Today is the twenty third day of the Omer, which makes three weeks and two days of Omer. In this season we find ourselves in the midst of the command to count the Omer. The Omer was the sheave of the first barley that was harvested each spring and it was to be brought as an offering in the ancient Temple. But we are also told that we are to count fifty days from the time of the bringing of the Omer until Shavuot. That is it, just count each day leading up to Shavuot when the rest of the first fruits would be brought and we could begin baking bread made from the spring barley harvest.
No reason is given for the counting but it is clear to me that by requiring this counting it forces us to come to terms with the sanctity and importance of how we spend our time. In a world where we are inundated with a plethora of commitments, some vital, some mundane, it is good to take a step back and focus on what is truly important. Focusing on this commandment to count the Omer, even if it is only for fifty days out of the year, helps us snap back into reality about the essential things in our lives.
There is a beautiful piece I often share to show the importance of time. I am not sure who wrote it, but it helps put time into perspective:
To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.
Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel has been Midbar Kodesh Temple's spiritual leader since August 2008. Rabbi Tecktiel was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in May of 1996. He holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees, one from List College and one from Columbia University. He also holds a Masters of Arts from the Jewish Theological Seminary.
You can follow him on Twitter @RabbiMKT