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SEFIRAS HAOMER (THE COUNTING OF THE OMER)
Rabbi Avraham Brandwein of Jerusalem 5763 #14 (in translation)
It is written in the Torah (Leviticus 23:15-16), "And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the rest day- seven weeks, they shall be complete. Until the morrow of the seventh week you shall count fifty days." The Mitzvah of counting (Sefira) was also connected to the offering of the Omer (a measure) from the first harvest of barley (in the Holy Temple). This Mitzvah started the day after the first Holiday day of Passover (and continued) until Shavuos (Pentecost).
The goal of the exodus from Egypt was the receiving of the Torah.
The goal of the exodus from Egypt was the receiving of the Torah, as they stood at Mount Sinai. As it is written by the first revelation of Hakadosh Baruch Hu to Moshe at the burning bush, Hakadosh Baruch Hu said to him, "When you take out this Nation from Egypt, you will serve the Lord on this mountain." This means that the goal of the going out of Egypt was to stand at Mount Sinai, when the Children of Israel would receive the Torah. And to receive the Torah they needed to be purified, refined, and to correct their Middos (behavioral attributes). Such Avodah (service) is only able to be done from the one below- (initiative) and not by the one above, rather the levels above only receive for the sake of assisting (the ones below). This preparation is called the arousal from below (Issarusa Delisata).
The days of Sefirah are the days of Din
The days of the Sefirah are considered as days of Din (sternness and judgment). It is well known that during these days twenty four thousand students of Rabbi Akiva passed away, because they did not behave with proper respect towards each other. First, let us briefly explain the term Dinim. Dinim in general are considered harmful and destructive. But the truth is, that in their makeup, the Dinim are not negative, but the matter is dependent on how they are used. (See the Talmud of the Ten Sefiros, Volume 13, in the Ohr Penimi page ) and through this, the free choice is given to man how to make use of them. For example, fire is considered harmful and a destroyer, but we see that from fire it is possible to bring out good and important things. For if we place a pot with water on the fire, it is possible produce from this a benefit. Therefore, specifically in these days, which are the days of Din, it is possible to repair the Dinim and to convert them to attributes of mercy.
Sefirah - Purification
The ten sefiros are called Kesser (Crown), Chochmah (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), Chessed (Kindness), Gevurah (Strength), Netzach (Victory), Hod (Splendor), Yesod (Foundation), and Malchus (Kingship). The first three sefiros, Kesser, Chochmah and Binah, are the roots of the lights, while the seven lower sefiros are the attributes of action. Therefore, the Avodah of refining the Middos is in the lower seven Sefiros. The days of Sefirah are compared to the counting of the seven days of purification of a (menstruant) woman before her purification (in the ritual bath). So too, every person needs to examine and refine their Middos, so that they be clean from all stains, as a preparation to approach the lofty standing to receive the Torah.
There is an important rule in spirituality that every Sefirah is made up and inclusive of all other sefiros. There is no Sefirah that is independent by itself. The first reason is because there is no "lack" in the spiritual worlds. Every Sefirah that shines and reveals, first passes through the higher Sefirah and afterwards descends to its place. Since it was in the previous Sefirah, and there is no "loss" in the spiritual worlds, therefore, the light of the Sefirah remains in the upper Sefirah, even when the Sefirah itself descends from there to its place.
Because of the rule of inclusiveness, every Sefirah is comprised of seven sefiros. Therefore, there are seven weeks. In every week, we have the intention to repair one Sefirah from the seven Sefiros: Chessed, Gevurah, Tiferes, Netzach, Hod, Yesod, and Malchus (Chagat Nehi).
An Inverted value between vessels and light
We need to know, that in order to draw down a great light, there needs to be great thickness (coarseness, unrefinement), which is (defined as a) great (selfish) desire, since the light is drawn out, (only) in accord to the greatness of the desire (to receive the light). But on the other hand, all light is fine (pure, refined), and therefore cannot shine in a coarse vessel, because of which the light was drawn. Therefore, it shines in the finest vessel. (We see from this), that two types of vessels are always needed in every level. On one side there must be a coarse vessel to draw out the light, and on the second side there must be a fine vessel for the enclothment of the light.
Repair of the Middos
We will now explain what is the repair of damaged Middos. This is not the place to explain all seven inclusivenesses of all of the Middos. Let us only take the Sefirah of Malchus. In the prayer, which was brought above, we pray that it should be repaired what I have damaged in the Sefirah of Chessed of Malchus. The repair is primarily with regards to the relationships between people. Since the condition for the receiving of the Torah was the love between people, as it is written by the assembly at Mount Sinai, "And Israel (in the singular) camped next to the mountain." The usage of the singular verb, "And He camped", (rather than the proper grammar of "And they camped") was to show that they were like one man with one heart. So too, the students of Rabbi Akiva died during these days, since they did not have proper respect for each other. And it is well known the saying of Rabbi Akiva, "And you should love others like yourself, this is the great rule in Torah." And also the saying of Hillel the Elder to the convert who asked, "Rebbi, teach me all of the Torah on one foot." Hillel replied to him, "What you hate, do not do to others. This is all of the Torah, and the rest is an explanation for the rule. Go study the Torah." Therefore, one must pay special attention during these days to repair the Middos between people, as a preparation for the receiving of the Torah.
Chessed of Malchus
One needs to behave with the attribute of Chessed of Malchus. This means that a government does Chessed with its inhabitants, without considering whether they acknowledge or value the Chessed the government is doing for them. So too, each person should do a Chessed to others, without considering what benefit they will derive (in return) or how they will be praised by others. This is the Chessed of Malchus.
Gevurah of Malchus
This attribute is to be strong over one's Middos. When a person gets angry at another etc., they need to behave with the Middah of Malchus. This means that the person should have a broad perspective, not a narrow perspective by entering into a smallness of mind, but rather to understand that every person, whose actions are not good, must certainly have a problem with themselves, and that their bad behavior is not a product of evil.
Tiferes of Malchus
This attribute teaches us that when we do acts of Chessed or any Mitzvah that they should be done with appropriate respect and beauty. This is as Chazal teach about one who fulfills the Mitzvah of honoring one's parents, but without a smile. There is no value to such a Mitzvah. This means to say that even in the performance of a Mitzvah, one needs to be particular, to do it, not just to fulfill one's obligation, but also to give a good feeling to another person, when doing a Chessed for them or charity. It is possible to fulfill the Mitzvah by just giving. However, it is also possible to add to this a great beautification, by smiling and a showing a shining face. This is the beauty of the Mitzvah. This is Tiferes of Malchus. Thereby, one fulfills the Mitzvah of attaching to G-d and going in His ways, by acting like a compassionate King, who does good to his people, as it says in the prayer of Shemoneh Esray, "For in the light of Your face, you have given us the Torah of Life and the love of Chessed, etc.
Netzach of Malchus
There are two meanings to the Sefirah of Netzach. First is from the term of victory, and the second is from the term of eternity. They are tied together. When a person is victorious over their desires, this is done by way of the Torah and Mitzvos, which are eternal. This is like a government, which goes out to be victorious over an enemy. Then the power of the government increases, and the territory of the government expands. Likewise, when a person is victorious over their desires, the person expands, and lets the territory of Holiness rule over them, and thereby they reveal the Kingdom of Hakadosh Baruch Hu, who is the King of the Kings of Kings, who lives and exists and is eternal forever.
Hod of Malchus
Hod comes from the term to thank (and acknowledge). This is a very important attribute. It is well known that Adam blamed his wife for the sin, when he said to Hashem, "The woman which you have given me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate." On this, Chazal teach that Adam was ungrateful (he did not admit the good Hashem had done for him.)
Yesod of Malchus
The role of Yesod in the Sefiros is to pass on the emanation to the Sefirah of Malchus, which is the vessel that receives the emanation. Yesod is called the pipeline. It is written in the books of the Kabbalists that Tzinor (pipeline) is the transposed letters of the word Ratzon, which means will (and desire). This means that the person conquers their selfish will. All that they receive is only because of the desire to emanate to others. This is truly the attribute of a ruler and a true King. All of the King's will is just for the welfare of the people of his country. He does not wish, G-d forbid, to exploit them or to subjugate them to his personal needs. Therefore, this is the attribute of Yesod of Malchus, which receives, but only on the condition to have it to give to others.
Malchus of Malchus
Malchus is the vessel, which receives the light of all of the Sefiros, and it is also called Knesses Yisroel (the ingathering of Israel), since it gathers within it the emanation to give to Israel. This is as we find in the Seder of the night of Pesach, when the three Matzos, correspond to Chabad (Chochmah, Binah, Daas), the Shank Bone, Egg, and Horseradish, correspond to Chagat, and the Charoses, Carpas, and Romaine, correspond to Nehi, and the Seder plate itself is Malchus.
Malchus of Malchus - Tzedaka (Charity) of Malchus
Another explanation of Malchus of Malchus is that the Sefirah of Malchus is the attribute of the desire to receive. Upon this desire was the Tzimtzum (limitation), to not receive for the sake of receiving, but rather for the sake of emanating. This means (to receive) according to the nature of the first nine Sefiros. Therefore, what Malchus receives is like charity, and because of this, Malchus is compared to the moon, which is called the lens which does not shine (like a mirror which only reflects), and which has nothing of its own. This means that all of the moon's light is received from the sun. This is the form of reception of Malchus. Therefore, giving of charity is like Malchus of Malchus.