Weekly Story: Much More Than Just Counting

by Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon

It was brought to my attention that last weeks’ story had an inaccuracy. The Rebbe did not instruct the bochur to stand behind a chair, but rather the Rebbe himself stood behind his chair and asked is it possible to jump over etc.

I thank those who pointed it out and to all who give feedback. It is truly appreciated.

This week, as we are concluding the sefira and preparing for Matan Torah, I am sharing the following thought that I discussed with someone over the phone about sefiras Ha’omer.

When the Mitteler Rebbe was young, his melamed Reb Avrohom explained the saying of our sages (Shabbos 118a) Auvuch b’mai havi zohir tefei to mean, “In which mitzvah was your father most scrupulous?”

When the Mitteler Rebbe heard this explanation he chuckled, indicating that he really didn’t accept that as the correct meaning. He said, “Do you think that the great sage Rabbah was meticulous only in one mitzvah – the mitzvah of tztzis – and not all the other mitzvos? That cannot possibly be true!”

So the melamed asked him how he would explain the question. He replied, “It means, ‘through which mitzvah did your father shine so that, that mitzvah gives life and vitality to the fulfillment of all the other mitzvos he does?”

With this thought we can understand the definition the Alter Rebbe gives for sefiras ha’omer. The simple translation means counting of the days from when we brought the korban ha’omer on the second day of Pesach, until the day the Torah was given to us. We count with anticipation for forty-nine days, expressing our desire and enjoyment to receive the Torah.

However, the Alter Rebbe states the word sefartem has the same root as the word (eivein) sapir, which is a sapphire stone which shines. In other words, counting the Omer is not merely counting the seven weeks – forty nine days. But it has a deeper meaning. We have to polish ourselves, and shine brightly.

I am positive that every reader of this column participated last week in the Hatzalathon and helped it be a tremendous success. In their humility, most hatzalah members claim they are ordinary people. But we look at them as they shine in that particular mitzvah of Ahavas Yisroel of saving a life. That is their spark plug or as they call it their defibrillator, springing them to life.

The Alter Rebbe is informing us and urging us, “It is wonderful that you are doing the mitzvahs and learning Torah, but you should strive to shine. Take one mitzvah and do it with extra vigor and concentration; that will bring more life into every mitzvah you do.”

Author’s note: After writing the above, I thought that perhaps this is connected to what Chassidus explains why it is important to know that bnei yisroel were counted. When something is counted, it is called in halacha duvor b’minyan and a duvor b’minyan is never nullified.

The simple explanation for this is, when one buys five pounds of an item, they are not counting how fruits or candies are in those five pounds, sometimes it is a little more and other times a little less than normal. But when one buys miniatures, they specify an amount of items, as each one is needed. If you have twenty people at a meeting and there are only nineteen seats, it is embarrassing.

So by counting us, Hashem is informing us that each and every individual is important and when you realize that you are being counted that raises you to a higher level. Then you will shine in your particular mission that Hashem has entrusted you, to use your skills and talents to make this physical world into a dwelling place for Him.

Rabbi Avtzon is a veteran mechanech and the author of numerous books on the Rebbeim and their chassidim. He can be contacted at avtzonbooks@gmail.com

This week’s story is l’zechus Chaya Rivkah bas Cheyena and all cholei yisroel for a speedy refual shleima

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