By the Grace of G-d
Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5731
To All Participants in the "Evening with Lubavitch" in Philadelphia, Pa.
G-d bless you -
Greeting and Blessing:
I am please to extend greetings and prayerful wishes to all participants in the Evening with Lubavitch, and particularly to the honored guests.
Inasmuch as the event is taking place in the days of Sefira ("Counting of the Omer"), it is well to reflect on the significance of this Mitzvo.
At first glance, the counting of days seems to be of no consequence, since the flow of time is beyond man's control. Yet, it is obviously very significant in that it lends emphasis to the period connecting the two most important events in Jewish history:
Pesach - the liberation from Egyptian bondage, marking the birth of the Jewish people; and Shevuos - the Receiving of the Torah at Sinai, where the Jewish people became a truly free and mature nation.
Like all things with Torah, the Counting of the Omer has many aspects.
To one them I will address myself here.
Generally, the counting of things by the unit, rather than by approximation of the total, indicates the importance of the thing. The fact that each day, day after day for forty-nine days, a Brocho is said before the counting, further emphasizes the importance of this thing - in this case the value of time. The Brocho we make expresses not only our gratitude to G-d forgiving us the Mitzvo of Sefira, but also our gratitude for each day which He gives us. We must learn to appreciate the precious gift of each day by making the proper use of it. The tasks we have to accomplish today cannot be postponed for tomorrow, since a day gone by is irretrievable.
Secondly, while it is true that the flow of time is beyond our control, since we can neither slow it or quicken it, expand it nor shrink it; yet, in a way we can directly affect time by the content with which we fill each day of our life. When a person makes a far- reaching discovery, or reaches an important resolution, he can in effect put "ages" into minutes. On the other hand, time allowed to go by without proper content, has no reality at all, however long it may last.
Correspondingly, the Torah tells us that man has been given unlimited powers not only in regard to shaping his own destiny, but also the destiny of the world in which he lives. Just as in the case of time, the real length of it is not measured in terms of quantity but in terms of quality, so also in regard to a man's efforts. Every good effort can further be expanded by the vitality and enthusiasm which he puts into it.
Indeed, the period of seven weeks connecting the above mentioned two greatest historic events in Jewish life, illustrates the Torah concept of time and effort as indicated above. In the course of only seven weeks, a people which has been enslaved for 210 years to most depraved taskmasters, were transformed into a "Kingdom of Priests and Holy Nation," who witnessed the Divine Revelation at Sinai and received the Torah and Mitzvoth from G-d Himself.
"Lubavitch" teaches and exemplifies the principle of the predominance of form over matter, of the soul over the body. It is not the quantity - in terms of physical capacity and length of time - that is the essential factor, but it is the quality of the effort and the infinite capacity of the soul that determine the results.
I trust that the spirit of Lubavitch will stimulate each and all of the participants to ever greater accomplishments in all areas of Jewish life, both personal and communal.
With blessing for Hatzlocho,