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?

  • A Torah mitzva?
    – Double AA
    Apr 14, 2013 at 15:10
  • meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/q/988/759
    – Double AA
    Apr 14, 2013 at 15:16
  • 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, 2013 at 20:29
  • @DoubleAA ok, I edited. Apr 14, 2013 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, 2013 at 2:28

1 Answer 1


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….

  • 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. Apr 14, 2013 at 20:20
  • @BruceJames Check out Ramban al haTorah.
    – Double AA
    Apr 14, 2013 at 23:12

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