So, do you feel free? Although our stomachs may be feeling like a gigantic matzah ball right now, spiritually our minds have soared to great heights. On Seder night, not only were our ancestors released from captivity, but our own souls were also redeemed. But the freedom we received was of the miraculous sort, and as great as miracles are, they have limited results.
In Egypt we were on the lowest of spiritual levels – number 49 – and we needed something supernatural to wake us up. So God “dumped” an unearned keg of incredibly potent light on us. We then understood that we weren’t slaves; in fact, we’re capable of attaining awesome levels of closeness to God. But to truly foster this relationship with God, we must become like Him. This can be done only by utilizing our unique ability to choose to grow, thus building the vessels capable of holding on to this light for the long term.
We’re therefore given 49 days to ascend, level by level. On each day, as we count up to level 49, we also recite the prayer that recounts the attribute of God we should emulate. But most of us get lost in the Kabbalistic terms, and even if not, it seems awfully difficult to translate those attributes into the practical tools necessary to ascend. So where do we begin?
Just as we were given inordinate and supernatural spiritual bounty at the time of the Exodus, we receive the same bounty as we prepare to rise to the level of being worthy to receive the Torah. Although in Egypt we received this bounty in one fell swoop, we receive it slowly now and in a palpable way. The miracle of the Exodus is repeating itself on a micro level! Instead of our growth being in a logical and orderly manner, God guides us by manipulating exactly what each one of us needs to receive on each particular day. Our own experiences are the actualization of the Kabbalistic terms that we mention during the prayer. The “bumps in the road” are the miracle of the Exodus once again being performed – only this time, we’re taking initiative.
If we miss one day of counting the Omer, we don’t continue counting with a blessing. This is because the mitzvah of counting the Omer is to count every single day. The circumstances of each and every day are exactly what we need to grow. Just as each day begins with nighttime and darkness, so too, the unique spiritual potential of each day is preceded by challenge and difficulty. In order to build the vessels necessary to contain the light, we begin by believing in the potential and uniqueness of that day. Then, by holding strong and connecting to God via whichever mitzvot or acts of holiness we are able to do, we can overcome these barriers and reach the new level of Divine knowledge and closeness clothed in that day.
It’s not necessary to be a Kabbalist or a perfect saint to access the tremendous growth that these days offer. But we must know that God, out of His great love for us, manipulates each of our days in exactly the way necessary for us to truly get to know Him. Often this means that things will be difficult and not go “according to plan.” This could not be further from the truth. “God’s plan” was manufactured specifically in this manner to extract the qualities necessary to truly connect to Him. Perhaps we cannot yet live in the exalted manner that WE would like, but by doing what we can according to His schedule, we actually become a lot more like Him.
Based on Likutey Halakhot, Pikadon 4
A Gutn Shabbos! Shabbat Shalom!