1997YOUR TORAH NAVIGATOR
How Should I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Days
Before the Torah is given to the children of Israel, the word OMeR appears the first time. The manna that fed Israel during their time in the desert is given and their measure is referred to as an OMeR. Manna was a gift in response to the complaints of a recalcitrant Israel and through manna, shabbat is introduced as a day of rest.
After the Torah is given, the word OMeR appears in reference to an offering made in the Temple after the first day of Passover. This "wave offering" continues to be made daily for fifty days until the first fruits are brought to the Temple on Shavuot.
To link the OMeR which refers to Manna and the OMeR that refers to the Temple offering and explain how one connects to the other is what a classical midrashic interpreter would do.
Read the two Biblical passages and then make as many connections as possible.
Tanach - Exodus Chapter 16
And they took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness; And the people of Israel said to them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for you have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
Then said the Lord to Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my Torah, or not. And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
And Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, At evening, then you shall know that the Lord has brought you out from the land of Egypt; And in the morning, then you shall see the glory of the Lord; when he hears your murmurings against the Lord; and what are we, that you murmur against us? And Moses said, This shall be, when the Lord shall give you in the evening meat to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the Lord hears your murmurings which you murmur against him; and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.
And Moses spoke to Aaron, Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, Come near before the Lord; for he has heard your murmurings. And it came to pass, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the people of Israel; speak to them, saying, At evening you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God.
And it came to pass, that at evening the quails came up, and covered the camp; and in the morning the dew lay around the camp. And when the dew that lay was gone, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as hoarfrost on the ground. And when the people of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna; for they knew not what it was. And Moses said to them, This is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.
This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons, whom each of you has in his tent.
And the people of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less. And when they did measure it with an omer, he who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. However they listened not to Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank; and Moses was angry with them.
And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating; and when the sun became hot, it melted. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man; and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said to them, This is what the Lord has said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath to the Lord; bake that which you will bake today, and boil what you will boil today; and that which remains over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade; and it did not stink, neither was there any worm in it. And Moses said, Eat that today; for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you shall not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said to Moses, How long refuse you to keep my commandments and my laws?
See, because the Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide you every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day. And the house of Israel called its name Manna; and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers made with honey. And Moses said, This is what the Lord commands, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread with which I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out from the land of Egypt.
And Moses said to Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna in it, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. And the people of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they ate manna, until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan. And an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.
THE TALMUD, YOMA 86a
The students of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai asked: Why didn't the Manna come to Israel once a year [as opposed to coming each day}? He replied: I'll give you an example. It is a like a king who has only one son. He decides to give him an annual allocation, and the son would only see his father once a year. So, his father decided to give him a daily allowance, and the son then visited his father every day.
The same is true for Israel. Anyone who has four or five children would worry and say: "Maybe the Manna would not come tomorrow and all will die from hunger." This would make everyone direct their hearts to heaven.
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When you come to the land which I give to you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring a omer of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest; And he shall wave the omer before the Lord, to be accepted for you; on the next day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer that day when you wave the omer a male lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the Lord.
And the meal offering of it shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord for a sweet savor; and the drink offering of it shall be of wine, the fourth part of a hin. And you shall eat nor bread, nor parched grain, nor green ears, until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. And you shall count from the next day after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete;
To the next day after the seventh sabbath shall you count fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal offering to the Lord.
LEVITICUS RABBA 28:2
Rabbi Pnchas said, "In our reality when a person wishes to dry his clothes during the rainy season, Look at how much effort he must expend just to dry his laundry. Yet, we see that while the world sleeps the Holy One brings forth a slight wind and dries the earth. Rabbi Avin said, "Take a look at how difficult the Omer was for Israel to perform, as it is taught, "They cut it and placed it in a box and they would bring it to the Temple court, and they would singe it over the fire in order to affirm the commandment to parch the grain, said Rabbi Meir.
The sages said: They would beat the stalks and the stems so there shouldn't be too little, and then they would put it in a perforated iron tube so that the fire would surround it and they would spread it on the floor of the temple court and the wind would blow on it and then they would bring it to the gristgrinders mill.
What was this elaborate procedure for? To produce a tenth of that which was sifted in thirteen different sieves. Rabbi Levi said: Well, you plowed, planted, hoed, reaped, piled, threshed and made huge piles of wheat. If the Holy One does not bring a little wind, to winnow the wheat, what will you live from. What you bring me is merely the price of the wind. Thus it is written: "What good does it do when a man labors for the wind.
Rabbi Shimon the son of Rebbe got married. Rebbe invited all the sages, but neglected to invite Bar Kapara. Bar Kapara wrote on Rebbe's gate, "After the party one dies, so what good is the party." Rebbe went out and saw the message. "Who didn't I invite to the party that is so upset he would write these words?" He asked. They told him it was Bar Kapara. He said, "Tomorrow I will make a feast especially for him. He made the feast and made sure to invite his honored guest. After the guests arrived, they sat down to eat. Abruptly Bar Kapara arose and recited three hundred fox fables.
Meanwhile the food got cold and the guests didn't eat anything. Rebbe asked the waiters, "Why are my guests leaving without eating? They answered, "That elderly gentleman is the reason. When the food came, he recited three hundred fox fables, and the food got cold. Rebbe went over to him and asked, "Why didn't you let my guests eat their meal? He answered, "So you won't say that I only came to eat, but that it was because you originally did not invite me to be with my friends.
YOUR MIDRASH NAVIGATOR
What does the story of Bar Kapara's fox fables have to do with counting the Omer?
Can you make a connection between what Rabbi Levi said and the story of Bar Kapara's exclusion?
Prepared by Rabbi Avi Weinstein.