B”H
TORAH BRIEFS
SPEAK!
The title of this week’s Torah portion is Emor, which means speak. The message for our day and age is that with modern technology we are forgetting how to communicate.
A human being is called a midaber, a speaker, because he or she can communicate the deepest ideas and feelings to others, particularly our children.
When we forget how to communicate, we lose a significant part of our humanity.
The continuity of Jewish life in particular requires our ability to speak; to transmit he Divine knowledge given to Moses at Mount Sinai and passed down generation to generation. Without the art of verbal communication Judaism and the Jewish people could not have survived.
Now, that we stand on the cusp of the Messianic Age, we must redouble our efforts to communicate to the world that we must get ready to greet Moshiach and welcome a world of truth, peace and G‑dly light
 
THE OMER OF EMOR
 
Uniqueness of Emor
Every parsha has at least one salient feature that distinguishes it from all other Torah portions.
Emor is unique in that it features all of the Jewish Holidays: Shabbos, Passover, “Counting the Omer”, Shavuos, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkos.
Even the rabbinical holidays of Chanukah and Purim are hinted in this week’s parsha, for everything is hinted in the Torah, even future events.
Right after the Torah concludes the discussion of Sukkos, it discusses lighting of the Menorah in the Mishkan. This is an obvious hint at Chanukah, which was based on the miraculous light of the Menorah that lasted for eight days instead of one.
 
The Hint to Purim
What about Purim?
One may suggest that it is hinted at in the laws of the Omer-barley offering brought on the second day of Passover, as discussed in this week’s parsha.
The connection with Purim is based on materials found in the Talmud and Midrash. When Mordechai asked Queen Esther to plead with Achashveirosh to spare the Jewish people, she asked everyone to fast three days and nights before she approached the king. Accordingly, Mordechai called on everyone in the Jewish community to fast and beseech G‑d to save the Jewish people.
The call to fast occurred on the 13th day of the Month of Nissan. Three days later, on the second day of Passover and before Esther approached the king on behalf of her brethren, Mordechai gathered Jewish children at the gate to the palace and began teaching the laws about offering an Omer measure of barley in the Bais Hamikdash.
When Haman saw that the children were learning these laws, he became dismayed and understood that his evil plot would be defeated.
We learn from this that the salvation of the Jewish people culminating in the festival of Purim was brought on by the children in their study of the laws of the Omer offering.
What was it about the Omer study in particular that brought about the defeat of the wicked Haman and enabled the miracle of Purim?
 
Build the Bais Hamikdash!
The following is based on a talk of the Rebbe, in which he referenced an exchange between the prophet Ezekiel and G‑d. Ezekiel prophesied in the period following the destruction of the first Bais Hamikdash. As the Temple lay in ruins, G‑d told him to instruct the Jewish people in the minutest details involved in the construction of the next Bais Hamikdash. Ezekiel was incredulous. “The Temple lies in ruins and You want me to teach them about the fine details of the Bais Hamikdash?”
G‑d’s response was: “By learning the laws concerning the dimensions of the Bais Hamikdash, etc., it is as if you are actually engaged in its construction.”
When Haman came upon Mordechai and the children, they knew the grave danger they were in. Yet, they were preoccupied with building the Bais Hamikdash and nearly oblivious to the threat that hovered over them. They were focused on the laws of the Omer, which would have been offered that very day had there been a Bais Hamikdash. To them it was anything but an academic exercise; in their world they were in the Bais Hamikdash and preparing to offer the Omer!
Their dedication to Torah and the Bais Hamikdash was so great that the most important thing for them was to learn the laws of the Omer, as if the Bais Hamikdash stood and they were offering the Omer of barley to G‑d.
This, Haman realized, was a sign that the Jewish people were invincible and that he would ultimately fail and his plan come to naught. Haman realized that a people whose children live in the future and are not fazed by the most formidable forces of Galus cannot be destroyed.
 
The Lesson for Today: Live in the Future!
The obvious lesson for today is that, in these last days of Galus as we stand on the threshold of the Messianic Age when the Bais Hamikdash will be rebuilt, it behooves us to live with and in the future.  First and foremost, we must study what the Torah has to say about life generally in the future and the laws concerning the Bais Hamikdash in particular.
 
The Rationale for the Omer
Another explanation for why Haman realized that studying the laws of the Omer predicted his downfall is based on the rationale for the Mitzvah of offering the Omer of barley on the second day of Passover.
The Chinuch writes that it is our way of showing gratitude to G‑d for the barley harvest, the first of the growing season. It was also the day we start counting the days to the Giving of the Torah on Shavuos.
However, the Chinuch asks why the Omer was not brought until the second day of Passover. His answer is that the Torah did not want the Omer offering to overshadow the celebration of the Exodus on the first day of Passover.
One may add to this explanation that we should feel grateful to G‑d, not only for the big things in life or a once-in-a-lifetime gift, but for the everyday gifts we receive from Him.
On the first day of Passover we must focus on the unprecedented revelation of G‑d, who plucked us out of Egypt and saved us from extinction. However, on the second day of Passover we express our gratitude for normal, natural and daily blessings such as the barley harvest. Even though, our Sages tell us, barley was considered animal fodder and far less significant than wheat, which was intended for human consumption.
When we thank G‑d exclusively for His big miracles, it suggests that we perceive G‑d as not really involved in the day-to-day aspects of our existence. If that were the case, then G‑d would only be present in obvious miracles. Otherwise, He remains hidden and we are left to depend on the forces of nature. The lesson here is that we must be grateful even for the least significant of His blessings in our lives.
 
Explaining Haman’s Defeat
Haman knew that the Jews were living in Persia at a time of Divine concealment. Not coincidentally, Esther’s name means “concealment.” Haman, aware of G‑d’s concealment from the Jewish people, was overjoyed because it meant to him that an “absent” G‑d would not intervene to save the Jews.
However, when Haman saw how the children were so engrossed in Mordechai’s lesson on the laws of the Omer, which focused on feeling gratitude for the ordinary, he knew that his wicked plot would fail.  He realized that G‑d was indeed very much a part of the day-to-day aspect of Jewish life and would thwart his plan.
With the advent of the Messianic Age, we will be fully exposed to both aspects of G‑d; the supernatural force who can change nature if need be, and the indivisible G‑d who is involved in our lives on a daily basis. Then we will express our joy and gratitude for both. Let’s prepare for that day by incorporating both forms of praise and gratitude to G‑d in our prayers and studies.