Day 25 of the Omer

נַהֲגִינָן לְהַטְבִּיל פְּרוּסַת הַמּוֹצִיא שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בְּמֶלַח וְלֹא לִזְרוֹק הַמֶּלַח עַל הַפְּרוּסָה.

According to our custom, the piece of bread over which the blessing HaMotzi is recited is dipped into salt three times;1 one does not shake the salt over the bread.

יוֹם בּ' דְּחַג הַשָּׁבוּעוֹת תּרכ"א בִּסְעוּדָּה סִפֵּר הַצֶּמַח צֶדֶק: יוֹם בּ' דְּחַג הַשָּׁבוּעוֹת תּקנ"ה בִּסְעוּדָּה אָמַר אַאַזְמוּ"ר (רַבֵּנוּ הַזָּקֵן): בְּיוֹם בּ' דְּחַג הַשָּׁבוּעוֹת תּקכ"ח בִּסְעוּדָּה אָמַר כְּבוֹד קְדוּשַּׁת מוֹרִי וְרַבִּי (הַמַּגִּיד מִמֶּעזרִיטשׁ) וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם, וּסְפַרְתֶּם הוּא מִלְּשׁוֹן סַפִּירוּת וּבְהִירוּת. וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם, צְרִיכִים לַעֲשׂוֹת שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַלָּכֶם בָּהִיר. וַיִּשָּׁעֵן כְּבוֹד קְדוּשַּׁת אַאַזְמוּ"ר עַל זְרוֹעוֹת קָדְשׁוֹ וַיְשׁוֹרֵר אֶת הַנִּגּוּן שֶׁל ד' בָּבוֹת בִּדְבֵקוּת גְּדוֹלָה. אַחַר כַּךְ הִגְבִּיהַּ אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ וַיֹּאמַר — בְּנִגּוּן שֶׁל שְׁאֵלָה: וּבַמֶּה מְסַפְּרִים אֶת הַלָּכֶם? וְתוֹךְ כְּדֵי דִבּוּר אָמַר — בְּנִגּוּן שֶׁל תְּשׁוּבָה: בְּשֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת תְּמִימוֹת, בְּבֵרוּר שֶׁבַע הַמִּדּוֹת, שֶׁכָּל מִדָּה וּמִדָּה תִּהְיֶה כְּלוּלָה מִשֶּׁבַע, וְשֶׁבַע הַמִּדּוֹת עַצְמָם יִהְיוּ שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת, דְּשַׁבָּת אֵינָהּ צְרִיכָה בֵּרוּר.

During the festive meal on the second day of Shavuos, 5621 (1861), the Tzemach Tzedek related that during the festive meal on the second day of Shavuos, 5555 (1795), his grandfather, the Alter Rebbe, had said: “During the festive meal on the second day of Shavuos, 5528 (1768), my Rebbe, the Maggid of Mezritch, [interpreted the command],2 U’Sfartem lachem (lit., ‘And you shall count for yourselves’) as follows: The verb U’Sfartem (lit., ‘you shall count’) shares a root with the Hebrew word for the translucent sapphire. [Hence, on the non-literal level of interpretation known as derush, this verb implies an additional meaning — ‘you shall make luminous.’]3 [The object of that verb is] lachem (‘yourselves’). [Thus, on a mystical level, the message of the above command is]: ‘You shall make yourselves luminous!’”

The Tzemach Tzedek continued: “My revered grandfather, the Alter Rebbe, then leaned on his forearms and sang the Niggun of Four Themes4 in a rapt state of intense dveikus. He then raised his head and asked in a rhetorical singsong: ‘And how do you make yourself luminous?’ He immediately answered his own question, again melodiously: ‘By counting seven perfect weeks — by refining the seven primary character traits,5 so that each of those character traits is [tempered by being] interconnected with all seven attributes.

“ ‘The seven character traits will then be seven Shabbasos [i.e., they will be Shabbos-like], in the sense that Shabbos does not need to be refined.’ “6

A Pearl to Cherish

Pesach is a revelation from above. G‑d takes us out of Egypt, releasing us from our boundaries and limitations — but on His terms. It has been said that it took G‑d one moment to take the Jews out of Egypt, but forty years to take Egypt out of the Jews.

Ridding our personalities of our personal Egypt is part of the ongoing task expressed by the above message of the Maggid of Mezritch: “U’Sfartem lachem — Youshall make yourselves luminous!”