YomTov, Vol. I, # 18
Sefiras HaOmer - The Counting of the Omer
by Rabbi Yehudah Prero
Now that we know what an Omer is, what does it have to do with counting?
In order to answer this question, let us look at different aspects of this
counting, piece by piece:
(The Sefer HaChinuch is the source for all of the answers below.)
1) Why do we count the days and weeks from the second day of Pesach to Shavu'os?
The Sefer HaChinuch writes that the foundation of the people of Israel is
Torah. Not only is the Torah the foundation of the Jewish people, but it is
the foundation of the world as well, as the world was created because of the
Torah. The reason we were taken out of Egypt was so that we could receive
the Torah at Sinai, and fulfill its dictates. Therefore, as the sole reason
for our departure from Egypt was so that we could get the Torah, our
sustaining force, we were commanded to count from the second day of Pesach
until the day that the Torah was given. By doing so, we can demonstrate to
ourselves how great our desire is and how we long for the day that
commemorates the most special occasion in our lives. This counting is
similar to that of a slave or prisoner, who counts the days to his freedom
with great fervor. When a person counts to a certain event or time, it
demonstrates how greatly he wants to reach that point.
2) Why do we count the days that have past, as opposed to counting the days
that remain between us and our goal?
We count the days that have past rather than the days that still remain,
because of the emotions that a count may elicit. We want to minimize the
pain that comes with the realization that there is still time that separates
us from the moment we are waiting for so anxiously. Therefore, we count the
days that have passed, as the knowledge that there is time behind us will
bring us joy, for we are getting closer to the moment we have been waiting for.
3)Why do we begin our count from the second day of Pesach, and not the first?
The first day of Pesach is dedicated to remembering the huge miracle that
occurred, that being our redemption from Egypt. Our departure was a miracle
which in essence was of proportions never seen before and a clear
demonstration of Hashem's control of our destiny. We should not cause
anything to interfere with the happiness this commemoration brings.
Therefore, our countdown to receiving the Torah, which brings happiness as
well, begins on the next day.
4)If we count from the second day of Pesach, why then do we say "X days from
the _Omer_;" Why don't we say "X days from the _second day of Pesach_?"
It is not fitting that we enumerate the days of our count by referring to
the first day as "the second day of Pesach." We instead refer to what we do
on that second day, which is what makes that second day special. On the
second day, the Korban Omer was brought. The bringing of the Omer provides
us with a remembrance that we believe in Hashem. We acknowledge that Hashem
is the one who wants us to live, and therefore provides us with sustenance
in every year, so that we can serve Him and keep the Torah. The occasion of
bringing the Omer (which carried this message with it) is what makes the
second day special, and therefore we use the day which we bring the Omer as
the reference point for our counting.
Check out all of the posts on the Omer! Head over to
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For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.