Parashat Emor: The Mitzva of the Omer

  • Dr. Tziporah Lifshitz
 
The Mitzva of Bringing the Omer to the Temple
 
 
In our experience of Pesach today, the mitzva of bringing the omer to the Temple is but a distant idea or memory. This was true also for the synagogue-goers and yeshiva students in the period of the Amoraim of Eretz Israel in the third to fifth centuries. These two mitzvot — the mitzva of bringing the omer to the Temple on the sixteenth of Nisan and the mitzva of counting the omer from that day for seven subsequent weeks until Shavuot — are intricately bound together, as we read in Parashat Emor:
 
The Lord said to Moses: Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest an omer of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the omer before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the sabbath…
 
From the day after the sabbath, the day you brought the omer of the wave-offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh week, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. (Vayikra 23:9-16)
 
Literally, an omer can be a sheaf of grain (Devarim 24:19) or a specific measure of grain, one tenth of an eifa (Shemot 16:36). However, due to its connection to these two special mitzvot, the term has become synonymous with the special flour-offering of the sixteenth of Nissan and the count which begins on that date.
 
However, while the mitzva of bringing the omer is expounded in the aggadic literature of Eretz Israel in many different ways, the mitzva of counting the omer is not expounded at all.[1] It would appear that the considerable occupation with the mitzva of bringing the omer to the Temple is aimed at reifying the absent dimension of the Temple service for those going to the synagogue and study hall during the period of the Amoraim of Eretz Israel.
 
Vayikra Rabba devotes an entire parasha to the mitzva of bringing the omer to the Temple.[2] Let us examine the last derasha appearing in it:
 
I.
Rabbi Yochanan said: Let not the mitzva of the omer be light in your eyes; for by virtue of the mitzva of the omer, Avraham inherited the land.
This is what is stated: "And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land of your sojournings (Bereishit 17:8).
Because: "And God said to Avraham: And as for you, you shall keep My covenant" (Bereishit 17:9).
 
II.
Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: Let not the mitzva of the omer be light in your eyes; for by virtue of the mitzva of the omer, peace is made between husband and wife.
This is what is stated: "Then shall the man bring his wife to the priest, and shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an eifa of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon" (Bamidbar 5:15).
And which is that? The mitzva of the omer which requires waving. By virtue of barley flour, peace is made between husband and wife.
 
III.
Rabbi Abbahu said: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi and Rabbi Shemuel bar Nachman and the Rabbis [each offered an explanation].
 
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: It stood for them in the days of Gidon. As it is written: "And when Gidon came, behold, there was a man telling a dream to his fellow, and saying: Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake (tzelil) of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midyan" (Shoftim 7:13).
 
What is a tzelil? Rabbi Levi said: It is written tzalul, because that generation was clear (tzalul) of righteous men. By virtue of what then were they redeemed? By virtue of the cake of barley bread. And which is that? The mitzva of the omer.
 
IV.
Rabbi Shemuel bar Nachman said: It stood for them in the days of Chizkiyahu. As it is written: "And in every place where the appointed staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tambourines and harps; and in battles of waving (tenufa) will He fight with them" (Yeshayahu 30:32).
Were there “battles of waving” in that generation? And which is that? The mitzva of the omer, which requires waving (tenufa).
 
V.
The Rabbis said: It stood for them in the days of Yechezkel. As it is stated: "Take you also to you wheat, and barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and spelt, and put them in one vessel, and make you bread thereof" (Yechezkel 4:9).
 
Shemuel said: He gave him much barley.
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Things which make the bowels run.
Rabbi Chiya bar Abba said: There [they said]: They made out of it a cake, but not even a dog would taste it.
 
A matron asked Rabbi Yosei ben Chalafta: That righteous man suffered all that pain. He had so many manservants and maidservants, but they were disqualified from preparing food and drink.
He said to her: To teach you that as long as Israel is in pain, the righteous suffer with them.
 
VI.
Rabbi Levi said: It stood for them in the days of Haman.
When Mordekhai saw that Haman was coming towards him, he became afraid.
He was sitting and his disciples were before him.
He said to them: Stand away from me, that you not be burnt by my coal, for this wicked man comes to kill me.
They said to him: In death and in life we are with you.
He said to them: If so, let us stand in prayer and part out of prayer.
They finished their prayer, sat, and occupied themselves with [studying] the mitzva of the omer.
Haman approached them and said: With what do you occupy yourselves?
They said to him: With the mitzva of the omer which they would offer in the Temple.
He said to them: That omer, was it of gold or of silver?
They said to him: Not gold, not silver, and not wheat, but rather barley.
He said to them: What is its value, ten weighty coins?
They said to him: Enough, enough, [only] ten maneh.
When Mordekhai finished praying, Haman approached him and said: Come, put on a royal robe, because your omer of ten maneh defeated my ten thousand weighty coins of silver.
(Vayikra Rabba 28, 6)
 
 

FIrst set: Derashot 1-11

 
The derasha is comprised of six derashot, five short ones and a long one, which are divided into three groups: I-II, III-V, and VI. Five of them are reported in the name of Amoraim of Eretz Israel of the first three generations: Rabbi Yochanan, Reish Lakish, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, Rabbi Shemuel bar Nachman and Rabbi Levi, and one in the name of the Rabbis.[3] The first two derashot, which are related in the name of the Amora Rabbi Yochanan or his disciple-colleague Reish Lakish, open with the statement: "Let not the mitzva of the omer be light in your eyes," and each of them offers a different explanation of the importance of this mitzva. Rabbi Yochanan relates in his derasha to the national plane, whereas Reish Lakish relates to the marital plane.
 
Omer and Circumcision
 
The commentators on the Midrash have difficultly explaining how the verses cited by Rabbi Yochanan relating to the command given to Avraham regarding circumcision ("And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land of your sojournings… And God said to Avraham: And as for you, you shall keep My covenant," Bereishit 17:8-9) prove his assertion that "by virtue of the mitzva of the omer Avraham inherited the land." Rabbi Yochanan makes the first verse dependent on the second one: "And I will give to you, and to your seed after you, the land of your sojournings," because: "And God said to Avraham: And as for you, you shall keep My covenant," creating a conditional relationship between inheriting the land and keeping the covenant. However, according to the plain sense of the text, the covenant under discussion is the covenant of circumcision and not the mitzva of bringing the omer.
 
The Rashash and Radal (ad loc.) connect this derasha to the verse (Yirmeyahu 5:24): "Neither say they in their heart: Let us now fear the Lord our God, that gives the former rain, and the latter in due season; that keeps for us the weeks of the rules of harvest." This is cited in an earlier derasha concerning the omer in this parasha:
 
Rabbi Elazar said:
It is written: "Neither say they in their heart: Let us now fear the Lord our God, that gives the former rain, and the latter in due season" (Yirmeyahu 5:24).
[Do not think that] now that God has given you everything [former rain and latter rain], you no longer need Him.[4]
This is what is stated: "that keeps for us the weeks of the rules of harvest" (ibid.).
May He protect us from the heat, may He protect us from injurious dews.
These are the seven weeks between Pesach and Shavuot.
(Vayikra Rabba 28, 2)
 
In this derasha, Rabbi Elazar points to the protection that God extends to Israel's crops during the period between the barley harvest and the wheat harvest, so that the wheat crop not become ruined.
 
The Rashash notes the root shin-mem-reish appearing in the two verses: "Perhaps he derives the meaning of shemira [regarding Avraham in Bereishit] from the word shemira in [Yirmeyahu], ‘That keeps (yishmor) for us the weeks of the rules of harvest.’" However, the Divine protection of the wheat in Rabbi Elazar's derasha is not at all like the "keeping" mentioned in the verse in Bereishit, namely, keeping the covenant on the part of man.
 
The Radal notes the connection between the “covenant” in Bereishit and the “rules” in the verse in Yirmeyahu:
 
"You shall keep My covenant.” Which is that? The mitzva of omer," as was expounded above: "That keeps for us the weeks of the rules of harvest," regarding a rule which is an eternal covenant, the mitzva of the omer and counting seven weeks of rules of harvest.
 
This interpretation ignores Rabbi Elazar's derasha on the verse, which emphasizes the Divine protection that is needed from the precipitation ("injurious dews") liable to fall, and explains "the weeks of the rules of harvest" in a different manner, as relating to the mitzvot of bringing the omer and counting the omer.
 
Both commentators relate directly to the verse and not to the derasha relating it to the mitzva of the omer, and therefore it is difficult to accept their interpretations as Rabbi Yochanan's intention in his derasha.[5]
 
Rabbi Ya’akov Moshe Ashkenazi (Yad Moshe ad loc.), identifies the covenant with the omer: "The omer is called a covenant because the omer comes to eliminate the injurious dews, and a covenant was made with the dew that it would never be eliminated." His interpretation, as well, seems far from the wording of the derasha.
 
The Maharazav (ad loc.) is the only commentator who does not try to establish a linguistic connection between the mitzva of the omer and the word “covenant,” and his interpretation relates exclusively to the conceptual realm. He interprets "My covenant" as referring to the commandment of the omer, which is unique in that it is the first commandment dependent on the land of Israel that the people of Israel fulfill after entering the country.[6]
 
I am inclined to accept the Maharazav’s understanding of the nature of the relationship between the mitzva of the omer and the covenant in Rabbi Yochanan's derasha, but I do not see anything in the wording of the derasha that relates it to the historical event of entering the land of Israel. I wish to present a different conceptual interpretation.
 
The omer offering is an offering of the beginning of the barley harvest, by way of which the people of Israel declare their recognition of God as the source of the good that they are privileged to receive, before they begin to use it. As stated by the Sefer Ha-chinnukh (#302), the mitzva of offering an omer of barley on the sixteenth of Nissan is given
 
So that we may contemplate through that action the great act of lovingkindness that the Holy One, blessed be He, performs for His creatures, renewing for them each year grain for their sustenance. Therefore it is fitting that we offer of it to Him, so that we may remember His great lovingkindness and good before we derive pleasure from it.
 
This mitzva expresses the ability of the people of Israel to establish a connection to God even within the natural annual life cycle of producing bread (and barley) from the land. As such, it parallels what is symbolized by the covenant of circumcision, which marks the Jewish people as a nation which breaks through the deterministic cycle of nature to develop an unmediated relationship with God.[7]
 
This connection is supported by a derasha reported in the name of Bar Kappara, a disciple of Rabbi Yehuda Ha-nasi, who learns from the mitzva of orla in the plant world (treating the first three years of a tree’s produce as forbidden) about removing the foreskin (orla) of man:
 
"And My covenant shall be" (Bereishit 17:13).
Rav Huna said in the name of Bar Kappara:
Avraham sat and reasoned by way of a verbal analogy:
It is stated here “orla,” and it is stated with regard to a tree “orla.”
Just as the orla that is stated with regard to a tree is the place that produces fruit, so too the orla that is stated with regard to man is the place that produces fruit.
(Bereishit Rabba 46, 2)
 
Therefore, the essence of the mitzva of omer is characterized by Rabbi Yochanan as a covenant.
 
Omer and Sota
 
The text of the second derasha, related by Rabbi Shimon ben (Reish) Lakish, as it appears above, is difficult. The verse that is cited regarding the offering brought by a sota, a woman suspected of adultery ("Then shall the man bring his wife to the priest, and shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an eifa of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon," Bamidbar 5:15), does not relate explicitly to the bringing of the omer, and the mention of the waving of the omer offering in the next sentence: "And which is that? The mitzva of the omer which requires waving," is not understandable in its context.[8] It may be suggested that the sota's barley offering is what connects a sota to the mitzva of omer, which also comes from barley.[9] As for the act of waving, the sota's offering is also waved by the priest: "And the priest shall take the meal-offering of jealousy out of the woman's hand, and shall wave the meal-offering before the Lord, and bring it to the altar" (Bamidbar 5:26). A tenth of an eifa of barley and the act of waving are the common elements that connect the two mitzvot to each other.
 
Reish Lakish's derasha relates, as mentioned earlier, to the marital realm:
 
Let not the mitzva of the omer be light in your eyes. For by virtue of the mitzva of the omer, peace is made between husband and wife… By virtue of barley flour, peace is made between husband and wife.
 
Rabbi Mordekhai Yafeh, author of the Yefei To'ar commentary (ad loc.), explains that the "husband and wife" who are mentioned in the derasha are a metaphor for the people of Israel and God, who restore the relationship between them through the act of the bringing the omer offering.[10]
 
And Reish Lakish said that the omer offering comes to connect Israel to their father in heaven, like we find that that the meal-offering of jealousy is brought from barley and its purpose is to draw a fit woman closer to her husband, and to distance from him a woman who was defiled.
 
According to him, Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish's derasha, like the derasha of Rabbi Yochanan, revolves around the issue of the people of Israel's closeness to their father in heaven. Rabbi Yochanan relates to the struggle with the forgetting of the covenant and Israel's Divine mission because of the erosion caused by routine and nature, while Reish Lakish relates to the need to restore the dimension of trust in the relationship after a crisis.[11]
 
The question may be raised whether it is right to interpret Reish Lakish's derasha not in its plain sense but as a metaphor, when it is possible to explain it in its plain sense and not as a metaphor, as we will see below. The ability given to the nation of Israel to express the very connection that it has to God through the act of bringing the omer paves the way for restoring the injured family unit, by way of returning to its starting point.[12] This is the meaning that lies in the barley offering appearing in both places. The nuclear unit of the nation — man and wife — which is its strength and foundation, merits direct Divine intervention, so that it will be able to grow anew.
 
According to this approach, the derashot of Rabbi Yochanan and Reish Lakish relate to two different planes — the national plane of taking possession of the land and the personal plane of marriage — as both planes are illuminated by the relationship between God and His people.
 
Second Set: Derashot II-V
 
The third derasha, that of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, hangs the miraculous deliverance from Midyan in the days of the Judge Gidon on the mitzva of bringing the omer. Here too, as in the derasha of Reish Lakish, the connection to the omer is by way of the motif of barley, which symbolizes, on the one hand, the basic relationship that still exists between Israel and God, and, on other hand, Israel's treachery and being drawn to idol worship.[13] In this sense, the situation of Gidon's generation parallels that of a woman suspected of adultery who brings a barley offering.
 
In the fourth derasha, the third-generation Amora, Rabbi Shemuel bar Nachman, finds in the word "tenufa" which appears in the prophet Yeshayahu's description of the miraculous rescue of Jerusalem and Judea from the hands of Sancheiriv, king of Ashur, on the first night of Pesach, an allusion to the mitzva of the omer which serves as a merit for them in that generation:[14]
 
Behold, the name of the Lord comes from far, with His anger burning, and in thick uplifting of smoke; His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue is as a devouring fire; and His breath is as an overflowing stream, that divides even to the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of destruction; and a bridle that causes to err shall be in the jaws of the peoples.
 
You shall have a song as in the night when a feast is hallowed; and gladness of heart, as when one goes with the pipe to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. And the Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard, and will show the lighting down of His arm, with furious anger, and the flame of a devouring fire, with a bursting of clouds, and a storm of rain, and hailstones. 
 
For through the voice of the Lord shall Ashur be dismayed, the rod with which He smote. And in every place where the appointed staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tambourines and harps; and in battles of waving (tenufa) will He fight with them. For a hearth is ordered of old; yea, for the king it is prepared, deep and large; the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, does kindle it. (Yeshayahu 30:27-33)
 
The word tenufa should be understood in this context in the sense of a storm — that is to say, God will wage war against His enemies in a tempest.[15] According to the plain sense of the verse, the darshan's question: "Were there battles of waving in that generation? And which is that?" is difficult, for the miraculous deliverance from the hands of Ashur is precisely that. If so, it seems that like in the case of the derasha of Rabbi Yochanan, Rabbi Shemuel bar Nachman, who was his disciple, does not come to expound the verse, but to deliver a message.
 
Still, what is that message? Does even the generation of Chizkiyahu fall short? After all, Chazal characterize it as a generation in which "they checked from Dan to Be'er-Sheva and did not find an ignoramus from Gabbat to Antipatris and did not find a boy or a girl, a man or a woman, who was not fluent in the laws of impurity and purity!"[16] Does it see itself as God's nation, but fail to detach itself from the idolatrous culture that surrounds it?
 
Indeed, these are the words of the prophet in the prophecy that precedes the tidings of the miraculous deliverance from the hands of Ashur:
 
For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children that refuse to hear the teaching of the Lord; that say to the seers: See not, and to the prophets: Prophesy not to us right things, speak to us smooth things, prophesy delusions; get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. (Yeshayahu 30:9-11)
 
In the continuation, the prophet describes the people's response to the miraculous deliverance from Sancheiriv: "And you shall defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images covered with gold; you shall put them far away as one impure; you shall say to it: Get you hence" (Yeshayahu 30:22). The people will then regain their bearings and distance themselves from the worship of idols.
 
 
The fifth derasha focuses on one of the symbolic acts that the prophet Yechezkel is commanded to perform during the course of his prophetic work. The discussion that develops among the Amoraim points to the barley cake as animal food (Shemuel) or even worse (Rabbi Chiya bar Abba), which injures the body (Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi) and leads to the prophet's humiliation,[17] but the main message arising from it is what is stated at the beginning in the shared formula: "It [the mitzva of the omer] stood for them in the days of Yechezkel." The act of eating is an act of survival, of continued life; Israel in the Babylonian exile after the Destruction of the Temple continues to live, although at a much lower level. Therefore, the prophet is commanded to mix barley into his food.[18]
 
Third Set: Derasha VI
 
As stated earlier, the sixth derasha constitutes the third part of the Midrashic unit under discussion.[19] The uniformity of style that appears in it as well — "It stood for them in the days of Haman" — should be seen as the fingerprints of the redactor of Vayikra Rabba sometime in the 5th to 6th century.
 
Mordekhai's struggle with Haman reflects Jewish survival in the Diaspora, which is subject to the machinations of the enemies of Israel who rise up against it in every generation. The sudden upheaval that Mordekhai experiences — that Haman must lead him through the city streets and show him the honor that is reserved for royalty — does not remove the general danger that hovers over the heads of the Jews; but Haman already understands what it means. Jewish survival, which draws from the springs of eternity through the study of Torah, allows Israel to overcome all who rise up against it. The subject of study is the omer offering, that very offering which expresses the people of Israel's connection to God, over and above nature and the schemes of man. In this way, "Your omer of ten maneh defeated my ten thousand weighty coins of silver."
 
The Midrashic Unit: An Overview
 
The Yefei To'ar (ad loc.) sees this midrashic unit as a collection of explanations of the importance of the mitzva of omer, without a connecting thread:
 
That one should not say: Why did the Holy One, blessed be He, bother the people of Israel to bring the omer offering, when, as it would seem, this mitzva has no lofty reason? Therefore, they said that if one carefully considers the mitzva, one will find various reasons.
 
In light of our study, it would appear that a comprehensive review of the six derashot that comprise the parasha indicates that five of them relate to the possibility of continuing the existing situation, in the face of a threat that endangers its existence. Reish Lakish relates to the continuation of an individual's home, whereas the other Amoraim in the later derashot relate to the continued existence of the people of Israel in their land and in exile. By contrast, in the first derasha, Rabbi Yochanan relates to the inauguration of a new era that is the fulfillment of an earlier promise made by God to the fathers of the nation.
 
The merit for bringing the omer offering stands for Israel across time. With the survival of the people of Israel by virtue of its covenant with God, through the deepening of its self-identity, may we merit to elevate ourselves to the ability to inherit and hold on to our land, while realizing our destiny in it.[20]
 
 
(Translated by David Strauss)
 
 
[1] Most of the conceptual expansion surrounding the counting of the omer appears for the first time in Kabbalistic literature and in the words of the Rishonim. See Zohar, Raya Mehemna, Emor 97a; Guide for the Perplexed III, 43; Derashot Ri Ibn Shuib, First Day of Pesach.
[2] Parasha 28. See the parallel passage in Pesikta de-Rav Kahana 8.
[3] Section III opens with a sentence that serves as a preamble to sections III-V: "Rabbi Abbahu said: Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi and Rabbi Shemuel bar Nachman and the Rabbis [each offered an explanation]." In the continuation, however, there is no mention of Rabbi Abbahu, and we find the names of Rabbi Yochanan, Resh Lakish and Rabbi Levi.
[4] See Vayikra Rabba, ed. Margoliot, p. 652, note 5.
[5] Rabbi Elazar is probably Rabbi Elazar ben Pedat, a disciple of Rabbi Yochanan. Based on the chronological proximity, it can be argued that Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish are familiar with Rabbi Elazar's derasha, but according to what we have seen above, it seems more reasonable to interpret Rabbi Yochanan's derasha in a different manner. Another point that must be considered is the significance of the redaction of this parasha in Vayikra Rabba as it is found before us, but this is not the forum to expand on the matter.
[6] See there and Yehoshua 5:3-12:
And Yehoshua made himself knives of flint, and circumcised the Israelites at the Hill of Foreskins… And the Israelites encamped in Gilgal; and they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening in the plains of Jericho. And they did eat of the produce of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes and parched corn in the selfsame day.
 
He notes that the mitzvot of circumcision and the paschal offering are observed already in Egypt. In Bereishit Rabba 46, 8, we find a derasha that parallels the derasha of Rabbi Yochanan, but in relation to circumcision, rather than the omer offering.
"And I will give to you, and to your seed after you” (Bereishit 17:8). Rabbi Yudan said… If your sons accept circumcision they will enter the land, but if not, they will not enter the land.
Rabbi Berakhya and Rabbi Chelbo said in the name of Rabbi Avin bar Rabbi Yosei: It is written: “And this is the cause why Yehoshua did circumcise” (Yehoshua 5:4). Yehoshua told them the reason and circumcised them. He said to them: What do you think, that you will enter the land uncircumcised? For the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Avraham: “And I will give to you, and to your seed after you,” on condition that: “And as for you, you shall keep My covenant."
[7] See Ramban, Bereishit 17:1, and Malbim ad loc.:
"This is My covenant, which you shall keep… every male among you shall be circumcised.” That is to say, the mitzva of circumcision involves not only excising the foreskin, but rather together with the excising of the foreskin, you must remove also the orla of the ear, and the orla of the lips, and the orla of the heart. For as long as there is orla in the flesh, it spreads throughout the body, whether to the faculty of the heart and thought, or to the faculty of speech, or to the faculty of listening to the word of God and His commandments. By removing the foreskin in accordance with the mitzva legislated by God, you will remove all of the orla and you will circumcise yourselves… for you will remove the husk and darkness of matter… and the material orla will not separate between you and your God.
The wording of the beginning of Chapter 17 in Bereishit, where the word "covenant" appears many times, indicates that it refers to the relationship itself, and only afterwards to the commandment regarding the act of circumcision; see there.
[8] This is the text in the Margoliot edition of Midrash Vayikra Rabba, which is based on MS London, British Museum, no. 340. In four other manuscripts (MS Oxford, Neubauer catalog 147 and 2335, MS Paris 149 and MS Jerusalem 245), the last sentence of the derasha is missing: "By virtue of barley flour, peace is made between husband and wife," and in the first editions and in MS Paris, also the previous sentence is missing: "And which is that? The mitzva of the omer which requires waving." The phenomenon of omitting sentences that appear to be superfluous, clumsy or difficult to understand is common in manuscripts, and the difficult text is usually assumed to be the original one.
[9] The biblical command regarding the omer offering does not clearly indicate that it must be brought from barley; see Vayikra 23:9-15 and 2:14-16. Bringing the omer offering from barley is a halakha given to Moshe at Sinai. See Rambam, Hilkhot Temidin U-musafin 7:11, and Mahari Kurkus, ad loc.
[10] It seems that this is also the way the matter is understood by the Yedei Moshe, ad loc.
[11] The metaphor of a sota that is used to describe the people of Israel straying after idol worship at the time of the Sin of the Golden Calf is found in Bamidbar Rabba 9, 44-48. In Section 49, the darshan expands this principle to include also the idol worship practiced by Israel in later generations.
[12] In this process, the woman's drinking of the bitter waters restores the couple's basic trust in each other.
[13] The people of Israel in Gidon's generation define themselves as the people of God, but they are also attracted to idol worship. See Shoftim 6:8-10; 13; 25-32.
[14] The root nun-vav-pei appears also in verse 28: "And His breath is as an overflowing stream, that divides even to the neck, to sift (la-hanafa) the nations with the sieve of destruction."
[15] See Da'at Mikra: Yeshayahu, Vol. 1, pp. 326-327.
[16] BT Sanhedrin 94b.
[17] See commentators to the Midrash, ad loc.
[18] In light of this derasha, one may ask whether there are any other stories or events in Tanakh where mention is made of barley, and whether they share the same meaning suggested here.
[19] See the beginning of this shiur.
[20] This shiur was written during the time of massive rocket fire from Gaza.