The mitzvah of the Korban Omer, the waving it before Hashem backwards, forwards, upwards, and downwards, and the mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer are in this week’s parsha. The Medrash ((Vayikra Rabba 28,6) states that forever one should not treat the mitzvah of the Omer lightly for it was because of this mitzvah Avraham Avinu inherited Eretz Yisrael. It is written (Bereishis 17,8,9) ונתתי לך ולזרעך אחריך את ארץ כנען ואתה את בריתי תשמור ואיזה זה מצוה העומר. The Medrash explains that  בריתיis referring to the Omer and that receiving Eretz Yisrael is dependent upon the fulfillment of the Omer mitzvah. Why is the Omer called a Bris? Secondly why is our living in Eretz Yisrael dependent upon the Omer? Thirdly there is a mitzvah of waving the Omer before Hashem and that is why the Torah describes the Omer asעומר התנופה. What is the significance of this ritual?

The Zohar says that the Korban Omer is composed of barley which is an animal food. For this reason a woman who is accused of being a Sotah and suspected of infidelity, must bring an offering made of barley for she followed the animal soul that lies within her.  The Darkei Noam writes that the Korban Haomer symbolizes that Klal Yisrael are sacrificing the things towards which an animal gravitates to and from which the animal soul in man nurtures itself. The essence of this Korban is to subjugate the animal soul in man and elevate it to Hashem. The picking up of the Omer and waving it to Hashem achieves a cleansing of earthly desires and the erecting of our spiritual stature to be directed upwards towards the heaven.  

In Shir Hashirim 7,8 the passuk says זאת קומתך דמתה לתמר   this is your stature to be similar to a date tree. Chazal explain מה תמר זה אין לו אלא לב אחד אף ישראל אין להם אלא לב אחד לאביהם שבשמים. Yisrael are compared to a date tree for it appears as if it has only one heart to Hashem (there are no branches on the trunk of the tree only at the top). Hashem is Yisrael’s only concern and focus in life and they do not branch out with the pursuit of other interests and focuses outside of Hashem.

The purpose of the Omer is in its waving ritual which is to help a Yid elevate his animal soul to the point that it too seeks to connect to Hashem by helping the neshamah fulfill its mission in the world. This is the goal that the Torah expects from us when it demands ואהבת את ה’ אלקיך בכל לבבך that one must love Hashem with one’s complete heart together with the yetzer harah serving Hashem as well (Rashi). Hashem is echad one. In order to have deveikus with Him one must also make himself one heart whose passion is exclusively  for Hashem.

Why is the Omer called a Bris? In the old days making a bris between two people would mean that they would cut up an animal and make a space to walk through the parts of meat which lay on both sides just as we find by the bris between Avraham and Hashem the BrisBein Habesarim” the covenant between the pieces of meat. The Ishbitzer Rebbe explains this ritual as follows. What is going to ensure that the partners in the bris will stay loyal to their words of agreement? The problem is with their animal soul which can ignite the partners with greed, jealousy, selfishness pettiness all of which will break the commitment from their side. Therefore, the bris is that each member of the treaty walks between the cut up pieces which symbolizes that he takes upon himself to work on subjugating his animal soul to ensure that all these bad middos will not suddenly flare up and lead to the break up of the bris.

Interestingly the wordברית  besides meaning covenant, also means soap (pronounced bowris). The Bris made between people forces them to cleanse their animal soul from its earthly desires and bad middos.

With this interpretation we can explain the passuk concerning the Omer,והניף את העומר לפני ה’ לרצונכם. You shall wave the Omer before Hashemלרצונכם  which Rashi explains ‘if you will follow the instructions of the Omer offering it will be accepted by Hashem on your behalf”. However, the novel explanation is that a Yid’s inner desire is to serve Hashem and fulfill His mitzvos as Chazal say )Berachos 17)

גלוי וידוע לפניך שרצוננו לעשות רצונך ומי מעכב שאור שבעיסה ושעבוד מלכיות יהי רצון מלפניך שתצילנו מידם ונשוב לעשות חוקי רצונך בלבב שלם

Our true desire is to serve our king but it is the yetzer harah and the galus that extinguish our passion and stunt it from bringing this service to fruition. In short the animal soul gets in our way. With the segulah of the Omer offering, the animal soul is subdued and our true desire to serve Hashem is revealed which we follow. לרצונכם the waving of the Omer is a catalyst in inspiring one to fulfill his inner will to serve Hashem.

Eretz Yisrael is the land where Hashem’s Shechinah rests and His hashgacha is tangible. In order to live there, Am Yisrael must subjugate their animal soul to Hashem and wholesomely serve Him and fulfill His mitzvos. The way that this is made possible is through the Korban Omer which helps in the process of acquiring לב אחד in the service of Hashem. Through theעמר  we becomeיקר  endeared and precious to Hashem. עמר  is gematriah יקר.

What is the goal of תספרו חמישים יום ? It is to become like a date tree and transform the animal soul to be a partner with our neshama whose stature is directed heavenwards. In short, we are toiling to possess a לב האחד a heart of oneness. The gematriah ofלב האחד  equals 50 corresponding to the 50 days that will enable us to stand לפני ה’  on the day of Kabbalas Hatorah.

The creation of the לב אחד process has two segments. During the first part of the Sefirah which ends on the לב the 32nd preceding the day before Lag B’omer, we wave goodbye to the animal soul by subjugating it and not allowing it to flare up. From Lag B’omer and until Shevuos we wave a welcome hand to the animal soul for during this time we elevate it to become האחד with the neshamah to fulfill its mission to serve Hashem echad.   

Gut Shabbos

Rav Brazil