by HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir
The counting of the Omer comes between two Minchah offerings, the barley offering brought on the second day of Pesach, and the wheat offering brought on Shavuot. Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook explains that these two offerings hint to us about man’s gradual spiritual improvement. That is, the Rabbis viewed barley as an animal food, alluding to man on a bestial level, and they viewed wheat as a food for human beings, alluding to the highest spiritual level man has ever achieved, that of the Sinai Revelation.
When an infant is born, we ask how much he weighed. By the time he comes under the marriage canopy, however, we have other questions. We want to know if he is a good person with good traits and good deeds. It is the same during the counting of the Omer. At the start of Pesach we are preoccupied with the Jews’ material and physical survival, and at the end, when we get to Shavuot, we are more concerned with the spiritual level of the indidual Jew and the Jewish People.
Right now, our national rebirth is undergoing a similar process. In our prayers we beseech G-d to “bring us speedily to our land, with our heads held high [komemiyut].” Based on the word “komemiyut,” which appears in Leviticus 26:13, our sages (Bava Batra 75a) teach that redemption will come in two “komot” or stages. In the first stage, we are occupied with the physical construction of a state, but we are advancing on to the next stage, involving the spiritual status of the nation, as at the Revelation.
Similarly in the past, we left Egyptian servitude for political freedom, and from there we marched on towards the Sinai Revelation, fifty days after the Exodus, where we achieved everlasting spiritual freedom.
Through achievement of this political and spiritual freedom together, with the People of Israel living in the Land of Israel, may we merit to see all mankind enjoying material plenty and spiritual light and everything that is good, as indeed G-d promised Abraham: “Go away from your land... to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation... You shall become a blessing. All the families of the earth shall be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3).
Looking forward to complete salvation,