This week, we present a letter from the Rebbe, sent during the days of Sefiras Ha’omer in 1974, in which he explains that Sefirah is a mitzvah that transcends time and place, and reflects our inner longing for true liberation from our inner limitations and confinements. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
By the Grace of G-d
29th of Nissan, 5734
New York, N.Y. 10017
Greeting and Blessing:
To conclude on the opening note of my letter, it is an old Jewish custom to relate current happenings to the current event in the Jewish calendar. We are now in the period of Sefirah (Counting of the Days of the Omer) which links Pesach, the Festival of Our Liberation, with Shovuot, the Festival of Our Receiving the Torah. Traditionally this Counting goes back to the Exodus from Egypt, when our ancestors, on learning that they were to receive the Torah at Sinai, began to count the days and weeks in eager anticipation of the greatest thing that was to happen to our people and to the world, the Revelation and the Giving of the Torah at Sinai. And, as is in all matters of Torah and mitzvoth, which are not limited in time and space, the Counting of the Omer likewise spans over physical factors separating Jews from one generation to the other, or from place to place, so that all Jews, whether in the United States or in the Soviet Union, are united also by this mitzvah with all the past generations of Jews and with all Jews in different parts of the world. It is a mitzvah which bespeaks the inner longing of Jews for true liberation, not only from physical bondage, but also and especially from spiritual limitations; a mitzvah which brings home the realization that such true and complete freedom is attainable only through the illumination of the G-d-given Torah and mitzvoth. Moreover, as “in those days at this season,” when the counting of the days and weeks was not merely an expression of longing, but was also a period of progressive preparation to become worthy of the great Divine gift, so much so that they reached the sublime heights of intuition and insight, to realize that Naaseh (“We will do”) comes before v’Nishma (“We will understand”) and accepted the Torah on this principle – so our Counting of the Omer is also meant to induce in us the same actual experience.
With all good wishes and
The above letter is from The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP).
These letters were written originally in English and were prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, whose responsibility it was the Rebbe’s correspondence in English and several other languages.
We thank Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, who was entrusted by his father-in-law Rabbi Mindel with his archives and who is Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), for making the Rebbe’s letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.