Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us
Numbers are funny things




Numbers are funny things. On the one hand, they seem utterly devoid of meaning: think of the sterility of bureaucracies ("Go to Window #14 and fill out form #3062") or the banality of an address like "25 20th Street." On the other hand, consider how numbers are used when we say things like, "Eighteen years' experience in the business"; "A $450,000 home"; or "This is our child. She's three."

Counting something makes it real to us: only when we have assigned it a quantity can we understand what it means to us and how we can use it. Imagine that you are given a chest full of gold coins. You thank your benefactor and take it home. As soon as the door is securely bolted, what's the first thing you do? Count them, of course. Sure, it feels great to be able to say, "I'm a rich man." But if you want to do something with your riches, you have to know: How much?

"And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the Shabbat, from the day on which you bring the Omer offering, seven complete weeks they shall be; until the morrow of the seventh week, you shall count fifty days... And you shall proclaim that very day a holy festival" (Leviticus 23:15-21)

The people of Israel departed Egypt on the 15th of Nissan, celebrated ever since as the first day of Passover. Seven weeks later, on the 6th of Sivan—marked on our calendar as the festival of Shavuot—we assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai and received the Torah from G‑d.

Every year, we retrace this journey with a 49-day "Counting of the Omer." Beginning on the second night of Passover, we count the days and weeks. "Today is one day to the Omer," we proclaim on the first night of the count. "Today is two days to the Omer," "Today is seven days, which are one week to the Omer", "Today is twenty-six days, which are three weeks and five days day to the Omer," and so on, until: "Today is forty-nine days, which are seven weeks to the Omer." The fiftieth day is Shavuot.

The Kabbalists explain that we each possess seven powers of the heart—love, awe, beauty, ambition, humility, bonding and regality—and that each of these seven powers includes elements of all seven. These are represented by the seven weeks and forty-nine days of the Omer count.

Every Passover, we are granted a treasure chest containing the greatest gift ever given to man—the gift of freedom. It is also a completely useless gift. What is freedom? What can be done with it? Nothing, unless we open the treasure chest and count its contents.

So on the second day of Passover, after we've taken home our treasure, we start counting. We count seven times seven, because the gift of freedom has been given to each of the seven powers and forty-nine dimensions of our soul. Indeed, what use is a capacity for love, if it is a slave to external influences and internal neurosis? Of what value is ambition, if we are its pawn rather than its master?

Each evening for the next seven weeks, we open our treasure chest and count another coin. We count our loving love, intimidating love, beautiful love, ambitious love, humble love, bonding love and regal love. We assign a number to the regality of our awe ("Today is fourteen days, which are two weeks to the Omer") and to the beauty of our humility ("Today is thirty-one days, which are four weeks and three days to the Omer").

We count them all—and then we present ourselves at Mount Sinai.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Anonymous May 18, 2016

Excellent and well said! Thanks for posting! Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for May 20, 2014

Re: The Omer There are two different customs as to how the days are counted. Some congregations have a custom of saying baomer, in the omer, while others have a custom of saying laomer, of or "to" the omer. The wording of the article follows the custom of those recite 'La'omer" - to (or 'of)' the Omer. For more on this see the Counting of the Omer

Jane Thomson New Zealand May 18, 2014

The Omer My understanding is that from Leviticus 23. 15-21 that "you shall count for yourselves, from the morrow of the Shabbat, from the day on which you bring the Omer offering seven complete weeks."
At the end of the seven complete weeks the Torah was given at Mt Sinai and that day is the Holy festival of Shavuot.
So the Omer has been offered and the count is the days since the Omer was offered to move towards the Torah. I don't understand why the writer says in the article " today is day one day TO the Omer. Today is two days TO the Omer" etc. From my understanding the Omer has been given and the day is FROM the Omer. And at day fifty, at seven full weeks, FROM the giving of the Omer, it is the receiving of the Torah. It is not the Omer on day Fifty, it is not the Omer that is given on that day. The Omer was given at the start of the count as detailed in Leviticus. Can you explain to me why the article is saying TO the Omer for each day when Leviticus says the count is FROM the Omer. Reply

Diane Moriarity New port Richey, Florida May 15, 2012

The Omer I greatly enjoyed reading thes comments Reply

Maria New York, NY April 26, 2011

Numbers This is so beautiful! It made me really understand why we count the Omer: after Passover we are not free yet, our bodies may be, but our soul is still enslaved. Only after becoming aware of, and deeply reflecting on each of the seven powers and 49 dimensions of our soul, does it become refined, "cleaned of its defilement", and truly free.
I paired this article with the video "Every moment is precious" by the Rebbe. It is explosive! I expect to gain much growth and many blessings from this wisdom. Thanks. Reply

Franca Englander May 17, 2007

You have been grossely missunderstood,
I feel very sorry for you, I read "Numbers "
and really appreciated.

steve brody roslyn harbor, ny / usa April 25, 2007

numbers Numbers are part of the beauty of nature and nature is part of the beauty of G-d. All is good, all is "One" Reply

- -, - April 17, 2007

- Ever heard of Gematria, Mr. Neira? Reply

Eli April 28, 2006

To Adam Neira: Wasting potential. Actually, the Vilna Gaon in Hagahos HGra Y”D 189:1 writes, that “Investing meaning into numbers” (-Goralos) is NOT likened to sorcery, since one involved in sorcery is transgressing a Negative Commandment, where as “numbers” is only prohibited because of “Tamim Thiye” – you shall be complete with G-d. This obviously doesn’t really matter to this article, since the writer is solely exploring the words of the Zohar, in which the Vilna Gaon obviously was well versed... BTW later in that Siman, Hagahos HaGra 13 the Gaon actually brings the zohar as proof to depute the Rambam’s stand on sorcery. Reply

Abe Staten Island, NY via May 16, 2005

Numbers Thank you Eliyahu Bari. Some people have irrational issues with numbers due to limited skills. Things like numbers, money and wealth have great potential to perfom Miztvahs. Reply

Eliyahu Bari Alpharetta, GA/USA May 4, 2005

Counting of Omer and misrepresentaion of VilnaGaon Adam Neira, certainly you didn't mean to say that the Vilna Gaon was against fulfilling G-d given mitzva of counting of Omer? Surely when it gets to our own "discoveries" that may be true. Lets say if you where to invest meaning into some numbers, but again not when its a case specifically commanded by Almighty, don't you think? Google for "vilna gaon on counting of omer" and you'll get tons of material on Gaon's comments on Sfirat HaOmer.
To conclude: do not speak on belhaf of a brilliant tzadik for in misrepresenting his powerfull G-d instilled words with your limited comprehension of it you doing something that is very unadvisable. Hag sameah! Reply

Rochi Shemtov montevideo, uruguay April 30, 2004

Excellent and to the point! Reply

Adam Neira Melbourne, Great Southern Land April 30, 2004

Wasting potential. Investing meaning into numbers is akin to sorcery and has no place in Judaism. The Vilna Gaon warned people about wandering off to Astrology, Numerology and other such diversions.


This page in other languages