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by Reb Mordechai Rosen z"l
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What does Hashem Elokecha ask from you, but to fear Hashem Elokecha
and to walk in His ways? (Devorim, Perek Yud, Pasuk Yud Gimmel)
The 49 days that we count from Pesach to Shavous are given to us to work on our Middos. It is a time of introspection, a time when we ask the Ribbono Shel Olam to help us improve our ways. Chazal tech us "Derech Eretz kadma LaTorah." It is only after this time of improvement that we can receive the Torah.
We cam also see this in the piyut we sing about Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. We say "Lifnei Me Atah Metaher, Me Metaher Eschem". Literally translated this reads, before whom do you become pure, who purifies you? But we can also read it just a little differently. The word Me is spelled Mem Yud and has a gematria of 50. "Lifnei Me", before 50 - Shavous - Atah Metaher, you work on purifying yourself. Then comes Matan Torah, Shavous and "Me Metaher Eschem" - Avichem Shebashamayim" - on the 50th day, our Father in heaven purifies us with His Torah.
It is only when we have worked to cleanse ourselves through the 49 days of Sefira that we are Zocheh to the purity of Torah - Derech Eretz Kadma LaTorah.
Editors Note: I came across this vort for the first time about seven months ago. It was written the first day Chol Hamoed Pesach in the year 5750. What is interesting is the parallel it has to my father's life. My father was born the day before Lag B'omer and died shortly after his 50th birthday. It was right before his 50th Shavous that his condition began to worsen. I have always thought that this vort was prophetic. Until his 50th year, my father worked very hard on improving himself and his middos - "Lifnei Me Atah Metaher", until 50 he was Metaher himself. Then came his 50th year and the Ribbon Shel Olam took over the cleansing process. "Me Metaher Eschem - Avichem Shebashamayim".
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