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Three Months and Three Kinds of Food

05/16/2019 11:10:39 AM

May16

Rabbi Kornfeld

Three Months and Three Kinds of Food

In the Torah, only three months are explicitly connected with the Exodus: Nisan, Iyyar, and Sivan.  Nisan is the month when the Exodus occurred, and we celebrate it with the holiday of Pesach.  Iyyar is the month in which we count the Omer every one of its days.  Sivan is when the Revelation at Sinai happened, the Torah was given, and Judaism was founded and celebrated with the Holiday of Shavuot.  The purpose and goal of the Exodus from Egypt was the giving of the Torah.  The seven weeks of the Omer were the necessary process to get from Egypt to Sinai. 

On Pesach we are commanded to eat Matzah, and prohibited to eat, or even own Chametz, leavened bread.  The Omer offering was composed of barley, and on Shavuot we are commanded to offer, in the Jerusalem Temple, two loaves of leavened wheat flour. 

Barley is animal food, as opposed to wheat.  Why would G-d command an offering, made of animal food?  On Pesach we are prohibited to have Chametz.  Spiritually, as leaven raises the dough, it represents pride and haughtiness, negative character traits.  If so, why is it permitted all year, and a Mitvah on Shavuot?

King Solomon writes in the Song of Songs, “Draw me, we will run after You, the King has brought me into His chamber.”  These are three phrases, and three phases of the Exodus.  “Draw me” refers to the Exodus itself. “We will run after You” refers to Counting of the Omer.  “The King has brought me etc.” refers to the Revelation at Sinai. 

The Jewish people did not deserve the Exodus, for they were assimilated into the idolatrous lifestyle of the Egyptians.  “Draw me” refers to G-d’s initiative to seize the Jews and redeem them.  They were freed from slavery, but they were not changed.   Their bodies were no longer enslaved, but their inner souls had not changed. 

But in order to receive the Torah, the Jews had to transform their inner selves, to deserve the Torah.  “We will run after You” refers to the Jewish people’s initiative to come closer and closer to G-d.  This is the spiritual service of the Counting of the Omer, to refine character traits, and sublimate animalistic desires.  The Jews became elevated and worthy to receive the Torah.  

“The King has brought me into His chambers” refers to the intimate relationship established between G-d and the Jews through Torah.  Through studying Torah and fulfilling its Mitzvot, we become one with G-d. 

So, on Pesach, representing a very low spiritual level, pride, haughtiness, and spiritual leaven, can further degrade, and must be avoided totally.  However, when a Jew is engaged in self-refinement, then leaven is permitted, because one is able to use it in his service of G-d.  On Shavuot when we reach a level of intimacy with G-d we are empowered and obligated to use and sublimate all of our character traits for good and holy purposes.  

Sat, July 20 2019 17 Tammuz 5779