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Why Do We Count Up the Omer?

Why Do We Count Up the Omer?

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Question:

Why do we count up to Shavuot during the Omer instead of counting down? Isn’t it a countdown from Passover to Shavuot?

Answer:

A countdown is when all you have standing between you and your goal is a certain amount of days. When the time passes, the goal is automatically achieved. You’re simply counting down the days to indicate how much time is left.

But the Omer is not a countdown. When the Jews left Egypt, they were entrenched in the immorality of the land. Think of a prince traveling on a lonely road and suddenly falling into a deep pit from which he cannot emerge. He manages to survive for months and months in the pit, and is eventually rescued by a mighty king. The king is impressed with the prince and offers him his daughter’s hand in marriage. But the prince has just been released from a deep hole. He is filthy, bruised and unkempt. He needs to bathe, cleanse his wounds, groom, and change his clothes before he can marry the princess.

So too, G‑d rescued the Jewish nation from the pit of Egyptian bondage and offered us an eternal bond with the Torah. But we had become so dirty from the Egyptian way of life that we were in no condition to receive the Torah just then. The 49 days until Shavuot were given as a time to cleanse ourselves and prepare for this most monumental of marriages. We counted up because each day we grew a level higher, each day we took one step closer to becoming G‑d’s chosen nation.

Each year we count up again, because the Omer is a time of spiritual refinement. We are not counting down the days that pass. Rather, we are counting up, climbing one step higher each day. You can read more about how we achieve this on a practical level here.

Malkie Janowski is an accomplished educator who lives in Coral Springs, Florida. Mrs. Janowski is also a responder on Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Anonymous May 14, 2016

Excellent and well said! Thanks for posting! Reply