Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Parashat Emor

In his D’var Torah this week, the Chief Rabbi explains how the Omer can act as our own personal treasure hunt.

Continuity and accuracy are required for the counting of the Omer. We learn this from this week’s Parasha of Emor – the Torah tells us, Sheva Shabatot Temimot Tehiyenah, ‘These must be seven whole and complete weeks’.

We count the Omer in anticipation of the arrival of the Festival of Shavuot, when we receive the Torah afresh and anew. And during these days of the counting, we search for the value and relevance of Torah in our lives.

With this in mind, King Solomon in the book of Proverbs says, ‘Uchmatmonim Tachbesenah’, ‘Search for Torah like one who searches for hidden treasure’.

‘Continuity and accuracy are required for the counting of the Omer’

Matmonim, ‘like treasure’, according to our Sages can be divided into two parts, memtetmonim, ‘count forty-nine’. And from here we learn that with regard to the counting of the Omer, first of all, there needs to be continuous practice. If you miss out on a single day then you won’t be able to recite the Bracha anymore, it needs to be ongoing throughout all forty-nine days. And similarly, the counting must be accurate, the exact day without making a mistake – how many weeks and days in the sequence.

When I was studying at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, our Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Goldvicht explained as follows: If let’s say somebody was to tell you that out in a forest, there is some hidden treasure, and they would give you the map with directions and you would be shown the exact spot where the treasure is, you’d go off to that place, you’d start to dig.

I am telling you now that actually, the treasure is 10 feet below the surface of the ground – but you don’t know that. You could dig for six feet, seven, nine, maybe even nine and a half feet and not reach the treasure. You could say ‘Ah, this must be a mistake’ or ‘perhaps he was just bluffing’.

Alternatively, you could dig for twenty or thirty feet and still not reach the treasure if you are digging at an angle. So, when it comes to Matmonim Tachbesenah, ‘searching for treasure’, we need continuity and accuracy. And so too with regard to all of the Mitzvot, to find the inner meaning and beauty and relevance of the Mitzvot of the Torah in our lives. If you keep the odd Shabbat, or have a particular Chag experience, it might be lovely, but that won’t be enough to enable you to appreciate the great beauty and relevance of these Mitzvot in our lives.

‘When it comes to our search for the meaning of Torah in our lives, let’s do it continuously and let’s be accurate in our practice of it’

Or if you are keeping the Mitzvot continuously, but in a half-baked way, with certain compromises and allowances here or there, because there is no accuracy, likewise, you might not appreciate their full value.

And so, from the counting of the Omer, we learn an important lesson. When it comes to our search for the meaning of Torah in our lives, let’s do it continuously and let’s be accurate in our practice of it.

In that way, we will be able to reveal how essential the Torah is in our lives – that it is indeed, the greatest treasure that exists on earth.

Shabbat Shalom