Shabbat Greetings

As we are in the midst of counting the Omer (the daily counting of the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot), its very appropriate that we read this mitzvah (commandment) in this week’s Torah portion, Emor (Leviticus 21:1-24:23): “You shall count “for yourselves” seven “perfect weeks” from Passover when you brought the barley offering, until the day after the 7th week, when there will be a total of fifty days.” (23:15)

How does one count for “themselves” and what are “perfect” weeks? The Dubno Maggid (Jacob ben Wolf Kranz (1741-1804) was a rabbinic orator) explained with a beautiful parable: Two poor friends went from door to door collecting charity. They traveled together, begged together, and received equally from those kind enough to help them. One was industrious, he scrimped and saved every penny he received, spending as little as possible. He saved a few pennies… they added up to nickels… his nickels became dimes and so on until he had dollar bills in his pocket.

The other poor person was not as disciplined and spent his money wantonly. He never saved enough pennies to change into nickels or dimes. 

The counting of the Omer is like a righteous person that makes every day count. Every day is full of meaningful activities and an opportunity for the performance of righteous acts, or mitzvot. Each day is connected to the other in continuous service to God and humanity. That service ties days together, making them a week. The goals accomplished over weeks turn into a month of meaningful effort. The accomplishments of twelve months translate into a year… accomplishments of years – define one’s lifetime.

An irresponsible person does not have that continuity. The “Rasha – evil person” lives from day to day. All the past days are forgotten. There is no connection between the present and yesterday let alone tomorrow.

Just like the poor person who was able to take every single penny and combine it into a large sum of money, we too must use every day of Counting the Omer to elevate ourselves through acts of love, kindness and righteousness. For then we don’t just “count” each day, we make each day “count”. And that is how these seven weeks become “perfect” in the eyes of God as we strengthen humanity.