Wednesday, April 25, 2012
1) The Rokeach has the following remez for sefiras ha'omer:
"Im tivakshena ka'kesef u'kmatmonim tachapesna..." (Mishlei 2:4) The word "matmonim" can be read as an acronym: M"T (=49) monim -- counting 49. If we have kisufim, real desire for Torah, and eagerly count down the 49 days of sefirah until the chag of mattan Torah, "Az tavin yiras Hashem..."
2) A bekiyus tidbit: The last Mishna in the second perek of Ediyos has a machlokes how long the wicked spend in purgatory. Tana Kama holds they are judged in geheinom for 12 months, while R' Yochanan ben Nuri says they are judged from Pesach to Atzeres (Shavuos).
Bartenura explains that R' Yochanan ben Nuri means that the maximum length of time spent in geheinom is 50 days, the same amount of time as the number of days between Pesach and Shavuos. The Tiferes Yisrael, however, suggests that perhaps R' Yochanan ben Nuri meant davka the 50 days between Pesach and Shavuos, i.e. every year during this time period there is a new judgment passed on those resha'im who were sent to geheinom. Therefore, he writes, the minhag of Klal Yisrael is to treat these days as days of aveilus.
3) The Rishonim explains that the mitzvah of "U'sefartem lachem..." means each individual is personally responsible to count sefirah, unlike the count of years of shemita or yoveil which are done by Beis Din on behalf of all Klal Yisrael. Achronim add that this means that one cannot fulfill the mitzvah of sefirah through shome'a k'oneh, by listening to someone else count and having in mind to be yotzei.
Why is it that the mitzvah of sefirah has this unique din, different than other counting mitzvah? Ramban explains that the count of sefirah is a preparation for mattan Torah. Each day that we check off as a day closer to mattan Torah is a day that we should be using to further ready ourselves for mattan Torah. The Sochatchover (Ne'os Desheh) explains that every single person has his/her own portion in Torah that he/she must get ready to receive. We each have a mission of our own and a Torah that goes with it. I can't be yotzei by listening to my friend learn his portion of Torah -- I have to do my own learning, I have to find my own cheilek, I have to do my own personal sefirah preparation to receive it.
This is why the students of Rabbi Akiva were punished specifically during this time period. The gemara tells is that the reason for their death is because R' Akiva's students did not show proper respect for each other. Each one viewed his chaveir as just another talmid, one of many who listened to the same shiur, took the same notes, had the same rebbe. They did not appreciate that each one of them had their own unique slant, had their own perspective on their rebbe's Torah, had their own cheilek in learning that was valuable and irreplaceable.