During the days between the beginning of Pesach (Passover) and
Shavuos, we count the omer each evening. On Shavuos, we celebrate
having received the Torah at Mt. Sinai. We are therefore counting the
days until we receive the Torah. The sefer haChinuch, a classical
commentator, asks what has become a well-known question. We know
that often, if one is looking forward to an event, he counts down
towards that event. For example, we often see that young children
count down to an event happening using language like "only 3 days left
until ___! Only 2 days left! Only one day left!". However, here, when
we count the omer, we increase our count each night. We are certainly
looking forward to receiving the Torah on Shavuos, so why don't we
count down towards that event? Why do we count up?
Rabbi Gibber offers the following answer. In the days leading up to
Shavuos, we are supposed to work on ourselves, so that we will merit
receiving the Torah. If we start off our counting with 49, it will be
very daunting because we see the 48 days ahead of us in their
entirety, and each day requires our working on ourselves in a
Therefore, we count upwards. We add a number each day, and each day we
can reflect on what we have accomplished the previous day. This is in
general the way we should approach mitzvos. We should try to
accomplish what we can each day, and instead of looking at the large
task before us, we should take one day at a time and try to achieve as
much as we can in that day.
Have a wonderful Shabbos and an enjoyable Shavuos!
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Rabbi Naftali Karp
Every week Rabbi Karp sends out thoughts about the weekly Torah portion. Enjoy!