web analytics
September 18, 2014 / 23 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

The Cycle Of Seven

PTI-050914-Sevens

One can’t help but wonder what is so significant about the number seven that Hashem makes it so relevant to cycles of time: the seven day week, the seven year shmittah cycle, and then the 7×7 cycles of the Yovel and the Omer? Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch, zt”l points out that all units of time are connected to a physical cycle.  Night and day are based on the rotation of the earth.  A year is the cycle of the earth moving around the sun.  A month is based on the rotation of the moon around the earth.  But the unit of a week has no connection to anything!  Holy Shabbos, the seventh day, receives its sanctity only because Hashem rested on that day. This gives us insight into how we can serve Hashem by keeping Shabbos; as the seventh day has no link to any physical reality of its own, keeping Shabbos allows us to physically testify that Hashem created the world.

We find this to be true about the shmittah year as well: “Veshavsa Haaretz Shabbos LaHashem – the land shall rest a resting for Hashem” (Behar 25:2). Rashi explains that this means for the sake of Hashem – just like Shabbos. Eretz Yisroel‘s resting during the shmittah year proclaims Hashem as the Creator of the world just as Shabbos does, for the unit of time – seven – is solely connected to the creation of the world. The Kli Yakar gives us an amazing insight; he says that the counting of fifty years is symbolic of a man’s lifetime. The average life of man is seventy (“Yemei shenosayhem bahem shiv’im shanaTehillim 90), but for the first twenty years, a person is still maturing and developing.  The prime years of a person’s life are between 20 and 70.

Obviously, it is no coincidence that the period of the Omer is structured in the exact same model: Sheva Shabasos – seven weeks. We count seven days, it’s a week; we count seven of those units and that’s the Omer. And at the culmination of the Omer, just like at the culmination of the seven shmitos, we have a special celebration: Shavous.

So let’s examine the progression of the Omer. The start of the Omer period is marked by bringing the first harvest of barley to the Beis HaMikdash as a mincha offering. On Shavuos we have a different grain offering, the Two Loaves, brought from a mincha offering of the first harvest of wheat. The Slonimer Rav, ztl in Nesivos Shalom explains that the Torah is teaching us the focus of this period.  The Gemara labels barley as animal food and wheat – bread – as human food. The focus of this period is to develop ourselves and refine our character. We start off like animals (and when we first came out of Mitzrayim, the angels complained to Hashem about saving Bnei Yisroel, “These are idol worshippers and those are idol worshippers!”) but are expected to grow daily and develop into humans.  The goal is to transform ourselves from being an instinct-ruled animal that looks like a human to being a human who is only physically an animal. An animal’s instincts control it, but a human controls his instincts.

When commanding us to count the Omer, the Torah tells us “Vesofarta lecha.” Rav Dessler, ztl explains that the counting must be a personal counting (“Lecha” to you), because it is a period of self-development. The Torah calls the mincha offering of wheat which is brought on Shavuos a “Mincha Chadasha,” a new offering. What is its newness? We are the offering, says the Nesivos Shalom, when we have transformed ourselves into a new creation.PTI-050914-Days

The Omer is a microcosm of our life; we need a plan to give us focus during these 49 days, in order to be prepared to take full advantage of the transcendent 50th day. We are given a frame of reference – a deadline – in order to help us focus on the goal. When we wake up it’s not just another day, our weekends are not mundane TGIFs (Thank G-d it’s Friday), rather they represent steps in a cycle: every week is a unit of its own, every seven years is a unit of its own. Living this way helps us structure and plan accordingly. We must ask ourselves what we want to accomplish this week, and what we want to accomplish by the end of this seven-week or seven-year segment period of our lives – refining specific character traits, building or deepening relationships, attaining goals in Torah study. The Torah has given us timetables that need to be filled; it is incumbent upon us to utilize these cycles, and particularly the one we are in middle of – the Omer – to manifest all our actions in testimony of Hashem. And the greatest testimony that exists is the human being himself.

We are a tzelem Elokim, an image of Hashem. When one meets a Gadol – and if you’ve met with one, you will know how true this is – the most striking thing is not his incredible Torah knowledge, fear of Heaven, or even his love and concern for others.  Yes, he has all three of these incredible traits; however, the most striking thing about him is the glow of a perfected human being, a complete man.  And that’s our job, our goal…and it’s attainable!  It’s a lifelong mission which we can succeed at if we count the days.  It takes constant work; it’s a daily job.

Each morning when we wake up we must remember that it’s our mission for the day. We say modeh ani for this opportunity each morning. Try it immediately – make a plan and work at it for one week. The week will not be seven days; you will see it becomes a unit. Add one unit to the next – grow and succeed.

About the Author: Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim is Associate Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Passaic Torah Institute, Passaic, NJ.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “The Cycle Of Seven”

  1. They are very few not reprsenting anything.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
The beheading of British aid worker David Haines, Sept. 14, 2014. The terrorist standing beside him threatened that his fellow British aid volunteer, Alan Henning, would be next if UK Prime Minister David Cameron doesn't relinquish his support for the fight against ISIS.
British Muslims Plead for ISIS to Free Captive Alan Henning
Latest Judaism Stories
Teller-Rabbi-Hanoch-NEW

“he’s my rabbi” the Black painter said with pride, pulling out a photo of the Rebbe from his wallet

Rabbi Avi Weiss, head of theYeshivat Chovevei Torah. Rabbi Asher Lopatin will be replacing him as head of the school.

The Torah notes that even when we are dispersed God will return us to Him.

Rabbi Sacks

Simply, for Rambam the number 14 (2×7) was his favored organizing principle.

Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

One of the cornerstones of our Jewish life is chesed, kindness. Chesed can only be taught by example

Our understanding of what is and what is not possible creates imagined ceilings of opportunity for us.

This young, innocent child gave me a powerful, warm surge of energy and strength.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

When the Kleins returned, however, they were dismayed to see that the renters did a poor job cleaning up after themselves.

In Parshas Re’eh the Torah tells us about the bechira to adhere to the commandments of Hashem and refrain from sin. In Parshas Nitzavim, the Torah tells us that we have the choice to repent after we have sinned.

As Moshe is about to die, why does God tell him about how the Israelites will ruin everything?

Jonah objected to God accepting repentance based on ulterior motives and likely for short duration.

This week’s parsha offers a new covenant; a covenant that speaks to national life unlike any other

All Jews are inherently righteous and that is why we all have a portion in the World to Come.

More Articles from Rabbi Baruch Bodenheim
PTI-082214

Who does not want to get close to Hashem? Yet, how do we do that?

PTI-071814

Perhaps, just perhaps, we can relate to this: whenever we feel distant from Hashem, that is the Churban.

Life is what you make of it. And if our lives are defined by Torah, then these weeks of Sefira are all about making the most of it.

Eretz Yisroel’s resting during the shmittah year proclaims Hashem as the Creator of the world just as Shabbos does, for the init of time – seven – is solely connected to the creation of the world.

All the commentaries ask why Hashem focuses on the Exodus as opposed to saying, “I am Hashem who created the entire world.”

The battle on Purim was our war with Amalek; we know that Haman was a descendent of Amalek and we are commanded to annihilate that entire nation.

The Satan waits for opportunities to undo kedusha, particularly on erev Shabbos, when the potential to bring the Shechina into the world is great.

Once a person receives it, he becomes personally attached to the one who gave it to him – so attached that now he will view that person’s position as his own… and a person does not see his own faults!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/the-cycle-of-seven/2014/05/09/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: