Friday, May 6, 2011
"Until the day following the seventh week you shall count fifty days, and you shall offer a new mincha to Hashem" (Vayikra 23, 16). Rashi explains that the Torah refers to this korban mincha as a new offering since it is the first offering to be brought from the new crop of grain. Rashi continues that although the minchas ha'omer was brought earlier (on the second day of Pesach) it is not reckoned as the first mincha because it was unique since it was brought from barley as opposed to the rest of the minachos that were brought from wheat.
Rav Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash) points out that there is one other mincha that was brought from barley: the mincha of a sotah. He elaborates on the reason behind this phenomenon. Every physical object has a spiritual counterpart. These minachos were brought from se'orim (barley) which has a linguistic connotation of sa'arah (hair). Chazal tell us that Hashem judges the righteous meticulously and punishes them for even an infraction the size of "a hairsbreadth." In other words, se'orim connote, and therefore arouse, Hashem's judgment.
A sotah brings a barley offering since her situation warrants Divine judgment. Is she guilty of adultery and deserving of punishment via the bitter waters or is she innocent and worthy to be blessed with beautiful children. In a similar fashion Bnei Yisroel would bring a barley offering after the first day of Pesach. A day earlier they experienced freedom from bondage, for as we know the exodus was not a onetime event. Rather, we revisit and relive that momentous occasion each year on the Seder night, as per the commandment to feel as if we left Mitzrayim. Hence, there was a need to judge Bnei Yisroel. How have they utilized their newfound freedom? Has it galvanized them into a greater service of The Creator, or have they, G-d forbid, strayed from the proper path?
Though we no longer have the Beis Hamikdosh and the minachos, nevertheless, we do have the ability to experience freedom on the night of the Seder. We must then ask ourselves how these feelings have affected us. Do we have, or are we at least working toward, a greater level of emuna? Are we even a tad less enslaved to our yetzer hara and our desires? This is the lesson of the minchas ha'omer. Let us take it to heart and apply it to our lives. One single paragraph in the Chazon Ish's sefer emunah u'bitachon (available in Hebrew and English), read during a coffee break, over the phone or during supper, can aid us in attaining greater levels of emunah - which freedom from bondage should engender.