"On the Morrow of Shabbat"

In this week’s Parsha we learn of the mitzvah to count the omer. The Torah tells us that the count begins "on the morrow of Shabbat" and continues for seven weeks. Tradition teaches that the word "Shabbat" here is to be understood as the holiday of Passover. Why does the Torah not simply say on the morrow of Passover?

Transcending Shabbat

The Sages explain that at their time of redemption our ancestors were in a state of spiritual and moral corruption, undeserving of G‑d's mandate and incapable of its execution. They were given this seven-week period to develop spiritually and to become deserving of the Torah that G‑d would eventually bestow upon them.

G‑d created the world in six days and then granted us a sacred day called Shabbat. Shabbat is the high-point of creation yet an integral part of its cycle. Our ancestors were asked to transcend this cycle of creation and to develop an association with the Creator in order to receive His mandate and become His nation. To do that it was necessary to transcend even Shabbat, the highest and most sacred point of creation. This is indicated by the Torah's use of the words "the morrow of Shabbat."

The Point of the Count

The omer represents the human struggle to become holy. Shabbat is a day granted from above to help us with that struggle. It is G‑d's desire that we accept His assistance on Shabbat but ultimately learn, during the rest of the week, to stand on our own feet. In this verse the Torah assures us that this is possible. G‑d instructs us, and thereby gives us the strength, to count the omer on "the morrow of Shabbat."