Passover 8th Day/Shabbat
Reading Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17
During Pesach, we pause in the Torah cycle to read from a passage of Deuteronomy, which deals with a variety of laws, including those related to tithes, the year of release of all debts and the release of slaves - both after seven years. The portion speaks extensively about compassion for the poor. A very comprehensive description Passover observance is outlined, as well as how we should observe Shavu'ot (the feast of weeks).
On this Shabbat, we also read from the Song of Songs. Rabbinic tradition interprets this lush and poetic book as a love song where the "beloved" is taken to mean God and the "bride" is the people of Israel. The tradition of reading the Song of Songs is especially appropriate to Pesach, because it is marked as the beginning of the courtship of the people of Israel and God. Metaphorically speaking, God and the Israelites became "wedded" at Mt. Sinai by the people's acceptance of the Torah.
Counting of the Omer
According to the Torah, we are obligated to count the days between Pesach and Shavu'ot, when we are given the Torah. (Leviticus 23:15) This is known as the Counting of the Omer. The word "omer" is a unit of measure, and was a portion of barley cut down and brought to the Temple as an offering. Every night, we recite a blessing and count in both weeks and days. For example, if this was the 18th day, you would say "Today is eighteen days, which is two weeks and four days of the Omer." The counting reminds us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu'ot, the giving of the Torah. It reminds us that the redemption from slavery was not complete until we receive the Torah
Rabbi Cantor Robbi Sherwin