Why 33?

We know that thousands of students of the great Torah scholar Rabbi Akiva died during this period. During this time, we pay tribute to their memory and avoid happy occasions such as marriage. The plague that engulfed them ended on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, the 18th of the month of Iyar. Therefore, we pause the national mourning in honor of their memory.

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Lag Baomer-The Holiday of Resilience

We are currently in the time period of Sefiras Haomer, counting down (or rather counting up!) the days between Pesach and Shavous.  These should be exceedingly joyous days as we move from celebrating the Exodus from Egypt on Pesach to becoming the nation who accepted Hashem’s Torah on Shavuot.    However, these days have become days of mourning, due to the death of the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva who did not treat each other with the proper respect.  

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Timeless Torah

We are obliged to guard the Torah. Rashi understands this to mean that we must be informed and know the sources of the mitzvos. Malbim expounds upon Rashi  clarifying that genuine preserving is in the heart, the storage facility of our knowledge. Certainly, we must study and realize this but it would seem that guarding has a much more profound intent.

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A Name Dropper

One of the many topics discussed in this week’s parsha is when a judge acts inappropriately and therefore one who should be exonerated is actually convicted or obligated to compensate for damages or otherwise. The terminology employed in defining this wrong act is that it is a disgrace. Of course, that in it of itself should alarm the judge and motivate him to pursue his office with diligence and integrity.

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When Are We Leaving?

This is of course the quintessential uncertainty that shrouds our minds until this very moment. The severity of pogroms, holocausts, bestial treatment and abusive environments that our nation has endured for thousands of years seems to never end. And that was exactly what our forefathers in Egypt felt as well. They were worked to the bone and underwent tremendous cruelty at the hands of the Egyptian taskmasters. What was the necessity to undergo such difficulties in order to merit the exodus? 

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First Place

This Shabbos we will read the parsha that discusses the upcoming month of Nissan. It is considered the first and foremost of the months of the year. What indeed is so significant about this month. Of course, we bring the special Passover sacrifice in this month, however why would that make the month itself so important?

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Seeing Red!

After an enjoyable and lively Purim, we begin our ascent to the Yom Tov of Pesach. Of course, there is a lot more work that Pesach entails such as clearing the house of any remaining chometz and kashering the kitchen and buying only specially made food products for Pesach. There is another facet to this wonderful Yom Tov that is not extant at this time.

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The Plateau

Purim is here with the masks and hamantashen. However, what is behind those masks. What is the essence of this incredibly exciting and joyous Yom Tov? R’ Yitzchok Luria better known as the AriZl suggests an amazing understanding of this special day. In Hebrew, the word Yom Kippur contains within its spelling the word Purim. Therefore, he states that even Yom Kippur, which we all view as the most auspicious and hallowed day of the year, is only like Purim.

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How Long Will It Last?

Chasam Sofer cites Rabbeinu Bachya that the length of duration of the first and second Beis Hamikdash is alluded to in the beginning of this parsha. The opening verse states that these are the accountings of ‘the Mishkan’ the ‘Mishkan of Testimony.’ The words ‘the Mishkan’ in Hebrew is one word ‘HaMishkan’ which using ‘Gematriya’ the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew letters equals 415 and since there are five letters in that word that total sum is 420, the span of time of the second Beis Hamikdash.

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