From the beginning of time we count almost everything around us.
From the day we are born, we start our counting.
We count the days until happy events happen, and we count the time from when a tragic event happened. We count money and we count our children. And of course we count time. Counting is something intrinsic in our make up as people in this world.
Up in the heavenly worlds time has a different meaning which we cannot fathom. However, even in Hashem’s world He is constantly counting the days until He can return home to Yerushalayim, the city of gold.
During this time period in between the holiday of Pesach and the holiday of Shavuot, we find ourselves counting the Omer. This mitzvah derives from the Torah commandment to count forty-nine days beginning from the day on which the Omer, a sacrifice containing an Omer-measure of barley, was offered in the Temple in Jerusalem, up until the day before an offering of wheat was brought to the Temple on Shavuot.
The idea of counting each day represents spiritual preparation and anticipation for the giving of the Torah which was given by Hashem on Mount Sinai at the beginning of the month of Sivan, around the same time as the holiday of Shavuot.
The Sefer HaChinuch states that the Jewish nation was only freed from Egypt on Pesach, in order to receive the Torah at Har Sinai, and to fulfill its laws. Thus the counting of the Omer demonstrates how much a Jew desires to accept the Torah in their own life.
There are so many laws and spiritual meanings behind these special days we count. The days of Sefirat HaOmer are divided into sections of our attributes. We are meant to fix a different aspect of our middot as we count each day.
Did we ever stop to think that not only are we counting different behaviors we possess but rather we are counting the love between us and Hashem?
We know so well how to count negative traits in ourselves and in others. But do we know how to count love? Can one count love? Is love something physical or spiritual? The answer is both.
Love is both tangible and spiritual. We can feel a kiss or a hug, however that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are loved. To feel loved is a very deep and meaningful expression.
Hashem, who loves us most in the world and who commanded us to love Him in return, gave all the laws written down in the Torah so that we will know how and what it means to really love G-d back.
When we count something we love, it feels nice. But usually we are counting something tangible.
Are the days we count tangible? Can we feel Hashem’s love during these special days more than on others? During this time period we also have many sad memories of the many students of Rabbi Akiva who passed away. And many memorial days here in Israel commemorating all the soldiers and loved ones who perished in the wars of the land and in the unspeakable tragedy of the Holocaust. So where is all that love that we are counting during this section of time between Pesach and Shavuot?
Hashem’s love is felt in many forms. Because these days are so holy and filled with the cleansing of our souls and of our being, we must understand that sad days are a part of love as well. If we didn’t love and care so much about someone, we wouldn’t be so sad if they were gone. The fact that we are sad about the passing of so many beautiful souls means that we are so filled with love.
Hashem is constantly sending us ways to grow in spirituality and to feel Hashem’s kindness. G-d wants to make sure that we don’t get caught up in the physical realm and forget what really counts, so Hashem sends us messages to keep us on track.
These special and trying days of Sefirat HaOmer and of the memorial days during this time, are here to remind us to count how much good we have. We also have to count all the love we have from all the people around us, and especially to count how much Hashem loves us. And most of all we count the days to bring us to receiving the Torah once again. In this way we can receive G-d’s greatest gift in the world. The Torah.