The letters of our thoughts are the ideas present in our mind before they come to realization . . . Thoughts that are, yet not felt . . . The words of the subconscious . . . of the soul . . .


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sefiras Haomer -B'nusach Lakewood

Taken in 'Gan Hashem' -Eseres Yemei Teshuvah 5768

While teaching children during Released Time in a shul in Queens, I happened upon a small booklet published by Beis Medrash Gevoah (Lakewood Yeshivah). A guide for Sefiras Haomer, each page had the days Hebrew and Secular dates, the Sefirah, and -as a novel concept- how many days were left until 'Kabolas Hatorah' -the receiving of the Torah on Shevuos.

Thus on page one it said,
Today is one day to the Omer

and then proudly underneath in bold letters.

Forty-nine days left to Kabolas Hatorah!

They couldn't have misunderstood the point of Sefiras Haomer any more . . .

We count down to a goal -to the take off of a space-shuttle, the end of the year, or how many days left to the summer. We await the objective -the sudden thrust of the rockets as the shuttle leaves our earthly domain, the New Year ushering in a fresh start . . . The moments in between are merely a distraction holding us back from achieving our goal. We thus hurriedly count away the time.

Sefiras Haomer is the opposite of a countdown. It's a count up.

Every moment is not a means to an end, a day to be counted down and forgotten, but rather an end unto itself. We count each day, we make it shine, and only then move unto the next -stepping up, climbing the peak . . . until we reach the top.

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Anonymous said...

To call it a booklet is overstating the case. It's simply a tablet of tear sheets to be used as a reminder to count sefira. I wouldn't ascribe any real significance to it.

Mottel said...

Fine. However the idea -that we count up, and not down, remains true (According to Halacha counting up would not even fulfill the mitzvah . . .)

Mimi said...


Having studied in more "yeshivish" settings, I can relate to Mottel's frustration here. Once you learn Chassidus, your flabbergasted at the way the non-Chabad world missed out on their explanation of things that are so fundamental.

What Mottel is pointing out is something that - albeit subtle - represents an approach that, as he describes, misses the point and the ROOT of what Sefiras Haomer is all about.

Imagine if they would have used what you call "simply a tablet of tear sheets" to transmit the deeper truth about Sefiras Haomer?

(And particularly in the case of Sefira Haomer, something so relevent and personal, the approach can make a wooooorld of difference in the life of the person who reads it. Missing out on it's true purpose and depth is almost a crime! )

I guess that's what separates Chabad from the rest. We use every detail of an opportunity to give over the whole of Torah, in all its depth and entirety.

Nemo said...

Lo Matim Mottel, Mamosh Lo Matim!

Telling other Jews that they missed the point. Lo Matim.

Mimi said...

Lol! Oh gosh...

me said...

Like the post, you have a good point, but I agree with nemo in a way...
IMHO, having learnt on both "sides of the fence" Litvish and Lubavitch are both Emes. Litvish Emes though is basic, bottom line, black and white (like their clothing etc...)
Lubavitch OTOH, is a deeper, richer, and colorful type of emes (have you seen the colors walking up Kingston Ave?)
So they make a Sefirah book-nice, simple, a countdown that's cute... But when we make a Sefirah book there is a deeper line running through it all, there is the Rebbe's advice at the turn of each page.
It seems to me that you've learnt to love the color of Lubavitch, but it's important to aknowledge and accept the "black and white".

Perel said...

I was dreading this post...
Mottel, I will try to explain my self with as much clarity as I could, remember english is only my 4th lang.
Why did you make the choice of presenting the beautiful idea of counting up the omer through attacking BMG?
Is this what you want a dvar Torah to look like? Pointing out to other jews's simplistic way of viewing sefiras HaOmer? And then bringing up your "positive" explanation of it?
Why don't we apply our ahavas yisroel to BMG as much as we apply it to a not-yet-observant jews?
Why do you let yourself judge nusach Lakewood from a stam brochure? Have you ever walked in BMG? Do you have an idea how many people are sitting and learning Torah thanks to the support of BMG?
Ad mosai already? Pointing to how bad they are and how good we are?
Your dvar Torah is soo beautiful, so true? Why put it in such a way??

Perel said...

Ok, now 5 min after the emotionally loaded comment, take it easy, I guess Nemo said it in a much classier way than I did...but some mussar ( oh oh, I said the M word) is good too.

avakesh said...

The booklet simply quotes a midrash cited by Ran at the end of Pesachim, p. 28, s.v. bhagada.

Ai, if only the chassidim knew their sources as well as the misnagdim and if only the misngdim understood them as well as the chassidim.

Mottel said...

Mimi -thanks for coming to my support . . .

Nemo -I sense a duality of jokes going on around here.

ME -I due respect other 'paths' in Yiddishkiet (be they Torah true etc.), but I'm not sure if this is an issue of a 'Litvishe' (though most of them aren't Litvish -an old issue) approach. It was a cute idea that wasn't thought out fully (as I mentioned, according to Halacha such a counting is also moot)

Let me clarify here . . . (Perel I'm talking to you :-) )

My point was in no way meant to criticize BMG -they were merely the publishers of the booklet, had anyone else written it (Chabad, Satmar, Breslov, whatever) my point would have remained true. There is nothing wrong with the booklet -anything that will lead others to keep the mitzvah of Sefiras Haomer is great. I commend them for it. I merely wanted to point out that the concept of counting down was not in line with the idea of Sefiras Haomer's preparation for the Torah

-Avakesh: I missed that part -is there a copy of that mirdrash online?

But, if people want to jump, let me at least give you guys a statement worthy of working yourselves up over:

When the Rosh, Rabbi E. Schochet (who in fact would often mention the idea of counting up -so all blame goes to him) was a bochur in Lakewood, he would learn with R' Aharon Kotler z"l (does that work for everyone?).
When it came time for Shevuos, he requested permission to spend it in 770.
R' Aharon told him,
"'Meila you want to be by Lubavitch for Simchas Torah, I would understand. But Kabalos Hatorah is in Lakewood."

To which the Rosh replied (I've heard two versions),
"Kabalos Hatorah may be in Lakewood, but Moshe Rabeinu (or the Nosein Hatorah) is in 770."

Now you have something to discuss.

Mimi said...

Pssshhhh, wow. I love those stories.
Wowowowowowow. Straight to the point, eh?

me... said...

That's a great story with the Rosh! Nice nice :) What did R'Kotler reply?

Look at this... You've gotten a Torah post with already 12 posts lol. Controversy breeds to comments aye?

Perel said...

I *love* the story, and i know u understood my point.

Mottel said...

I'm glad we can all agree on something . . .

Long Beach Chasid said...

Doesnt Shammai say to count down while Hillel says to count up? I could be wrong if so point out my error.

While being critical of the non Chassidic way to look at the Omer you missed a beautiful point.

Going up or going down still gets you to the Torah.

Nemo said...

LBC- That's in reference to lighting candles on Channukah.

Long Beach Chasid said...

Im aware of the channukah candle debate and wasnt confusing this with that. I thought there was also a disagreement between the omer counting. You are saying there is not or must I look myself.

Either way, my end point still stands.

Nemo said...

I could be wrong ... been quite a while since I've really studied. I know the famous Machlokes though.

Long Beach Chasid said...

I asked a Rav and he said the only machlokes is if the Mitzva of Omer is 1 whole mitzvah broken up into 49 or each day is a mitzvah itself.

I already knew that though but he said there is no arguement of how to count because its Dyorisa.