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Friday, May 13

The Weekly Shtikle - Behar

I heard the following from the Rosh HaYeshiva, HaRav Kulefsky, zt"l, a number of years ago: The beginning of this week's parsha (25:8) speaks of the obligation (for Beis Din) to count the 49 years leading up to the Yovel year. Chizkuni writes that since the counting obligation for Yovel is mentioned only once and for Beis Din, it does not require a brachah. For Sefiras HaOmer, however, since the obligation is mentioned twice, once in Emor (23:15) and once in Re'eih (Devarim 17:9), once for Beis Din and once for every individual, it requires a brachah. The reasoning of Chizkuni is rather puzzling. Why would the obligation to count with a brachah depend on the number of times the mitzvah is mentioned?

Ramba"n writes (23:15) that the plural form of the commandment for Sefiras HaOmer, "usfartem lachem," indicates that there should be a counting for each individual. This is unlike the singular form of the commandment to count the years of Yovel, "vesafarta lecha," or the commandment for the zavah to count seven days of cleanliness (15:28), "vesafrah lah." He explains that the singular form implies that the counting is only a means to an end. A zavah need not count each day as the days go by but rather the counting is necessary for her to know when she may become tehorah. This would also seem to be the reasoning behind the Yovel count, that Beis Din need only keep count of the years in order to know which year to make a Shemitah or Yovel year but in both these cases the counts serve no purpose on their own.

Perhaps, suggests HaRav Kulefsky, this is what Chizkuni meant. Since for Yovel there is only one commandment and it is for Beis Din, the implication is that there is no purpose for the count other than to keep track of the years so that we may make Yovel in the proper year. But since for Sefiras HaOmer in addition to the commandment of "shiv'ah shavuos tispor lach" in Re'eih, we have the commandment of "usfartem lachem" in Emor teaching us that every individual must count for himself, it is clear that the counting itself is an end unto itself and therefore it requires a brachah.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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