Rabbi Shmuel Silber - Parsha Perspectives: Emor-Free but Priceless

By Rabbi Shmuel Silber

Posted on 05/04/23

Parshas HaShavua Divrei Torah sponsored by
Dr. Shapsy Tajerstein, DPM - Podiatry Care.
(410) 788-6633

From the time we are young children, we count down to
exciting life events. We count the days until a birthday and the end of school.
As we get older, we still count down. We count the days until graduation, a
wedding, a much-needed vacation, or other life milestones. In this week’s
Parsha, G-D commanded us to count the days from Pesach leading up to Shavuos
when we would receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. “And you shall count for
yourselves, from the morrow of the rest day from the day you bring the omer as
a wave offering seven weeks; they shall be complete. You shall count until the
day after the seventh week, [namely,] the fiftieth day, [on which] you shall
bring a new meal offering to the Lord (Vayikra 23:15-16).” But why the need to

How does counting imbue these days with any additional holiness? On a
basic level, we are taught that our exodus was not an ends; it was a means to
receive the Torah. We were not taken out of Egypt simply to be free and without
a human master. We were emancipated because we had (and have) something to
contribute. Our nation has the ability to be a light unto the nations. But in
order for the light to burn and illuminate, there must be fuel. The Torah is
our fuel, the commandments are the oil for our national wick, allowing us to
burn bright and dispel the darkness. We count the days from Pesach to Shavuos
to remind ourselves that our freedom must be used for spiritual accomplishment.
We count the days of the Omer to remind ourselves of our national mandate to
make this world a better place.

There is something very interesting about the verbiage
used in the verse quoted above. The Torah does not simply tell us “to count,”
rather, G-D instructs us, “And you shall count for yourselves, U’Sfartem
Lachem.” What is the meaning of this phrase “Lachem, for you”? It is intriguing
that a number of our initial commandments and mitzvos share a common theme –
time. The first national mitzvah was Kiddush HaChodesh, sanctification of the
new moon. G-D told Moshe, “HaChodesh HaZeh Lachem Rosh Chodashim, this month is
for you the first of all months (Shemos 12:2).” Again, we see this same word
“Lachem, for you.” Two of our initial commandments – both focused on time.
Perhaps, Hashem was trying to convey to us an all-important lesson for
meaningful living. Kiddush HaChodesh (sanctification of the new month) reminds
us that we control our months and Sefiras HaOmer (the counting of the days
between Pesach and Shavuos) reminds us that we control our days and our weeks.

We control our time. Time humbles all men. Influence, power, and connections
can get you many things. But the one thing that no amount of “protexia” can
procure and acquire for you – is time. Time is a finite, non-renewable
resource. No matter how much you yearn for more – you simply can’t create it.
Although we can’t generate additional quantities of time, we can most
definitely control the time we have been given. Time is the greatest treasure G-D bestowed upon us as a free nation. It is the currency of accomplishment and
self-advancement. Without it you can do nothing, go nowhere; with it, the sky
is the limit. People often say, “if only I had more time – there are so many
things I would like to do.”

These mitzvos remind us that we have complete
autonomy over how we use our time. It is true – there may not be enough time to
accomplish everything you want to accomplish – so choose carefully. Decide what
is important and focus your energies. We are limited in the duration of our
time in this world but have sole discretion as to how to use the time we are
given. Time is the start-up capital for our greatest initiative – life. Invest
it wisely. Perhaps, this is why the Torah uses the word “Lachem, for you” by
both of the aforementioned commandments. G-D is not simply telling us to count.
He is instructing us to “make it count for ourselves.”

The month is yours –
decide what you are going to accomplish. The week is yours – decide what needs
to get done. The day is yours – contemplate how to maximize and squeeze
precious meaning and productivity from every holy moment. Not a week goes by
without a new “time saving device” being introduced in the technological
marketplace. We are constantly connected, wired, and plugged in. Ostensibly,
the goal of our devices is to maximize productivity and “save time.” But have
we really saved any time? And even if we have, how do we use this newfound

The reality is that for many of us, the time saved is just used
for more work. The additional time has not gone to our families, to our
learning or to acts of chessed. It has gone to more emails, more meetings, and
more deals. For others this additional time has led to more time spent online
wandering the internet, posting every last bit of information (much of it too
personal for public consumption) on Twitter or Facebook, or chas v’shalom
losing one’s self in inappropriate sites and material. As William Penn wrote,
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” Our time on this earth
belongs to each of us. My hours and minutes belong to me, and it is up to me to
use them purposefully. As we count the days until Shavuos, let us find the
courage and strength to maximize our weeks, find the meaning in each day, and
take advantage of every moment.