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L’chvod Rav Avi, Rabbi Lopatin, Rabbi Linzer, Rabbi Love, Rav Katz and the rest of the faculty and staff, Obviously, we are grateful that you have created a holy place of learning for both Chai and Tzachi. But do you realize the profound influence you have had and continue to have in our lives? Thank you for helping us to create an open orthodox home where Torah is observed consciously. Thank you for modeling for us how to live the Torah that we learn. Thank you for helping us to raise our children with the knowledge that they could question anything that did not make sense to them, and that that is a proper and healthy attitude to apply to all aspects of Torah living. It brings us tremendous comfort and gives us strength knowing that Yeshivat Chovevei Torah is here to inspire and guide all of us.

With heartfelt thanks,
Estelle and Harvey Posner
Parents of Chai Posner (YCT ’10) and Tzachi Posner (YCT ’17)

What Communities Are Saying About YCT Rabbis

Eytan Yammer has provided remarkable leadership in the synagogue and the community. Rabbi Yammer’s sensitivity and learning have been a great gift for the congregation, which is made up of members with extremely diverse backgrounds and practices. And Rabbi Yammer carries his deep knowledge with humility… He and Marisa are respected and loved in the community.

Daniel J. Siegel

Knesseth Israel Congregation

Birmingham, Alabama

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Parshat Emor PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rabbi Avi Weiss   
Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The Lessons of Sefirat Ha-Omer

April 30 - May 1, 2010/ 17 Iyar 5770

By Rabbi Avi Weiss

Our Torah portion talks of the fifty days between Passover and Shavuot commonly known as Sefirat Ha-omer.  From a biblical perspective, these days relate to the barley offering brought on the second day of Passover and the wheat brought on the festival of Shavuot.  These days are days of hope and prayer that the produce from the ground grow fruitfully and plentifully.

In addition, this period of time certainly has something to do with the counting of time from Passover, the holiday marking our physical exodus from Egypt, to Shavuot, the holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah.  So great is the anticipation of Shavuot that we count joyously one day after the other for seven full weeks hoping to reach higher and higher as we approach that moment in history when the Torah was given.  It is fitting that we count up to forty nine.  This is because the number seven in Judaism, symbolizes completion, wholeness and spirituality, for it is the number of Shabbat.  Forty nine is seven sets of seven, therefore the Omer period is the ultimate completion of the completion, the holiest of the holiest.

As time progressed in the history of our people, these joyous days turned into sad ones.  It was between Passover and Shavuot that the students of Rabbi Akiva died.  According to tradition, death came because these learned men were involved in endless dispute. The relationships between these individuals that carried the potential for such greatness broke down resulting in back- biting and a totally ruptured community.

My son, Rabbi Dov Weiss, pointed out that perhaps it is not a coincidence that Rabbi Akiva's students were killed during the very days when we count toward the giving of the Torah.  No doubt, the rabbis led the way in the count toward Shavuot as the rabbis are the teachers par excellence of Torah.  Yet, it is these same rabbis who became involved in deep conflict.  Rather than these days being joyous they became days of mourning.

Too often Torah scholars to become so engrossed in the understanding of Torah that they begin to believe that their approach is the only correct one.  They often cannot see the truth in any other view.  In our communities we, too, often see how rabbis and community leaders fail to see any truth in someone else's view even if it legitimate, creating havoc and endless strife.

It has been suggested that different views are recorded in the Talmud to remind us that while one should continue to focus and deepen his or her view of Torah, it should not lead to tunnel vision. Different outlooks should respect one another.   Sefirat Ha-omer reminds us that we should intensely journey toward Torah, but while we do so, we should not possess tunnel vision; we should open the windows and let the winds enter our minds, our bodies and our souls.



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