיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה בָּ֖אוּ מִדְבַּ֥ר סִינָֽי׃

Three kinds of food:

Pesach: Matzah

Omer: Barley

Shavuos: Shtei HaLechem

Sotah 14a:14

All other meal-offerings require oil and frankincense, and this one requires neither oil nor frankincense. Furthermore, all other meal-offerings are brought from wheat, and this one is brought from barley. Although in fact the omer meal-offering is also brought from barley, it is still different in that it was brought as groats, i.e., high-quality meal. The meal-offering of the sota, however, is brought as unsifted barley flour. Rabban Gamliel says: This hints that just as her actions of seclusion with another man were the actions of an animal, so too her offering is animal food, i.e., barley and not wheat.

סוטה י״ד א:י״ד

כׇּל הַמְּנָחוֹת טְעוּנוֹת שֶׁמֶן וּלְבוֹנָה, וְזוֹ אֵינָהּ טְעוּנָה לֹא שֶׁמֶן וְלֹא לְבוֹנָה. כׇּל הַמְּנָחוֹת בָּאוֹת מִן הַחִטִּין, וְזוֹ בָּאָה מִן הַשְּׂעוֹרִין. מִנְחַת הָעוֹמֶר, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבָּאָה מִן הַשְּׂעוֹרִין — הִיא הָיְתָה בָּאָה גֶּרֶשׂ, וְזוֹ בָּאָה קֶמַח. רַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל אוֹמֵר: כְּשֵׁם שֶׁמַּעֲשֶׂיהָ מַעֲשֵׂה בְּהֵמָה, כָּךְ קׇרְבָּנָהּ מַאֲכַל בְּהֵמָה.

Question: All Korbanos are comprised of wheat except for the Omer and the Sotah which are comprised of barley. The Sotah is because she behaved like an animal so the Korban is made of animal food. What about the Korban Omer?

רַבִּי אָלֶכְּסַנְדְרִי בָּתַר צְלוֹתֵיהּ אָמַר הָכִי: ״יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ, שֶׁתַּעֲמִידֵנוּ בְּקֶרֶן אוֹרָה, וְאַל תַּעֲמִידֵנוּ בְּקֶרֶן חֲשֵׁכָה, וְאַל יִדְוֶה לִבֵּנוּ, וְאַל יֶחְשְׁכוּ עֵינֵינוּ״. אִיכָּא דְאָמְרִי, הָא רַב הַמְנוּנָא מְצַלֵּי לַהּ. וְרַבִּי אָלֶכְּסַנְדְרִי בָּתַר דִּמְצַלֵּי אָמַר הָכִי: ״רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים, גָּלוּי וְיָדוּעַ לְפָנֶיךָ שֶׁרְצוֹנֵנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנֶךָ, וּמִי מְעַכֵּב? — שְׂאוֹר שֶׁבָּעִיסָּה וְשִׁעְבּוּד מַלְכֻיוֹת. יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ שֶׁתַּצִּילֵנוּ מִיָּדָם, וְנָשׁוּב לַעֲשׂוֹת חוּקֵּי רְצוֹנְךָ בְּלֵבָב שָׁלֵם״.

After his prayer, Rabbi Alexandri said the following: May it be Your will, Lord our God, that You station us in a lighted corner and not in a darkened corner, and do not let our hearts become faint nor our eyes dim. Some say that this was the prayer that Rav Hamnuna would recite, and that after Rabbi Alexandri prayed, he would say the following: Master of the Universe, it is revealed and known before You that our will is to perform Your will, and what prevents us? On the one hand, the yeast in the dough, the evil inclination that is within every person; and the subjugation to the kingdoms on the other. May it be Your will that You will deliver us from their hands, of both the evil inclination and the foreign kingdoms, so that we may return to perform the edicts of Your will with a perfect heart.

Question: On Pesach we don't eat bread because it symbolizes arrogance. Why then are we allowed to eat bread the rest of the year? Why then do we have the Shtei HaLechem on Shavuos?

Song of Songs 1:4

(4) Draw me after you, let us run!The king has brought me to his chambers. Let us delight and rejoice in your love, Savoring it more than wine. Like new wine they love you!

שיר השירים א׳:ד׳

 (ד) מׇשְׁכֵ֖נִי אַחֲרֶ֣יךָ נָּר֑וּצָה הֱבִיאַ֨נִי הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ חֲדָרָ֗יו נָגִ֤ילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה֙ בָּ֔ךְ נַזְכִּ֤ירָה דֹדֶ֙יךָ֙ מִיַּ֔יִן מֵישָׁרִ֖ים אֲהֵבֽוּךָ׃ {פ}


Three stages:

1. מׇשְׁכֵ֖נִי אַחֲרֶ֣יךָ - Yetzias Mitzrayim

2. נָּר֑וּצָה - counting of the Omer

3. הֱבִיאַ֨נִי הַמֶּ֜לֶךְ חֲדָרָ֗יו - Matan Torah

מׇשְׁכֵ֖נִי אַחֲרֶ֣יךָ (draw me) is passive and singular whereas נָּר֑וּצָה (we will run) is active and plural.


Zohar - In Mitzrayim Klal Yisrael was unworthy and unprepared for redemption therefore the Geula did not change them inwardly. 


מׇשְׁכֵ֖נִי אַחֲרֶ֣יךָ:

1. They simply changed hands from Pharoah to Hashem. Hashem took possession of Klal Yisrael but nothing essentially changed.

2. Klal Yisrael was passive in the process,

3. Singular - The Nefesh Elokis received the revelation but the Nefesh HaBehamis remained in its natural state. It only impacted one aspect (Godly soul) of their being and not the other (animal soul).

Berakhot 54a

With all your heart” means with your two inclinations, with your good inclination and your evil inclination, both of which must be subjugated to the love of God. 

ברכות נ״ד א

״בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ״ — בִּשְׁנֵי יְצָרֶיךָ, בְּיֵצֶר טוֹב וּבְיֵצֶר הָרָע.

Chizkuni, Deuteronomy 6:5

(1) בכל לבבך, “with all your heart;” according to Rashi, the reason that the word is written with two successive letters ב is that G-d wishes to be loved even by our “evil urge,” not only by our urge to do good. After all, we each only have one heart so it should have been spelled לבך.

חזקוני, דברים ו׳:ה׳

(א) בכל לבבך פרש״‎י בשני יצריך פי׳‎ לבך לא מצי למקרי אלא חד אבל לבבך מצי למקרי לבביך שני לבבות.  

Proverbs 14:4

(4) If there are no oxen the crib is clean, But a rich harvest comes through the strength of the ox.

משלי י״ד:ד׳

(ד) בְּאֵ֣ין אֲ֭לָפִים אֵב֣וּס בָּ֑ר וְרׇב־תְּ֝בוּא֗וֹת בְּכֹ֣חַ שֽׁוֹר׃

The Nefesh Elokis is rational but dispassionate whereas the animal soul is passionate but irrational. When the animal soul is sublimated to the Godly soul the passion of the animal soul is harnessed by the Godly soul and becomes part of its holiness.


The barley offering of the Omer is to sublimate the animal soul (that had been unaffected during Yetzias Mitzrayim) to the Godly soul. 


נָּר֑וּצָה: (we will run) is active and plural.

Plural - both Nefesh HaBehamis and Nefesh Elokis

Active - energized by the passion of the Nefesh HaBehamis

Shabbat 88b:6

And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: From each and every utterance that emerged from the mouth of the Holy One, Blessed be He, the souls of the Jewish people left their bodies, as it is stated: “My soul departed when he spoke” (Song of Songs 5:6). And since their souls left their bodies from the first utterance, how did they receive the second utterance? Rather, God rained the dew upon them that, in the future, will revive the dead, and He revived them, as it is stated: “You, God, poured down a bountiful rain; when Your inheritance was weary You sustained it” (Psalms 68:10).

שבת פ״ח ב:ו׳

וְאָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי: כׇּל דִּיבּוּר וְדִיבּוּר שֶׁיָּצָא מִפִּי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא יָצְתָה נִשְׁמָתָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״נַפְשִׁי יָצְאָה בְדַבְּרוֹ״. וּמֵאַחַר שֶׁמִּדִּיבּוּר רִאשׁוֹן יָצְתָה נִשְׁמָתָן, דִּיבּוּר שֵׁנִי הֵיאַךְ קִיבְּלוּ? — הוֹרִיד טַל שֶׁעָתִיד לְהַחֲיוֹת בּוֹ מֵתִים וְהֶחְיָה אוֹתָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״גֶּשֶׁם נְדָבוֹת תָּנִיף אֱלֹהִים נַחֲלָתְךָ וְנִלְאָה אַתָּה כוֹנַנְתָּהּ״.

Step 1: Pesach - Nefesh HaBehamis is suppressed (no leaven)

Step 2: Sefiras HaOmer - Nefesh HaBehamis is sublimated (the leaven is used to change ourselves)

Step 3: Shavuos - Total abnegation of man in the face of God - the leaven is used in the service of Hashem to make the world a Dirah B'Tachtonim.

Every day we go through this three stage process:

Stage 1: Modeh Ani -  surrender to Hashem

Stage 2: Pesukei D'Zimrah and Kerias Shema - arousing the emotions and understanding which leads to sublimation 

Stage 3: Shemoneh Esrei - total abnegation (like a slave standing before his master) אֲדֹנָי שְׂפָתַי תִּפְתָּח וּפִי יַגִּיד תְּהִלָּתֶֽךָ

Original Question: Why did the Torah leave room for error? Why not write explicitly "the day after Pesach"?

Final Answer: To enter into the animal soul and transform it into Godliness without being negatively impacted requires operating from a spiritual source. Shabbos is the apex of the week and is therefore a source of intense spirituality but it still belongs to the week. In that sense the energy of Shabbos is still within the finite, time bound world. מִמׇּחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת refers to the spiritual source that is beyond Shabbos - it belongs to the world of the infinite and the timeless. In telling us that Sefiras HaOmer begins on the morrow after the Shabbos, the Torah is telling us the spiritual source necessary to make a total transformation from animal to Godly.

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