Seven. Let’s talk about who knows that number. We ought to be familiar with it from this time of the Jewish calendar year. Seven are the count of the weeks between Pesach and Shavuos.
Seven are the count of the colors that make up the rainbow arc.
Seven are the notes of a song.
Seven are the years of the Sabbatical cycle. And seven cycles of Shemitta years gives us a Jubilee year. There are seven “shepherds” to the Israeli nation-flock. Seven Sefiros – in Kabbalah we learn there are seven forces of spirituality that were imbued into this world of physicality. Ah, herein is the secret to it all. Seven is the number pattern to physicality.
The Mitzva of Sefiras Ha’Omer, the count of days and then weeks between Pesach and Shavuos has to be a complete count of seven full weeks. The count begins with the sacrifice of the barley Omer brought on Pesach and ends with the the sacrifice of the Shtai HaLechem fine-flour-bread offering of Shavuos.
The point of us counting Sefiras Ha’Omer is not just the count — it is supposed to be a reminder for us to work out our inner kinks to become more refined beings. We are to go from roasted barley, food often used as animal feed, and work our way to bread, which signifies food forms fit for humans. The point of Sefiras Ha’Omer is to go from animalistic being to spiritual human.
Seven counts of physicality are all fine and good because we take that physicality and we hit higher numbers with them. The count we are enjoined to do for seven weeks is not just about seven complete weeks, it is about completing our potential. Actualizing our fullest spiritual essence. Getting beyond this world, to a higher dimension. Seven, those physical things we can make eternal.
And when the seven weeks are complete, it is then we can head to the Giving of the Torah which is the theme of Shavuos.The count of the Omer is done at night. So long as a person has been constant in counting from when the count began on the second night of Pesach, we say a blessing over the count. Sfiras Ha’omer download.
Sefiras Ha’Omer, unfortunately, is not just about the count in our times. Historically this time brought a plague of death to the students of Rabbi Akiva. We, therefore, have the custom to observe modified laws of mourning during these days, including not listening to music, not taking haircuts and not wearing new clothes. Some folks observe the mourning period from Pesach until Lag Ba’Omer. Belz custom is to observe the entire Sefiras Ha’Omer as a mourning period.
May 10th, the 14th day of Iyar is called Pesach Shaynee – the “Second Pesach”. What is the concept of this “second chance Pesach”? The first Pesach that the Jews were in the desert a group of men did not get to bring the Paschal sacrifice because they were Tamei L’Mes — impure from touching a dead person. (A person who touches a dead body can’t bring a sacrifice – has to go through purification beforehand). So these men came to Moshe and said, “It isn’t fair – why should we lose out on this Mitzva just because we were doing the Mitzva of taking care of the dead.” Moshe tells them, “Okay, let me ask.” And G-d tells Moshe that when this happens, there is a Pesach Sheni – a second point in time, a month after the first Pesach, where all those who couldn’t bring the Paschal Sacrifice during Pesach can do this Mitzva and bring the Paschal Sacrifice a month later.
The question is this: why wasn’t this Mitzva of this “makeup sacrifice” given right away with the Mitzva of the first Pesach? Why wait until these men complained to give this Mitzvah? To teach us how our attitude to Mitzvos should be – -that when we can’t do one, we should feel like we are missing out on something. So because we should learn from their example, this Mitzva was not given until the folks said “we want this mitzvah”.
There is another lesson in the “second chance Pesach” that is very important to us to learn. That is that Hashem gives second chances at spirituality. There is no such thing as never being given a second chance at being close to G-d.
Now that we don’t have a Temple to bring a Paschal offering, in lieu of that, we eat our Matza. So, get yourself a bit of Matza and bite into the concept of second chances.