Last Friday night I gave an overview of Sifrat HaOmer, Counting the Omer, and since those in attendance seemed very interested, I wanted to make sure to share some of this with the larger congregation. You may recall that we began counting at the end of the second Seder, and we are directed to do so from Leviticus 23:15-16. We count from one to 49 with day 50 being Shavuot.
An omer is a measure of the first barley harvest. As I related last week, the people brought their Omerto the Temple to demonstrate appreciation to God for his wondrous bounty. Upon the destruction of the Temple that rationale lost its meaning. Part of our current day reasoning is to demonstrate our resolve to reclaim the soil of the Land of Israel.
The primary thrust of "the counting" today is the leading up to Shavuot. Our people were told that in 50 days they would receive the Torah. It is said, (and I would like to leave you with this beautiful thought from Rabbi Isaac Klein in his Guide to Religious Practice), that our counting is "...a bridge connecting Pesach to Shavuot, including that we want not only freedom from bondage but also freedom for a purpose." He goes on to bring down that the receiving of the Torah was the purpose and goal of the Exodus, to receive the moral law and to practice it.
The counting is rife with rules, and we are not so punctilious as to address every one of them for the 50 day span. However, I do hope that you at least have the rudiments before you as we embark on our journey to Shavuot. If there is more interest, I would be happy to expound on this further.
Shabbat Shalom and Moadim L'Simcha!
Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham