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Thought for the Day: La-Omer/Ba-Omer; B'Tishrei/B'Nissan Nivra ha'Olam

Whether you count "ba'omer" (as I do) or "la'omer" (not as I do, but don't worry, it doesn't make me think any less of you), at some point you must have wondered what this "omer" thing is.  So I am here to tell you.  It a measure of volume, equal to approximately 2 quarts  (1.997782468 quarts dry US, for you fanatics).  In other words, every night you are counting, "Tonight is N days which is N%7 and N/7 days of the quarts."  Very spiritually uplifting, no?

Of course it doesn't mean any old quarts.  After all, this is at the very center or a fundamental machlokes with the Tzadukim concerning the veracity of the Torah Sh'b'al peh/Oral Law.  There were three places where the Tzadukim denied the veracity of the Oral Law -- Shabbos, T'fillin, and the Omer.  The Written Law says not to have a fire burning on Shabbos, the Oral Law says it really means not to kindle/change a burning fire on Shabbos.  The Written Law says t'fillin goes between your eyes, the Oral Law says it really means on top of your head.  The Written Law says to bring the korban omer on the day after Shabbos, the Oral Law says it really means the day after Chag haPesach.

So our Holy War against the Tzadukim -- and all others who would deny the Oral Law -- is waged behind three solid bulwarks.  T'fillin -- about which it says "l'ma'an t'hiye toras HaShem b'fi'cha"/in order that HaShem's Torah should be your constant thought, deed, and occupation.  Shabbos -- shomer shabbos is equivalent to shomer torah and mitzvos.  Omer -- two quarts of animal feed.

Really?  Yes; really.  As already noted when explaining the difference in meaning between ba-omer and la-omer, the korban omer is b'davka out of barley because HaShem was doing a chesed for us by allowing us to use the earlier ripening crop.  There is more, though.  The Ramban says that the korban omer is chameitz free because chameitz represents midas ha-din.  The shtei ha'lechem, on the other hand, contains chmeitz.  Just as midas ha'rachamim preceeded midas ha'din in the creation of the world, so to with the omer and shtei ha'lechem.  HaMeivin Yavin (I love when the Ramban says that.)

So the omer allows us to eat chadash; HaShem doing a chesed for us.  The shtei ha'lechem allows us to bring our korbanos from chadash; us responding to HaShem's chesed.  The K'dushas Leivi (elsewhere) says that the machlokes R' Eliezer and R' Yehushua (Rosh HaShanna 11a): b'Nissan nivra ha'olam o b'Tishrei nivra ha'olam -- discussing whether the world was created in Nissan or Tishrei is precisely on this point.  If you say the world achieves its purpose by providing a creature who can accept HaShem's goodness, then b'Tishrei nivra ha'olam.  But if you say that the world achieves its purpose when the creature responds to HaShem's goodness, then b'Nissan nivra ha'olam.  "ba-omer" means during the omer period, ie, including the shtei ha'lechem because the korban omer is only complete when we can respond by bringing korbanos from chadash.  "la-omer" means the korban omer itself, ie, the omer is already complete because it allows us to eat chadash.

You can't really still think that any detail in halacha, no matter how minute, is just a "happening" can you?!


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