Vayikra 23:15 translates the word Shabbatot as 'weeks', weeks that are to be Temimot (compleet/perfect);

Normally this would be from Yom Rishon till Shabbat like in the phrase: 'Yom rishon l'shabbat (first day towards the Shabbat)' is referring to the first day of the week, which is the first day towards the Shabbat, all days count up towards the Shabbat, which is the seventh day (The week culminates in the seventh day, the Holy Shabbat - Shabbat Kodesh).

But because the complete verse in context tells that one should count from 'the morrow of the shabbat'; Usfartem lachem mimochorat hashabbat, and this Shabat is rendered as the first Yom Tov of Pesach, the week can't always mean a week from yom rishon till shabbat.

How can the shabbatot be temimot? And what is the difference between Shabbatot and Shavua (Shavuot)? What does the term 'week' mean here?

  • 1
    "Yom rishon ba'shabbat" maybe means "Day one of the week" without reference to the Sabbath?
    – Double AA
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:48
  • What has caused more confusion (and debate) is that within the same verse, the word "Shabbat" has two separate meanings.
    – DanF
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, in his commentary1 on this verse, explains that while shavua' refers simply to a run of seven days, shabbat, in this context, refers to the Shabbat day and the surrounding days that feel its influence. In a shabbat-week, the days leading up to Shabbat are for doing work that is then offered "in homage at the feet of the Lord and Master" when Shabbat comes, and the work stops. The days following Shabbat are an opportunity to demonstrate and live the bond with God that had been renewed on Shabbat.

Thus, the instruction here is not just to count the weeks, as that commandment is in Deuteronomy 16:9. Here, the people are required to experience seven weeks that are totally (temimot) dedicated to the Shabbat ideal. By living through a super-set of seven such uplifted weeks, the people internalize the idea that all their work, everything they do to further independent existence on the Land (which the Omer offering at the start of the process embodies), is fully dedicated to serving God. In that spirit, they become ready to relive the acceptance of, and dedication to God's Law at the end of the process.

There's a great deal more beautiful detail about the meaning available in the Omer experience in R' Hirsch's commentary on this and the surrounding and related verses. I encourage you to check it out.

1. This is a link to the commentary translated into Hebrew. English translations are available in book form.


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