Being Capable to Receive

The following text by Reb Zalman is from this week’s Torah portion, Shabbos Emor. (Click here for Hebrew/English version). [Notes by Gabbai Seth Fishman, BLOG Editor]:

In various places, it is written, DaBeR / Speak to the Children of Israel.  This week’s portion, begins,  (Leviticus 21:1), EMoR / Say to the priests.

 [NOTE:  The two verbs being used in these lines have similar meanings, but are different in the ways they were interpreted by the Rabbis:  DaBer / speak and Emor / say.  God tells Moses to speak to the people and this is traditionally interpreted as rough and censorious.  God tells Moses to say to the priests and this is interpreted as gentle communication.]

(AMiRah / A pledge to God is the equivalent of paying – – cf Nedarim 29)

[NOTE:  If the substance of a declaration is internalized and acted upon, the declaration’s tone is effectively superfluous.  Conversely, one can declare something with great emphasis and then act in a manner inconsistent with what one declared.]

To a priest who is a person of grace, it suffices b’AMiRah / to say it in gentle terms. (cf Rashi, Exodus 19:3).

And the important thing of ha-AMiRah / the saying is the content. On the other hand, with DiBuR / speech, it is like (Psalms 47:4) “yaDBeR Ammim / He directs the nations to be compliant,” more akin to a command and direction for someone with a “stiff neck,” (i.e. giving resistance.)

[NOTE:  Each person works on becoming more capable to receive, i.e. choosing to be hir best and spending time cultivating gifts that are hir particular inheritance.] 

(Leviticus 23: 15-16): u-SeFaRtem / And you shall count for yourselves,

(i.e. making yourself luminous),

[NOTE:  The practice of meditating on Sefirah combinations as we count the Omer is embedded in the Hebrew word וספרתם  which has a double meaning of counting and Sapphire, or luminous.]

from the morrow of the rest day,

(i.e. the service that even transcends the Shabbat),

[NOTE:  This contradicts what we say during kiddush about Shabbos, i.e., “Ki hu yom t’chilah l-mikraey kodesh,” / i.e., nothing transcends Shabbat, it is the first of all.  However, according to the view of the Pharisees, the word השבת in  ממחרת השבת refers to the fifteenth of Nisan i.e., Pesach.]

from the day you bring the omer as a wave offering,

(to lift up the cattle food), –

[NOTE:  The reference is to offering the barley that was waved on the second day of Passover in Temple times, but in the Hebrew, there is a hint that what is intended is raising of the Nefesh HaBehamit / Animal soul through the meditation on the Sefirot.]

(Whoever does it thus, makes hirself luminous, as in, ibid, “for yourselves.”

[NOTE:  I.e., “and you shall count for yourselves,” meaning, God saying, “I give you this commandment,” but also meaning, “when you meditate on the combination of Sefirot for each day of the counting of the Omer, the light of the Sefirot will shine through the prism of who you are in all your inidividuality and through all your diverse parts of good and evil and through this process you will get something for yourself.”]

From the day that you raise yourselves from the earth to Hir, yisborach, you shall count)

seven weeks, they shall be complete.

(The seven Sabbaths shall influence the way you behave during the week.) 

You shall count until the day after the seventh week, [namely], the fiftieth day

(i.e., a reward will be unveiled for you from the fiftieth gate and you will become capable to receive the holy Torah.)

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
from Yishmiru Daat (2009 revision),
Parashat Emor,” p. 33-34

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