Tomorrow night at the end of our second Seder, we begin Sifrat HaOmer, Counting the Omer. 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. The people brought their Omer to 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. Upon departing Egypt, 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, 1979), 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. Our aspiration is to receive and practice it.
The counting is rife with rules, and we are not so punctilious as to address every one of them here. However, I do hope that you at least have the rudiments before you as we embark on our journey to Shavuot. Join us this year at Agudas as we have a special Omer counting tree we will fill in each day, while displaying and discussing it.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach (Happy Passover)!
Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham
Please note that due to the Passover holiday, Rabbi Abraham's next message will be on Friday, April 17th.