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Counting of the Omer

Counting of the Omer

Rav Sitruk: "The Omer, a skillful lesson on hope!"

Published on Thursday May 21th, 2020

The time that divides Pesach and Shavuot is commonly called the "Period of the Omer". However, at a certain time, it had an implication of mourning since the students of the famous leader Rabbi Akiva were the victims of a terrible plague has wiped out 24 000 of them: during 24 days without interruption, hundreds of children were buried in the darkness of the night. From there, of course, the continuation in our entire history and up until today of this trauma which was terrible grief!

But beyond these tragic events, this period is, in fact, the bearer of a double lesson…

Rabbi Akiva was indeed the great leader of the oral law, if so with the death of his students, it was the entire “Torah She Baal Peh” which was endangered because it would no longer be able to be transmitted. Rabbi Akiva teaches us an extraordinary lesson… at the age of 64 years old and after he had just lost all his students, this great sage does not give up: he goes to the south of Israel to establish a new yeshiva!

Of this Talmudic Institute of the oral Torah, will come forth six great masters: Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, Rabbi Meir Baal Haness, Rabbi Yehudah Bar Ilai, Rabbi Yossi Ben Halafta, Rabbi Elazar ben Shamua and Rabbi Nechemia. Despite the extent of the disaster which had wiped out all his students, Rabbi Akiva never discouraged. The double message is therefore clear: we must never stop to pray and hope, and at the same time we must never forget what had happened…

This is why we do not celebrate Jewish weddings during this period: which is very rare in our tradition as it is important for Judaism of continuing to bounding homes. Because beyond the dramatic aspect of this devastating plague, ours ages wanted to indicate by mourning, that if the Oral Torah was G-d forbid wiped out one day, this would be as if the whole Torah would be wiped out!.  If the written Torah is lacking its oral dimension given too on Mount Sinai, the written Torah literally, has no meaning.

A study was made a little more than 25 years ago in the USA that showed that:

about 1 785 religions of the world are derived from Judaism and are based on the writings of the Hebrew Bible by interpreting its text. This shows how - without our oral law which protects the written law and transmits its real meaning, it is possible to get a completely wrong message from the original and unique divine message that the two contain (oral and written) when completing each other.

The counting of the Omer is, therefore, the opportunity to pay tribute to the wise men of Israel that, at all times and without interruption, ensured the transmission of the Torah and the Hebrew language. Because if we are talking about our days in Israel and modern Ivrit, it is all thanks to these masters of Israel, which for two millennia since the destruction of the Temple, never stopped in exile to speak amongst them in Hebrew, speaking and writing it. That has maintained our admired language, but - well above - the whole message of the Torah and its true essence.

The Torah-Box Team - © Torah-Box

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