Starting the Second day of Pesach / Passover we start counting the Omer – a personal barley offering that is made by farmers between the fesivals of Passover (for the Jew’s freedom from Egypt) and Shavuot (the receiving of the Torah.)- a total of 49 days. This counting Corresponds to two countings – one is what day of the offerings it is in this offering. It also corresponds to how many days have passed in the counting up of days to Shavuot.
Usually when one looks forward to an event they count down. How many more days till their birthday, how many more days till their marriage, how many more days to get out of jail, how many more days to vacation.
So why here do we count upwards? 1,2,3… instead of downwards 49,48,47,… till the receiving of the Torah.
Rabbi Shimshon Pincus, gives an answer. Let’s say a person was promised One Million Dollars in 100 days. He would count down the days. But if he was promised $10,000 dollars a day for 100 days – he would count up the days.
The days between Pesach and Shavuot are 49. To acquire Torah – it requires 48 things. These are listed in Pirkei Avot / Ethics of the Fathers – Chapter 6 Mishna 5. Every day we are supposed to work on a different aspect of growth to acquire the Torah – totalling 48 days and the last day we are to work on all of them. Thus we count upwards – because every day between them is a day of growth – a day to be thankful.
Yaakov Avinu / Jacob Our Forefather – wanted to marry Rachel. Lavan – Rachel’s Father – said if Yaakov would work for him for 7 years he would give his daughter’s hand in marriage to Yaakov. The Torah says something puzzling – for Yaakov the 7 years seemed like several days. I would think the opposite – when a person wants to marry – they feel as it is such a long time.
The Answer – Yaakov was preparing himself for marriage every day to be able to be the founder of the Jewish nation. Every day was a day of growth for him. Every day he would become better by learning Torah and working to improve his character traits. Thus for him it seemed like several days.
Three Point to learn
- One has to prepare themselves to get married by working on improving their Middot / character traits. Some people go into marriage thinking – OK now I have someone to serve my needs. But really that is the weak link in the marriage chain – because once one of the spouses does not behave according to their expectations – the chain breaks. If one entered into marriage thinking this is my opportunity to do good to others and to improve my character traits – the chain would not break – because the challenges (like the wife yelling at the husband, the man leaving his clothes around the house, etc.) are seen as opportunities for growth to become a better person.
- One should go into marriage understanding that this is an opportunity to do good to others and to improve my character traits.
- Every day is an opportunity to Grow – Self improvement is an integral part of acquiring Torah. To become a Dr., a Scientist, a Professor – one does not necessarily need to have good character traits. To become a Torah scholar or to acquire Torah one does.