Accumulating Days

“Seven weeks you shall count — seven perfect weeks they shall be”

The Torah commands that on the day after Yom Tov the Jewish people should bring an Omer offering in the Beis Hamikdash — a measure of barley from the new crop. Then we should start to count day by day until we’ve counted 49 days, totaling seven full weeks. On the 50th day, a Holy Day was observed on which an offering of wheat from the new crop was offered in the form of two loaves. Each of these offerings made their respective grains — heretofore forbidden for consumption — permitted going forward.

The Sefer Hachinuch says that the count demonstrates our desire to receive the Torah and our great anticipation of that event. When one is anticipating one’s marriage or the day one will leave on vacation to Eretz Yisrael, one counts down until there are zero days left. Why do we count up when we count to demonstrate our anticipation of getting Hashem’s greatest gift to mankind?

The holy books write that the days of the counting of the Omer are days of preparation for the receiving of the Torah on the Holy Day of Shavuos. We are required, therefore, to use each day to internalize one of the traits needed for learning the Torah. When one adds a day to his count, he should consider: “What have I accomplished in the previous days and what should I do in the days ahead?” If one is promised a fixed amount of money each day, then one counts up to appreciate the wealth one has accumulated. As a Jew preparing for accepting the Torah, one is expected to perfect the 49 middos which make one able to acquire Torah. As each day of accomplishment passes, we count up to show the accumulation of spiritual wealth we have achieved.

In the parashah, Hashem commands that these weeks be “temimot” — perfect and complete. We interpret this to mean that one should not miss even one day’s count and one should count early on in the night so that each day is also as complete as is possible. Rebbi Chiya said: “When are they perfect? When Israel does the Will of Hashem.” What is the connection between a perfect count and doing the Will of the Creator?

When we study the end of the lives of our Patriarchs, we see that their lives are considered a collection of days. “And Abraham was old — he came with his days,” “And the days of Yaakov’s death neared.” It says “days,” not “the day.” How many days of death does one person have?

Rather, the intention is that the greats who lived perfect lives of devotion to Hashem came before Him at the end of their lives with all of their days. Their days were days of accomplishment. This is what Rebbi Chiya meant to imply. When one does the will of G-d, one is improving oneself and growing into a more perfect individual, one more suited to accept Torah. When one misses even one day of the count to perfection, one leaves a gap in the “temimus” of the Omer.

So as we count towards the 49th day, we should work on ourselves to improve daily in character traits crucial to becoming a perfect human being — the one Hashem gave each of us the potential to become.

Shabbat Shalom.


 

Rabbi Raymond Beyda serves in the Sephardic Community in Brooklyn, N.Y. He lectures to audiences all over the world. He has distributed over 500,000 recorded lessons free of charge. He is author of the book 1 Minute With Yourself: A Minute a Day to Self-Improvement, Sephardic Press, 2008.