What is the Counting
of the Omer?
Forty-nine days divide Passover from Shavuot. But this seven-week period
is not an ordinary one. It is actually a link that binds these two festivals
together. Every one of these days is counted in orderly progression.
On every one of these forty-nine nights, a Jew recites a blessing (found
in the prayer book) and then verbalizes the number of that day. This
counting, called Sefirat HaOmer (the Counting
of the Omer), expresses a Jews eager anticipation of receiving
the Torah on Shavuot, forty nine days after experiencing the liberation
of Passover. This period is a time of personal refinement and introspection
in preparation for receiving the Torah
In Leviticus (23:15) the commandment of counting the Omer is stated:
You shall count .. from the day that you brought the omer as a
wave offering. The omer was a measure (around two quarts)
of barley which the Jews brought as an offering on the second day of
Passover. This was followed by the counting of the omer, which
led into the fiftieth day- the festival of Shavuot. Even after the destruction
of the Temple where the omer offering was brought, this tradition
of counting the omer continues.