From the second night of Passover until the holiday of Shavuot, the Jewish people enter a special time called Sefirat Haomer (the Counting of the Omer). Every evening after sundown, we recite a blessing and count the days leading up to the holiday which commemorates when God gave us the Torah. We count day one through 49, seven weeks in total, in anticipation of the anniversary that we received the Torah and accepted God’s holy commandments.
When counting, one recites the following blessing: “Baruch atah A-donai E-loheinu Melekh Ha-olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al S’firat Ha-omer.” Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.
When people are excited for something, they count the days until it happens. One may count the weeks of pregnancy, the days until vacation, or the days until they are reunited with a loved one. One of the reasons why we count the days leading up to Shavuot is to express our excitement to receive the Torah and reaffirm our faith and acceptance of the mitzvot.
Historically, these 49 days, or seven weeks, mark the Jewish peoples’ departure from Egypt and journey to Mt. Sinai where they received the Torah. During those seven weeks, the Jews, who had been slaves in Egypt, underwent a spiritual transformation. It is said that the Jewish people were at rock bottom spiritually. They used these seven weeks leading up to the first Shavuot in order to prepare themselves spiritually for the yolk of God’s commandments. So too, we prepare spiritually during these extremely special seven weeks.
Each day and each week is associated with one of seven character traits that are essential in Judaism. Therefore, each day of the counting is a different pairing of these seven attributes, and on that day we are meant to meditate on that day’s pair and their relationship with each other. The seven traits are as follows:
- Chessed – Loving kindness
- Gevurah – Justice and discipline
- Tiferet – Harmony, compassion
- Netzach – Endurance
- Hod – Humility
- Yesod – Bonding
- Malchut – Sovereignty, leadership
During the seven weeks from Passover to Shavuot, we are so lucky to be able to reconnect to our ancestors and feel the same excitement that they felt receiving the Torah. In addition, we are so fortunate to have this time to reconnect with God, and take a deep look at ourselves and try for self-improvement. We wish all of our readers a happy, healthy spring, and a successful journey to spiritual rejuvenation.