Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I understand that it is a mitzvah to count the 49 days of the omer from the second night of Pesach through erev Shavuos. But what is the spiritual value of counting s'fira? I.e. what does G-d want me to achieve by doing this mitzvah, if we know?

share|improve this question
    
A Torah mitzva? –  Double AA Apr 14 '13 at 15:10
    
    
Not only is there machloket, but most opinions seem to hold it is rabbinic nowadays. To be biblical we have to count from an actual korban haomer, which unfortunately didn't happen 19 days ago. Maybe next year! –  Double AA Apr 14 '13 at 20:29
    
@DoubleAA ok, I edited. –  Bruce James Apr 14 '13 at 23:11
    
@DoubleAA, applicable nowadays or not, it's not incorrect to say (as the question originally did) "it is a Torah mitzvah to count the 49 days of the omer". It is one of the 613. –  msh210 Apr 15 '13 at 2:28
show 1 more comment

1 Answer

The Chinuch (306, in my own translation) says:

Among the roots of the command [to count the omer]… is that the whole basis of Israel is for nothing but the Torah… and the reason the Jews were redeemed from Egypt was so they could receive the Torah at Sinai and keep it…. Therefore… we were commanded to count from the day after the holiday of Passover to the day of the giving of the Torah to show our own souls the great yearning for the day…. For counting shows someone that his whole attention and desire is to reach that time.

A theme frequently expressed by the Chinuch (and some others), though not made explicit here, is that a person's actions make him into a person who tends to do those actions. (I know little about cognitive behavioral therapy, but I think this is the basic principle underlying it, too.) Here, then, I think he is trying to say that, by counting the omer as if yearning for the Torah, we will come to yearn for it in fact.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, in Horeb (paragraph 214 in Rabbi Dr. Grunfeld's translation), says similarly:

In this way [i.e. by counting the omer] you declare… that Passover finds its culmination in Shavuoth, that is to say, that freedom with all its inherent blessings… acquires worth, reality and meaning only through the principles of the Torah. For Israel was delivered from the bondage of Egypt only to serve the Torah….

share|improve this answer
    
I heard something along these lines the other day where it was said that we can look at Pesach and Shavuos as one big chag, and the period of s'firas haomer as the chol hamoed. –  Bruce James Apr 14 '13 at 20:20
    
@BruceJames Check out Ramban al haTorah. –  Double AA Apr 14 '13 at 23:12
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.