Parsha Emor: The Omer period

This week, we study in memory of Cheryl Baraty, long-time member of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting and Central Region Chair for the Committee, who passed away on Wednesday, April 30.

Dear Scouts:

Parsha Emor teaches us about a number of topics: obligations of the priests, laws about the offerings, and our holy days and festivals.

Among the festivals, the parsha talks about Pesach, the counting of the seven weeks of the Omer, and the festival at the end of that period, Shavuot, when we celebrate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

The 49 days in which we count the Omer is also the period in Israel between the barley harvest at Pesach to the wheat harvest at Shavuot.  The Omer was a special offering of grain celebrating the harvest.

The Torah describes this 49-day period as seven shavuot, or weeks, which is why the festival is called Shavuot. Seven weeks of seven days equals 49. Our tradition tells us the number 7 represents completion. God created the world in six days and completed this creation with a seventh day of rest – Shabbat.

God created the Jewish people, beginning with their liberation from slavery on Pesach; this creation was completed when they received God’s Torah seven weeks later on Shavuot.

Remember the seven spiritual Sefirot from last week? The seventh one was Malchut, inspiring or allowing others to act. If the number 7 is completion, then perhaps when we complete something it is Malchut because we inspire someone or allow them to act. What Malchut was there when God finished creation – did it allow others to act?  What Malchut was there when God gave us the Torah – did it inspire others to do anything? Were these acts of Malchut complete until something new was created?

Shabbat shalom,


©2014  Nelson R. Block