This week we learn, read and live the Torah reading Emor. We read (and learn) the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avos.
Sunday is the festive holiday of L'ag B'Omer.
The Mitzvah of Sefiras Ha'Omer, the counting of the 49 days of the Omer, is one of the highlights of Emor.
The counting of the Omer is a preparation for Shavuos, the Giving of the Torah.
When counting the Omer each day, we actually reflect on a particular מדה, attribute, and it's detailed dimension.
Generally, there are seven emotional Midos -attributes - or character traits - beginning with חסד - kindness, and concluding with מלכות - kingship.
These seven Midos are further subdivided into seven, beginning with חסד שבחסד - kindness within kindness, on the first day of the Omer, and concluding with מלכות שבמלכות - kingship within kingship, on the 49th and final day of the Omer.
Torah can only be properly received (and studied) if one refines his character as a preparation for Torah study. Otherwise, Torah is merely treated as an intellectual subject, lacking the acceptance of its G-dly nature and its purpose of elevating man.
Sefira- ספירה - means to count. But Sapir - ספיר - also means to shine. When one works every day on refining one's character traits, the נשמה - soul - of the person that is by nature concealed, begins to shine.
Lag B'Omer commemorates the passing of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, author of the Zohar.
Lag B'Omer also commemorates the ceasing of the plague of the students of Rabbi Akiva, who was the teacher of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai.
24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva perished, because they did not show respect for each other.
Despite being the students of Rabbi Akiva, who said that "Love your fellow man is a great principle in the Torah", there was something seriously lacking in the refinement of their Midot.
During the days of Sefirah, and especially on Lag B'Omer, we focus on refining our character, exhibiting true Ahavas Yisrael, and allowing our "souls to shine".
Our souls shining on Lag B'Omer is connected to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and to Emor.
Although Rabbi Shimon was thoroughly versed and scholarly in נגלה דתורה - the revealed parts of Torah, he is most renowned in פנימיות התורה, the innermost teachings of the Torah, specifically the Zohar.
Zohar means to shine.
Emor begins with the instruction אמר, ואמרת, - "Tell the Kohanim the children of Aharon, and relate to them..."
Our sages, noting the apparent redundancy of the commands, "tell", and "relate", explain that the verse is intended, להזהיר גדולים על הקטנים, "to charge the adults, [with the education of] the children."
The word להזהיר, to charge, also means to shine, as does the word Zohar.
So when we count the Omer, and celebrate Lag B'Omer, we are 1- in the process of "shining and refining our Midos - character traits", 2- focusing on the most shining and innermost teachings of the Torah, and 3- shining upon (and educating) the up and coming generation of young boys and girls, so that they in true innocence and purity, follow in the footsteps of Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon, and lead the world to perfection.
Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus
THE MOSHIACH WATCH: The Lag B'Omer Parades, in which Jewish children march in the streets of hundreds of cities throughout the world, with banners promoting Torah and Mitzvos, are a vivid expression of how the streets, the רשות הרבים, the public domain, will ultimately reflect the רשות היחיד, the private domain, specifically of the יחידו של עולם, the one and only Hashem, who governs and rules all over the world.
Indeed, when the Rebbe would exit 770, to participate in the Lag B'Omer Parades on Eastern Parkway, the band would play אני מאמין - I believe...in the coming of Moshiach.
Lag B'Omer and its גאוה יהודית - expression of Jewish pride, especially by Jewish children on public thoroughfares, is a foretaste of the days of Moshiach.