Anticipation. Eagerness. Expectation. Are these words we associate with the counting of the Omer?
Now, I don’t mean anticipation of cheesecake, blintzes, and kugel at Shavuot, although those are tasty. Maimonides said we should count the Omer “as one who expects his most intimate friend on a certain day counts the days and even the hours.” [Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim 3:43] He further states that the revelation at Mt. Sinai was the aim and object of the Exodus from Egypt.
G-d states, “I will take you to Myself as a people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Adonai your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Exodus 6:7 TLV
G-d’s purpose in the Exodus is His reputation and our relationship. The Torah facilitates our relationship to HaShem. It reveals His nature and continually reminds us of what He has done for us.
Leviticus 23:15 and Deuteronomy 16:9 command us to count the days and weeks to Shavuot. G-d doesn’t just tell us which day of the third month. He commands us to count for ourselves. There is purpose in the counting itself, not just in the offerings and prayers for Bikkurim and Shavuot.
At Pesach, as we rid our houses of chametz, as we seek to rid ourselves of the spiritual chametz of pride. The process of counting the Omer continually reminds us of our place before HaShem. We are reminded that we are dependent on Him for every “harvest” in our lives. Every good gift comes from Him. We are reminded that our wisdom comes from HaShem, just as our freedom was the work of His hands, not ours.
In Psalm 90, David contrasts the temporary nature of man with the eternal sovereignty of Adonai. In verse 12, he asks G-d, “So teach us to number our days, so that we may get a heart of wisdom.” When we ask, He reveals the brevity of our lives in light of timelessness. We then recognize that our lives, as long as they may seem to us, are barely a blip on the radar of eternity.
In Psalm 62, David echoes this sentiment, describing all of mankind as less than a breath. He commands his soul to wait for G-d alone, who is our expectation, our salvation, our protection. This view of ourselves and our G-d keeps us from being pretentious. Weakness in ourselves is to be expected. When we sin, when we do or say the wrong thing, we know that G-d alone can save. He alone can rescue us from this world. He saves us from ourselves. We look to G-d; His hand not too short to save.
In John 14, Yeshua promises his disciples a Helper, the Spirit of Truth. After His resurrection, he appeared to them for 40 days, most of the counting of the Omer, then told them to wait in Jerusalem. Talk about anticipation! They were waiting for the Spirit of G-d, who would teach them, convict sin, remind them of all the things Yeshua had said, and guide them into all truth.
When the day of Shavuot had come, they were all together in one place… They were all filled with the Ruach ha-Kodesh. Acts 2:1, 4a
Once again, G-d’s purpose was His reputation and our relationship. Many people gathered in Jerusalem for the feast witnessed the power of G-d in fire, just as the people at Mt. Carmel had witnessed when Elijah called upon the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. G-d turned their hearts back to Himself. G-d was glorified, and thousands of souls were restored to relationship with Him.
As we count the Omer today, we eagerly wait in hope for what G-d is doing. We rejoice in what He has done for us, and we are filled with joy. We look forward to the anniversary of the giving of the Torah and the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and shalom in trusting, so you may overflow with hope in the power of the Ruach ha-Kodesh. Romans 15:13