has two aspects -- the actual performance of the mitzvah
, and its spiritual content. Today, when we do not have the Beis HaMikdash
, many of the mitzvos
can be fulfilled only
in a spiritual sense. However, even those mitzvos
which can be fulfilled practically still have an important spiritual dimension which should be examined. Let us take, as an example, the mitzvah
of Sefiras HaOmer
-- counting the Omer.
What is the idea of Sefiras HaOmer
in a spiritual sense, and specifically in chassidic terms?
Each day of Sefiras HaOmer you make a blessing and then count the day: "Today is three days of the Omer," "Today is five days of the Omer," etc. As everyone knows, in Yiddishkeit we don't take saying HaShem's Name lightly; that's serious business. So every single day, you make a blessing with G-d's Name, and then you count the day. What is the big accomplishment? When you count time it doesn't change anything. You can count the seconds from today until tomorrow, but it will not make an hour longer than 60 minutes, nor a day longer than 24 hours. Furthermore, it would be another day even had you not made a blessing nor counted it.
Those of us who come from the United States, or other westernized countries, where leisure is an important commodity, know that people have plenty of time. They are always relaxing and just letting the time pass. Even worse, I'm sure everyone has heard of "killing time" -- helping the time to pass because you have nothing worthwhile to do. That concept is as foreign to Yiddishkeit and to Torah as treif meat. Torah adheres to the concept that HaShem has given every Jew a predetermined number of minutes, days and hours in which to live. You get the exact amount of time you need to complete your mission. There is not one day extra. The Zohar states, "Each and every day does its work." What does this mean? That each day, which is a gift from HaShem, must show some accomplishment. Furthermore, this is true not only for each day, but for each hour. Each day and each hour has a multitude of opportunities for the sanctification of G-d's Name.
The intention of Sefirah -- of counting the days, and making a blessing before counting them -- is to make us aware of what we do with our time, and how precious time is. Before counting we should think for one minute, "What are we about to count?" What did I do during the last 24 hours that's important, that was worth living for?
Regarding Avraham Avinu, a verse states, "Avraham was old, coming on in days." What does this mean? Chassidus explains that it means that each and every one of Avraham Avinu's days was accounted for. He was able to point out for each day he lived what he accomplished on that day. It's as if he had his days in his pocket. On that day, 37 years ago, a Tuesday, I did x, y, z. On this day, 94 years ago, on Wednesday, I did this and that. Every day was special, every day was full, and every day was something to remember. Furthermore, as he grew older, each and every day showed progress and development, building on top of the previous day's accomplishments. This is the message of Sefiras HaOmer according to Chassidus. Believe me, it is something you can count on.