Shabbat Message

We are currently in the seven-week counting period between Pesach and Shavuos, known as Sefiras HaOmer – the counting of the Omer. Today is the 26th day of the Omer count.

The Torah in this week’s portion describes the Mitzvos pertaining to the counting of the Omer.

When the Jews entered the Land of Israel they were obligated to go into a barley field on the second night of Pesach, either in Jerusalem or elsewhere in Israel, and cut an Omer amount of ripened barley. They brought the sheaves into the Holy Temple, where the barley was ground and then sifted 13 times until it was extremely fine. This flour offering was then waved in the six directions and along with an animal sacrifice was offered in the Temple. This offering permitted all grains of the new crop to be eaten by the masses.

Incidentally, this ritual of cutting the barley in the field would be performed even if the second night of Pesach fell on a Friday night when cutting and harvesting is usually forbidden because of the Shabbos. Although within the Temple proper, the normative Shabbos prohibitions such as slaughtering animals and the active use of fire were permitted in order to perform the Temple Service, the cutting of the Omer is unique, because it was done outside the confines of the Temple and wasn’t part of the actual service. The cutting of the Omer was done publicly and visibly.

In regards to the Omer offering the Torah says, “On the day after the Shabbos, wave and offer the meal offering of the Omer.” The day Shabbos mentioned here refers to the first day of Pesach.

This begs a question. Why does the Torah specifically call the first day of Pesach – Shabbos? There is a certain characteristic of the first day of Pesach that is shared with the Holy day of Shabbos. When G-d ceased from creative activities on the seventh day of creation, it set into motion a holiness that entered every subsequent seventh day of the week. The first Shabbos launched holiness into all Shabbosos that followed. In a similar way, the first day of Pesach acts as a springboard to all other holidays. Our ancestors ate the roasted Pascal Lamb with Matzah and Morror in Egypt on the night of Pesach and then they were freed in the middle of the next day.

The impression of the rituals, miraculous occurrences and events that happened on the first day of Pesach in Egypt set the stage for all other subsequent holidays to be observed. The Holiday of Shavuos is directly linked to our exodus from Egypt, because it is not celebrated on a specific day of the month. Rather it is only determined by the 49 day count from Pesach. The Torah also links the holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Succos to our exodus from Egypt.

Since our exodus from Egypt on Pesach causes us to observe the rest of the Torah, it is equated with Shabbos.

Since Shabbos and Pesach are similar in this regard it follows that our observance of the Shabbos is also inked to Pesach.

When the Torah mentions the law of Shabbos in the fourth of the Ten Commandments, it states that it is a remembrance of G-d resting on the Seventh day of creation, and also, that the Shabbos is a remembrance of our slavery and exodus from Egypt.

You’ll notice this during the Friday night Kiddush; both the remembrances of Shabbos of creation, and of our Exodus from Egypt are listed. How did Shabbos get mixed in with our Exodus?

Commentators explain. Of course the Shabbos was given because G-d rested on the seventh day of creation. But why should we, the Jewish people, be the ones entrusted and obligated to follow G-d’s ways and observe the Shabbos? Aren’t all people and nations of the world living as a result of the seven days of creation? Why shouldn’t they also be obligated to observe the Shabbos?

The answer is that at creation G-d imprinted within the world that He is the creator and He set the world into motion, which is undeniable. With our exodus from Egypt G-d proved through us that not only is He Creator, he is knowledgeable and in control over everything He created.

Since the Jewish people were the vehicle through which G-d chose to display His power over all, through the plagues and our exodus, we were given the exclusive rights to be the ones to imitate G-d by being entrusted with the great gift and Mitzvah to observe the holy day of Shabbos!