Saturday, May 05, 2007

DVAR TORAH S2: Emor ("It's pronounced Eh? More!")

(the tagline courtesy of a conversation I had)

Very quickly as I must run minyan in a few minutes...

This week we read of the major holidays of the Jewish people. Appropriately enough we have the source for counting the [H]omer the eve of our celebration of Lag B'Omer. We count up from the second day of Passover (this might not make sense for us in the diaspora, but in Israel where they only observe the first day of Passover as a Yom Tov, a holiday of complete abstention from work, the second day is considered the first work day of the barley harvest season) to the holiday of Shavuot 50 days later. We count up, not down. This evokes shades of the famous argument of Hillel and Shammai over how to light chanukkah candles. Shammai says we go from 8 candles on the first night to 1 on the last night. Hillel, conversely, says 1 to 8. Naturally, Hillel wins. He always wins (to which I have coined an adage: "Poor Shammai, he's the Goofus to Hillel's Gallant."). The reasoning is that we prefer to increase in holiness. Though not mentioned in the passage in Emor, the Jews did increase in holiness the year before this directive was given during the period between the Exodus from Egypt on Passover to the Revelation of the Torah at Sinai on Shavuot. It is a symbol of purity and holiness. We prepare for all of our major holidays in some way. Sukkot we prepare for by building huts, Passover we clean and kasher our homes (or synagogues in my case), and Shavuot we commit ourselves to 49 days of hagbalah, of preparation of holiness to receive the Word of God from God God'sself (sorry, trying to create God pronouns...)

Anyway, Shabbat Shalom and Lag B'Omer Sameach.


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