Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog
 Printer Friendly


The Torah commandment regarding the counting of the seven weeks between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot appears in a timely fashion in this week's Torah reading. Over the many millennia of Torah study and commentary numerus ideas have been advanced as to the import and meaning of this commandment. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the simple meaning and apparent lesson is that we are to appreciate all of our days, weeks, months and years.

Time remains the most precious of all gifts granted to human beings. Taking notice of its passage is certainly an effective way of making us aware of its importance. In Jewish tradition, this period of time marks the progress of the Jewish people, in our early history, from a nation of slaves to a chosen and holy nation.
There are many forms of slavery present today and neither the world nor the Jewish people are completely free from all of them. This seven week period is meant to indicate the necessity for emancipating ourselves from the bondage that the material world constantly inflicts upon us.
Counting our days is a method of elevating them so that we always see ourselves serving a higher purpose and not merely groveling in the dust of a purely materialistic way of life. It is interesting to note that the Torah demands from us complete, full and whole days and weeks. Making our days truly meaningful is not a halfhearted project. It has to have within it the element of complete perfection in order to make it a spiritual journey and not just a mechanical one.
Jewish law teaches us that if we omit counting even one day during this period of time, we have to a certain extent, forfeited the necessary observance of the commandment. Lost time and lost days can never be made up….another important lesson that this period of time teaches us.
By their very nature, human beings are procrastinators. We put off what could be accomplished today and assign its performance to a later date. We are told in Avot that: ‘one should never say that later in life when I have time, I will then study.’ The rabbis warn us that if we wait we might not have the time, the opportunity or even life.
The future is the most uncertain thing that life presents before us. That is why the count of this period of weeks is always the count of what was and is, and not the count of what is yet to be. There is much that we can learn from the past and much that we have to do to exploit the present, but the future remains beyond our reach.
The important lesson to be learned from this period of the year is that life often intervenes and mocks our hopes regarding the future.  So this period of time, when we count the days, is most instructive as to how our lives should be lived and our behavior determined.
Shabbat shalom
Rabbi Berel Wein

Subscribe to our blog via email or RSS to get more posts like this one.