In this week’s Torah portion Parshat Emor, we are at the moment in the midst of fulfilling one of the commands in this week’s Parsha - the counting of the Omer as the verse states:
“From the day after the Sabbath (the holiday of Shavuot), the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the L-RD”.
Something that I was always curious about is why is there a mitzvah to count up to the holiday of Shavuot? There are many important holidays with many exciting themes. However we don’t have any concept of counting the days that lead up to them.
According to the Rabbinic tradition, The Torah doesn’t have any extra words. The Rabbi’s, therefore, noticed that the Commandment reads to “count off seven full weeks”. There is practical law derived from here to count both the weeks and the days.
An explanation I would like to offer is that since on Shavuot we are celebrating the acceptance of the Torah and only from it do we have any Commandments for other holidays, its construct is slightly different.
In general, when we are excited about an upcoming event like the Levine Academy Israel trip, we count up to that date (303 DAYS from today). Thus, in recognition of Torah as the ultimate source not just for the holidays but for our ability to strive for a more perfected and spiritual self, we count. As we know, on Passover we eat matzah (unleavened bread). However, on Shavuot one of the offers brought in the Temple was two loaves of bread. On Passover, we demonstrate the shedding of the physical and our connection to the spiritual; On Shavuot, we are supposed to demonstrate the perfection of the physical to use bread not in a glutinous way but rather as a sacrifice.
It my sincere blessing to all of us that over the course of the counting of the Omer, we reflect on our actions and strive for true internal growth.