MORDECHAI'S SPECIAL TALENT
(Mishnah): Pesachyah was appointed over Kinim. This is Mordechai;
He is called Pesachyah because he opens words and expounds them, and knows all 70 languages.
Objection: Everyone on the Sanhedrin knows all 70 languages!
(R. Yochanan): We only put on a Sanhedrin Chachamim of great stature and appearance, that are old, understand witchcraft, and know all 70 languages in order that Beis Din should not have to hear testimony through an interpreter.
Retraction: Rather, he is called Pesachyah because he Bayil (mixes) words and expounds them (e.g. the mute's gestures);
Support: He is called "Mordechai Bilshan".
REAPING THE OMER
(Mishnah): On Erev Pesach, Shluchei Beis Din tie the ends of the (attached) sheaves to facilitate cutting them;
All the surrounding cities gather there, in order that the reaping will be a loud event.
When it is dark, each reaper asks 'Is it night?' The crowd answers 'Yes!' This is repeated three times.
Each reaper asks 'Is this a sickle?' The crowd answers 'Yes!' (three times.)
Each reaper asks 'Is this a box?' The crowd answers 'Yes!' (three times.)
If it is Shabbos, each asks 'Is it Shabbos?' The crowd answers 'Yes!' (three times.)
Each asks 'Should I reap?' The crowd says 'Reap!' (three times.)
Question: Why do we make this such an event?
Answer: This is to emphatically disprove the Baisusim (people who do not accept the Oral tradition, like Tzedukim), who say that the Omer is not reaped on Motzei Yom Tov (rather, on Motzei Shabbos).
(Gemara - Beraisa #1): One may not fast on the following days (they are like Yamim Tovim due to good things that Hash-m bestowed to us). On some of them, even eulogies are forbidden:
From Rosh Chodesh Nisan until the eighth commemorates the establishment of the Tamid (this will be explained). Eulogies (R. Gershom - alone; Rashi - and all the more so fasting) are forbidden;
From the eighth of Nisan until the end of Pesach commemorates the establishment of Shavu'os. Eulogies are (Rashi's text - fasting is) forbidden.
The establishment of the Tamid - the Tzedukim used to expound "Es ha'Kevesh Echad Ta'aseh (singular)..." to teach that an individual may bring the Tamid from his own money.
Chachamim refuted them. "Es Korbani...*Tishmeru* (plural)" teaches that all Korbanos Tzibur come from Terumas ha'Lishkah.
WHEN WE START COUNTING THE OMER
(Continuation of Beraisa #1): The establishment of Shavu'os - the Baisusim used to say that Shavu'os is always on Sunday (because we count seven weeks starting "mi'Macharas ha'Shabbos").
R. Yochanan ben Zakai: Fools! What is your source (that 'Shabbos' does not refer to Yom Tov, which is also called "Shabason")?
Only one of them answered him: Moshe loved Yisrael. Since Shavu'os is only one day, he enacted (with Hash-m's approval) that it will be after Shabbos, so it will be like a two-day Yom Tov for Yisrael to enjoy.
R. Yochanan ben Zakai: "Achad Asar Yom me'Chorev..." - if Moshe made enactments because he loved Yisrael, all the more so he should have brought them into Eretz Yisrael as soon as possible, and not delay them 40 years in the Midbar!
The Baisusi: Do you consider that a refutation of my answer?!
R. Yochanan ben Zakai: Fool! We have proof. I can freely reject your nonsense.
Contradiction: It says "Tisperu Chamishim Yom" (count until (but not including) 50. It does not matter when in the week we start counting), and it says "Sheva Shabasos Temimos Tihyenah" (implying that seven full weeks (from Motzei Shabbos to Shabbos) must be counted!)
Resolution: (Always, we start counting immediately after the first day of Yom Tov.) If Yom Tov is on Shabbos, the count of 49 days encompasses seven full weeks. If Yom Tov is any other day, there are not seven full weeks. We fulfill only "Tisperu Chamishim Yom".)
R. Eliezer says, we have a different source. "Tispar Lach" teaches that the count depends on Beis Din, for they are Mekadesh Yom Tov (through fixing the start of each month);
"Mi'Macharas ha'Shabbos" is the day after Yom Tov. It cannot be the day after Shabbos, for that does not depend on Beis Din.
R. Yehoshua says, the Torah says to count days to be Mekadesh the month, and to count days to be Mekadesh Shavu'os;
Version #1 (Rashi): Just like it is evident when to start counting towards a month (we count 29 days after the Nolad (new moon, the next day can be Rosh Chodesh), it is evident when to start counting towards Shavu'os (after Yom Tov);
Version #2 (R. Tam): Just like the coming of a month is evident (the moon is invisble), also the coming of Shavu'os (when the moon is the size it reaches on the 5th of the month.) (end of Version #2)
If Shavu'os were always on Sunday (it can vary from the 6th to the 12th of the month,) this (Rashi - the start of the count) is not evident!
R. Yishmael says, the Torah says to bring the Omer on Pesach and Shtei ha'Lechem on Shavu'os;
Just like Shtei ha'Lechem is brought during a festival, at the beginning, the Omer is brought at the beginning of Pesach. (Even though Shavu'os is only one day, since individuals may bring their obligatory offerings of Shavu'os during the following six days, it is called the beginning of a Regel.)
R. Yehudah ben Beseira says, it says "Shabbos" regarding the end of the count ("Ad mi'Macharas ha'Shabbos ha'Shevi'is...") and the beginning ("u'Sfartem Lachem mi'Macharas ha'Shabbos");
Just like (Macharas, i.e. the day after) ha'Shabbos (here, this means 'week') at the end of the count is a Regel, and it is the start of a Regel, also (Macharas) ha'Shabbos at the beginning is a Regel, and at the start of a Regel. (It is the morrow of the first day of Yom Tov.)
(Beraisa #2): "U'Sfartem Lachem" - it is a Mitzvah for every individual to count. We begin "mi'Macharas ha'Shabbos", i.e. after Yom Tov.
Suggestion: Perhaps it means after Shabbos Bereishis (i.e. what we normally call Shabbos)!
Rejection (R. Yosi b'Rebbi Yehudah): "Tisperu Chamishim Yom" - you always count 50 days (even if we start counting from the same day of the month as we started last year);
If you always count from Motzei Shabbos, sometimes it is 51, 52... up to 56 days! (E.g. if last year Pesach was on Shabbos, so we started counting on the 16th of Nisan, and this year Pesach is not on Shabbos, we will start counting (on Motza'ei Shabbos) on the 17th, 18th... or 22nd of Nisan. Shavu'os will be between 51 and 56 days from the start of last year's count.)