Shabbat Parashat Naso
May 31, 2014 – 2 Sivan 5774
Looking Forward to Shavuot!
We’ve been counting the days, day by day, since the second night of Pesach. We call it Sefirat HaOmer – the Counting of the Omer – named for a small measure of the barley harvest that was brought to the Temple in ancient times. Our ancestors counted 50 days from Passover to the holiday of Shavuot, and we continue their tradition. Reciting a blessing each evening at the beginning of the new day along with the numbering of each of the 50 days, our ancestors linked the holiday of our Exodus from Egypt, to the holiday of Shavuot, when according to our Sages, our people gathered round a small mountain in the Sinai desert, to receive the Torah.
For us, the holiday of Shavuot is right around the corner! If you have been reciting the blessing each evening, and keeping count, you know that this Friday is the 45th day of the Omer. On Tuesday evening, we will usher in the holiday of Shavuot and we will celebrate the holiday on Wednesday and on Thursday of this coming week!
How easy is it for us to recite a blessing each evening, as we anticipate the coming day? Of course that depends on how we view the days of our lives…
Looking back at this past week, it is hard to overlook the many violent episodes that have been reported in the news both here, in the United States, in Santa Barbara, and in Europe where incidents of an overtly anti-semitic nature have taken the lives of innocent people and have left others maimed and scarred for life.
Yet, according to our tradition, we respond each night during Sefirat HaOmer, with the recitation of a blessing, in anticipation of the next day of life.
This Friday, as we recite the blessing and count the next day, we look forward to Shabbat, in which we will read the weekly Torah portion of Naso, containing the threefold blessing:
Y’varech’ch Adonai v’yish’m’recha
Ya’er Adonai panav eylecha v’y’chuneka
Yisa Adonai panav eylecha, v’yasem l’cha Shalom.
May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord show you kindness and be gracious to you.
May the Lord bestow favor upon you, and grant you peace.
It is the blessing of peace that we transmit from person to person, from generation to generation, from day to day.
We also look forward to Shavuot, when we will celebrate the giving of the Torah. It offers us a mindset of Jewish living, that reminds us daily of the precious gift of life and of the value of performing acts of loving kindness. These resonate with the vision of peace and of harmony that will one day be, as our prophets foretold, the overwhelming reality of our world.
On Shavuot, there is a tradition to read the Biblical Scroll of Ruth. In the Midrash (Ruth Rabbah 2:14), Rabbi Ze’ira remarks: “This scroll (Ruth) does not deal with purity and impurity, or with what is prohibited or permitted. Why then was it written? To teach how great is the reward of those who perform acts of loving kindness!”
May the Counting of the Omer, and the holiday of Shavuot, help us to embrace, with a full heart, a vision of joy and of hope for these days and for all the days of our life.
Wishing you and your loved ones a Shabbat Shalom and a very happy Shavuot!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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