Executive Director, Torah MiTzion
The Day After
For 49 days we repeat the verse “and you shall count from the day after Shabbat …” (Emor 23:15) emphasizing the difference which exists, since creation, between the highlight of the week, Shabbat, and that of a regular weekday.
In a modern day perspective, a few years back, an attempt was made to portray the damage and effect of an atomic bomb on a city. The name of the movie, “The Day After” was meant to shock the audience and emphasize our responsibility for our actions. What happens the day after …?
‘The day after‘ as a concept is used again in this week’s Parasha Emor relating to the Moadim: Pesach, Sfirat Haomer, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanna,Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
The pasuk right after the bringing of the Bikkurim (the name Shavuot is not used) and before Rosh Hashana seems to be out of place: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger. I the Lord am your G-d.” (23:22)
In fact, almost the same pasuk appears in the beginning of Parshat Kedoshim, which we read in Israel last week, referring to the same Mitzvah (19:9-10).
Rav Yakov Ariel asks: why is this pasuk mentioned again, and even more so – why in this context?
The importance of this repetition is crucial…
We left the slavery of Egypt and slowly climbed up the ladder of Kedusha, from all near extinction, until we reached the level that we were worthy of receiving the Torah, all of Israel united. From Pesach to Shavuot we slowly climb higher and higher until we reach the top of the ladder… And then, the most important day arrives – the day after. The day after we receive the Torah; the day after we experience a spiritual high. When we are out in the field once again, working on a regular, mundane day, we must not forget the poor or the strangers we must not forget the unique society we strive to create, based on tzeddaka and chessed.
On most years Parashat Emor is read in close proximity to Yom Haatzmaut – after 2,000 years of Galut we have our own Day of Independence, a special, unique day; a day of Thanksgiving, rejoicing and prayer…we are home and forever this time!
But it is not by chance that exactly now we have to stop and think, amidst all the celebrations, what this Independence is all about? What are we called on to do the day after Yom Ha’atzmaut?
Our anthem, ‘Hatikva’ expresses our yearning to be a ‘free nation’ an Am Chofshi. What is it that would make our freedom so unique and worthwhile, to justify the high price we needed to pay to obtain it?
It is the same answer as above: we must not forget the poor or the stranger, we must strive to build a just society based on Torah Va’Avodah.
Emor is ‘to say’, or alternatively, we definitely do have a say about what we want to happen the day after!