Today are sixteen days, which are two weeks and two days of the Omer
Counting of the Omer for Iyar 1
We are accustomed to thinking of time as a fixed yardstick against which our lives are measured. We “pass through” time (or time passes us by) at an unalterable pace. Time deeply affects everything about us and everything we do, but we have no effect upon it.
Physical science has since refuted this cursory perception of time, demonstrating how time, like any other physical phenomenon, is in fact quite malleable. It can be concentrated, stretched, speeded up, slowed down, or stopped altogether. This, of course, is achieved mostly on paper or by computer simulation. In practice, time’s dictatorial rule of our lives seems absolute. The irrevocability of the past, the uncompromising temporality of the present, the impregnable fog of the future—man still seems very much a creature subject to time, rather than the other way around.
Two questions come to mind concerning the manner of the count. If we are counting the days to Sinai, why don’t we state how many remain until Shavuot, instead of the number that have passed since Passover? Also, “Today are two days” seems awkward if not inaccurate; would it not be more correct to say, “Today is the second day,” “Today is the third day,” and so on?
But we do not merely pass through the days between Passover and Shavuot—we accumulate them. Each of these forty-nine days embodies another spiritual achievement—the refinement of another aspect of our personality and character. Each of these days becomes a component of our reborn selves, as we internalize the freedom obtained at the Exodus as the essence of our commitment to G-d as His chosen people. On the second day of the count, we possess two days of the Omer process; by its final day, we shall have amassed forty-nine units of time, and the specific qualities they embody, with which to approach this year’s experience of Sinai.
Based on numerous talks and writings by the Rebbe, including a letter dated Nissan 28, 5724 (April 10, 1964)
Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber