Parshat Bechukotay – 2011

Parshat Bechukotay May 20, 2011

Leah Goldsmith

Most of the counting of the omer takes place in Iyar (May). This is also the month that Shlomo Hamelech began to build the Beit HaMikdash, our Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Iyar is the month that succeeds Nissan, the time of our coming out of narrow-mindedness, as we left the physical prison of Egypt where also the spiritual potential of our minds was controlled by Pharoh. It is in this second month of Iyar that we become refined and are able to form an appropriate vessel for receiving revelation- which comes in the third month, Sivan at Har Sinai. This is accomplished by counting the omer and the spiritual contents begin to fill us up the vessel of the soul as we look forward to Shavuot. We start this counting on the 16th of Nissan, the day that the first grains are gathered in the fields of Eretz Yisrael. This grain was collected and called the omer. It was barley, an animal food fit for sanctifying the animal soul. The omer was sifted thirteen times hand in hand with a unique purification process going on in the mind of the person doing omer. This “refinement” actually brought one from the physical (animal) state in his/her being to a higher form of existence. Indeed the fifteenth day of Nissan is the time we celebrate our exodus. It took 49 days to reach the level of being able to receive the torah on Shavuoth, the seventh of Sivan. The Mishnah states:” There are four types among those who sit before the sages: a sponge (one who absorbs the learning), a funnel (one who absorbs and can pass it over), a strainer (one who can differentiate the ikkar from the tafel), and the sieve.” A sieve lets out the course flour but retains the fine flour. This, Rashi says, is the highest level and from this flour the bread was consecrated as an offering in the Temple by the Priests who had reached the “fine flour” level in their souls. The sieve, the torah reiterates in the Mishnah in Masechet Avot 1:17 that sums up the entire torah and states: “Study is not the main thing but ACTION.” Hashem gave us the torah on Har Sinai on Shavuoth, the third month. It was a climax for the Jewish people as they became one man with one heart. BUT it took forty more years of sifting and internalizing to absolutely leave the physical “animal state” and reach a righteous receptiveness to finally grasp the ultimate purpose of creation and the ultimate task of being a light unto the nations in a land separate, a land so fine it is consecrated It was only in Israel that the pinnacle was reached where the spiritual could be applied- where the dwelling place below connected with the dwelling place above. All the Torahs go back to same point. How we read and understand them is up to how we have left the prison of Egypt and how we have made ourselves a vessel for G-d’s purpose – We have reached the time and place of clarification. Shabbat Shalom Leah Goldsmith

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