For decades, technology companies have been thinking up the best ways to drive user engagement on their platforms. Tech giants have notoriously leveraged various psychological and social hacks to keep people using their applications. Recently, a specific kind of instrument has been used to maintain consistent usage from consumers: a clever construct called “streaks.”

First made popular by companies like Snapchat and Duolingo, the streaks concept tallies consistent action on the platform, building an ever growing score that rewards you for continued, unbroken use of the app. ‘Streaks’ work because they take advantage of the need for routine and the competitive drive to not want to break a “winning streak.” By nudging consumers to take certain actions at steady intervals, the app builds a habit.

New platforms have incorporated this model into their own designs—and to much success. The popular social-media app BeReal sends randomized daily notifications for users to take impromptu photos of themselves and their surroundings and share it with their friends. The web game Wordle, which challenges players to guess a daily five-letter word and became a worldwide craze in 2022, utilized the streak concept by releasing one word a day and giving a score that grows for every day you guess the correct word.

Streaks have been a trove for tech companies because they harness emotional and psychological hooks in the competition for user retention. An app from aims to use these same mechanisms in their newly upgraded Omer Counter app—but for a different purpose. Instead of employing these tactics to keep people tied to their application, they use the methods of streaks and gamification to help people fulfill a higher purpose

Tech Meets Biblical Commandment

The Omer is the biblical commandment to count seven weeks from the time that the Omer offering of barley was brought in the temple on the 16th of Nissan, the second night of Passover, until the holiday of Shavuot. Even though the temple no longer stands, the commandment to count the days between Passover and Shavuot still applies.

Each night, there is a short blessing and passage that is recited for the respective count. Because the obligation is to count all the days between Passover and Shavuot, it’s essential that no days are missed as that could disqualify one from the count.

Naturally, the main challenge with keeping the commandment of counting the Omer is making sure one remembers to count every single evening over the course of seven weeks. A decade ago, used technological creativity to revolutionize the way people fulfill the mitzvah of counting the omer with the Omer Counter app.

The app keeps track of the daily count, sending push notifications to users as a reminder to count the Omer. The app contains all the proper prayers for each given day so that just through clicking on the notification, a worshipper can recite the blessings and complete the daily count. After successfully completing one count, the app keeps track of your progress, building an increasing score each day.

The mitzvah of counting the Omer is not just about reciting a daily prayer, but connecting with the mystical intrinsic Kabbalistic meaning that corresponds to each day. The app allows one to explore these ideas with an accompanying daily commentary and meditation.

This year, has revamped the Omer app with a full-scale upgrade and redesign. New features include customizable reminders, manual location setting, and a host of personalization settings like adaptable text size and the option to toggle between light and dark mode. The app also includes a Hebrew reading trainer that allows those in the beginning stages of Hebrew reading to recite the blessings fluently.

One of the primary instructions of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, was to find opportunities to utilize worldly tools in service of G‑d. Technology is no different. By co-opting provenly effective mechanisms to maintain technological engagement in the service of fulfilling a thousands-of-year-old biblical commandment, the Omer Counter app demonstrates just the latest way that innovation to improve the observance of ancient, holy traditions is possible.