“Shimon ben Azzai said: I have received a tradition from the seventy-two elders on the day when they appointed Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah head of the academy, that all sacrifices which are eaten, though slaughtered shelo lishma, without proper intent, are valid except that their owners have not fulfilled their obligation, except the Paschal lamb and the chatat, the sin offering” (Mishna Zevachim 1:3).
The period of sefirat haomer has undergone great transformation over the ages. In the Torah itself, it links the korban haomer brought on the second day of Pesach with the korban shtei halechem brought on Shavuot, thereby connecting the barley and wheat harvests. Each day of the grain harvest season was an opportunity to express gratitude to our Creator.
“And Yaakov worked for Rachel for seven years, and they appeared in his eyes like just a few because of his love for her” (Breisheet 29:20). Seven years is a long time to wait to marry the love of one’s life. Seven years is long to wait for almost anything.
But some things are worth waiting for, and while the wait was painful, Yaakov saw the seven years as a passing phase to be followed by a lifetime of happiness.
One of the Rambam's principles of faith is the eternity of the Torah. While historical circumstances may prevent the performance of certain mitzvoth, the mitzvah of Talmud Torah encompasses these "theoretical" mitzvoth as we hope that these mitzvoth will soon move from the theoretical realm to the practical.
After close to 2,000 years in exile, mitzvoth that were once dormant have come back to life. The Torah is no longer just a guide for individual living--it is the template for a nation back in its homeland.
This d'var Torah is dedicated in honour of the participants in Chidon HaTanach, the 50th International Bible Contest taking place on Yom Ha'atzmaut in Jerusalem. Hatzlacha Rabba to all!
"Two verses that contradict each other, until the third verse comes and reconciles them". So reads the 13th and final principle of Rabbi Yishmael's methodology of elucidating the biblical text; ideas so important that they have been included in our daily prayers.
Rav Soloveitchik was asked why our generation was the one to merit witnessing the creation of the State of Israel. After all, there were so many generations much more pious than ours, so much more worthy than us. The Rav answered, simply, that our generation needed it. Previous generations were able to flourish in their Judaism even without the benefit of a state. But after the horrors of the Holocaust, Jewish life simply could not continue, physically or spiritually, without a homeland.