Although the period of time between Pesach and Shavuot, which by all rights should be filled with the joy and anticipation of receiving Torah, has been designated a time of semi-mourning with restrictions on weddings, shopping, music and other celebrations, commemorating the slaughter of up to three-quarters of the world’s Jews during the Bar Kochba failed war of liberation, there have always been cracks in this facade of mourning. We move to the opposite pole, singing Hallel, a prayer of thanks of celebration, all seven or eight days of Pesach (depending on whether we’re privileged to celebrate in the Holy Land or are still in galut, exile), two days of Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, Yom HaAtzmaut (added just before I was born) , Yom Yerushalayim (added in my own lifetime!) and Rosh Chodesh Sivan, When you add the seven Shabbatot during which we’re exempt from any kind of public mourning, with Lag B’Omer, another festive day as well as the four days from Rosh Chodesh Sivan until Shavuot when we refrain from Tachanun (a supplicatory prayer, the deleting of which usually indicates at least a relief from mourning), this brings us to a total of 25 out of the 49 days of Sefira where we actually do not observe at least some mourning customs. Some of us observe other important yahrzeits such as the Ramchal’s (26 Iyyar) where we don’t say Tachanun, adding to the total. In other words, it appears that over time there are fewer and fewer somber days in this period.
There is an halachic principle of critical mass, often needing just a simple majority. It operates in kashrut in some cases of food from an unknown source we decide on a basis of its likeliest source (kosher or non-kosher–a simple majority). Another example is the aforementioned Tachanun prayer which, because it isn’t said on a majority of days in the month of Nissan, is omitted every day of that month.
In spite of all the world events that seem to bring us closer and closer to chaotic destruction, we are, underlying it all, inexorably also moving closer to Geula, the ultimate redemption The שיר של יום (Shir Shel Yom) daily psalm for Shabbat, as described in a final passage of the Musaf service, is מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר לְיוֹם הַשַּׁבָּת. מִזְמוֹר שִׁיר לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא, לְיוֹם שֶׁכֻּלּוֹ שַׁבָּת וּמְנוּחָה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָמִים, “A psalm, a song for Shabbat, a psalm for the future when every day is Shabbat and restful peace is eternal”.
May we be filled with the pure light of Torah this Shavuot and and may we make this אור עליום (Or Elyon), Divine Light, seen throughout the world.
Amen. Shabbat Shalom and Chag Someach!