This is the beginning of a special time in the Jewish calendar. We began the counting of the Omer. It is actually the countdown until we receive the Torah on Shavuot. It is a tradition during these coming 7 weeks to study Pirke Avot—Ethics of the Fathers and to use it as a special time to focus on ways to refine our character. In case anyone thought that our only time of focused introspection is during the month of Elul preceding the High Holidays, not so. The time of Sefirah—the 49 days between the Second Seder night and Shavuot is another one of those times. The newly freed slaves received the Torah just 7 weeks after the Exodus and we will celebrate that shortly.
At Adat Shalom, during incredible services on the second day of Passover, we were privileged to learn with Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels who taught on the meaning of matzah and even more so, the effect of chametz in our lives. The fact that after Pesach we eat chametz must mean that chametz is not all bad. Significantly, he taught on the fact that our lives are not only matzah, but must be a balance between matzah and chametz. We use these next 49 days to properly consider the role of the components of matzah and chametz in our lives. The Sages taught that chametz symbolized the Yetzer Harah. As humans we may never rid ourselves of the Yetzer Harah, but we can learn how to channel it. Maybe that is the point of this special time leading to Zeman Matan Torateynu.
How do you feel about the Torah? Really. What does the Torah mean to you? Word of God? Word of man? Story book? Holy book? Is it special to you? How do you want your children to feel about it? Do you feel worthy or deserving of it? If you had to earn it, could you? Would you try? What are the attributes of someone worthy of receiving the Torah? These are important days to be considering these questions and maybe help prepare for the evening of May 14th.
This Shabbat at 10:00 a.m., we learn with Rabbi Rachel Shere. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like. It is a great way to get ready for the giving of Torah.
Enjoy the rest of Pesach and have a great Shabbat.