Yeshiva.org.il - The Torah World Gateway
Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Meaning Sefirat Ha'omer

R-e-s-p-e-c-t, Find Out What It Means to You

Two ideas permeate our nightly enumeration: 1) The linking up of Pesach & Shavuot & 2) The semi-mourning practices associated with this time of the year, due to the deaths of the students of Rabbi Akiva. Is there a connection?
Rabbi Stewart WeissNissan 25 5781
2
Click to dedicate this lesson
So the countdown – or should we say "count-up?" - has begun: We are now well into the Sefira period. Two ideas permeate our nightly enumeration: 1) The linking up of Pesach & Shavuot & 2) The semi-mourning practices associated with this time of the year, due to the deaths of the students of Rabbi Akiva. Is there a connection?

The Rabbis’ explain why these Talmidei Chachamim perished: "They did not afford sufficient respect to one another." But this is very hard to fathom, considering that Rabbi Akiva’s prime forte was promoting the love of each Jew for another. As we sang as kids in Bnei Akiva: "Amar Rabi Akiva: V’Ahavta L’Ray’acha Kamocha – Zeh Klal Gadol Ba’Torah. - Love your fellow Jew as you love yourself; this is a basic principle of the Torah." So what happened?

Rabbi Akiva was arguably the greatest Jewish leader since Moshe. Baal Teshuva, patriot, scholar par excellence – the Gemara relates that Moshe himself was transported to Akiba’s Bet Midrash to learn from him! – Akiba was a role model for the ages. He was the leader of his generation; the acknowledged master of Torah as well as the guiding force behind the military effort to overcome Roman domination of Israel. But his life, so noble & holy, would have the most tragic consequences. His students would die; he himself would be tortured by the Romans & executed at age 120.

I think Rabbi Akiva was bemoaning the fact that the various elements in the Jewish society of his generation did not respect each other enough, & that is what caused the calamity. And I fear his words ring truer now more than ever – we all suffer from a similar lack of Kavod.

One camp in Israel does not respect the very religious, who spend their days learning & are immersed in Mitzva-observance. But where would we all be if there hadn’t been those devoted Jews who kept alive the spirit of Judaism through the millennia, who held our faith together in the most difficult of circumstances through their unswerving devotion to G-d, who prayed fervently to return to Zion, even when that was a far-off dream?

At the same time, another camp disrespects those who identify with Israel, who helped build it & bravely defend it, even at the cost of their lives. They will not even stand in honor of the fallen, or say a prayer for our soldiers’ safety! But where would we be – all of us – if not for the pioneers who braved every hardship to found the State, if not for the young men and women who form a holy barrier between us & our cruel enemies?

You want to climb the mountain to G-d, to stand as we once did, at Har Sinai, "As one person, with one heart?" Then remember: Sefira – every one counts, everyone deserves Respect.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
More on the topic of The Meaning Sefirat Ha'omer

It is not possible to send messages to the Rabbis through replies system.Click here to send your question to rabbi.

את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר yeshiva.org.il