SEVEN TIMES SEVEN
By Roy S. Neuberger
This week, we tremble at the Tochecha.
“For the sin of … cessation [of the observance of] shmittah and yovel, exile comes to the world,” (Shabbos 33a) “then the land will be appeased for its Sabbaticals during all the years of its desolation….” (Vayikra 26:34) In the fearsome words of our Parsha, “I shall punish you … seven ways for your sins.” (ibid 26:18)
Several weeks ago, Rabbi Yaakov Feitman wrote in the Yated about Sefiras Ha’omer. In essence, Sefira is a long chol ha moed between Pesach and Shavuos. (Ramban on Vayikra 23:36.) Shavuoscompletes the process which began on Pesach. Sefira is the forty-nine step ladder we climb to get there.
Why forty nine?
The teshuva must be seven times seven. This number comes up constantly: at negative forty-nine we were almost lost in Mitzraim. At positive forty-nine we arrive at Har Sinai!
Everything, my friends, starts with the Seventh Day, Shabbos. Hashem built the world upon Shabbos: “last in deed, first in thought.” (Lecha Dodi) Shabbos frees us. “Dror Yikra … [Hashem] proclaims freedom!” The same word is used regarding Yovel: “You shall proclaim ‘dror b’Aretz,’ freedom throughout the land.” (Vayikra 25:10)
When I was living without Torah, people called that “freedom.” We thought we were free because we did whatever we wanted. We lived on the carousel: round and round it goes. Then, one day, the music stops; the ride is over; you get off the horse, and – guess what! – you are exactly where you started! Your entire life was a race to get nowhere!
The Torah, lehavdil, is not a circle. We are going somewhere! We are coming constantly closer to theRibono shel Olam. Each week ends with the Day we spend with Hashem! There are six directions in this world – east, south, west, north, up and down, like waving the lulav – but on the Seventh Day we enter a new existence.
Suddenly, we are free: free of fear … free of troubles … free to connect with the Source of Life!
All success in life has to do with the number “seven,” which takes us beyond gashmius. And then there is an even higher madreiga: seven times seven!
Every Shabbos ends with havdalla, but imagine not having to make havdalla, living continuously on the level of Shabbos! Thus, at Har Sinai, on the fiftieth day, we entered a new level of existence. When you reach the fiftieth madreiga, you are a different person. Har Sinai is the antidote to the Tochecha;the Fiftieth Day heals us. “Shelo asani oved… Blessed are You, Hashem, that I am not a slave!”
Every moment we have a choice: do I go “acharei levavchem v’acharei ainaichem … after my heart and my eyes” (Bamidbar 15:39) or do I follow Moshe Rabbeinu? At Har Sinai we meet the Ribono shel Olam. “Dror yikra … proclaim freedom! … Let your soul know Torah and it will be a crown on your head!” May we all soon wear this crown!
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Roy Neuberger, author and public speaker, can be reached at email@example.com.
© Copyright 2019 by Roy S. Neuberger