The Torah commands us to count the
from the second day of Pesach until Shavuot. The
is not the animal sacrifice being offered but a measure for the grain that is part of many of the sacrificial rituals. Why then is only this offering called the
and none of the others? What is the connection between this offering and counting the days leading up to Shavuot? Further, the
notes we count the days either
. Since the counting begins from the time of the offering on the second day of Pesach, shouldn't we be counting
, from the
? Why do we bring a barley offering on Pesach and a wheat offering on Shavuot?
Rabbi Sheinberg explains that we count from that which resembles the food of animals to that which represents the food of human beings to remind us that we are meant to move from a purely physical state of existence to a spiritual state just as our physical redemption from Egypt brought us closer to receiving the Torah and fulfilling our spiritual purpose. We count each day because the process proceeds one step at a time. The underpinnings of this process go back to the time of creation. Hashem created Adam in a perfect spiritual state which he lost when he ate of the forbidden fruit. Hashem cursed him that thorns and thistles would constitute his food. Adam cried profusely that he would them be on the same level as his
, his donkey, completely physical. Hashem then relented and allowed him to eat bread, albeit through the sweat of his brow. The state of mankind, however, was permanently damaged until Bnei Yisroel stood at Sinai and returned to that spiritual level only to lose it again with the sin of the golden calf. The
offering is the symbolic reminder of our leaving the physical mindset of Egypt and beginning the process of elevating our physicality toward that spiritual state. The process begins with the waving of the
offering to God. The Torah commands the
offering to be brought "on the morrow of the Shabbat," rather than "on the morrow of Pesach" to remind us of creation, of Adam's sin, and of his and our desire for a more spiritual life, culminating with the bread offering on Shavuot that can only be produced through a strenuous process of refinement.
We begin the counting when the barley is upright, ready for the sickle to harvest. Similarly, writes the
Me'ein Beis Hashoeva
, we should feel that we too are standing upright, ready to be cut from the physicality of the ground. Every day, with each count, as we physically stand when we recite the blessing, we separate further from the lower elements of our being and rise upward and that is why we count
, toward the
is in the agricultural season. As we view our barley crop, we give thanks to Hashem
for our bounty while we simultaneously ask Him to continue blessing us in the future. The Abudraham notes that the two ideas are actually complementary. To grow spiritually, one needs proper sustenance as
say, "If there is no flour, there can be no Torah. "
So why not begin counting on the first day of Pesach? The
notes that one doesn't intermix one celebration with another. On the first day of Pesach, we celebrate our physical redemption from Egypt. This leaves the following day to begin celebrating our imminent receiving of the Torah. Nevertheless, it seems strange that the blessing for this counting is tied to the
seems not to be the purpose of the counting. On the contrary, writes the
while indeed other
were accompanied by an
of meal, only this one, the day after Pesach, is singled out as a special
offering with its own ritual. In the desert Hashem provided each individual with one
, to fill his daily needs. Yet, Hashem requests only one
from the entire people. During the forty years in the desert, it was obvious Who was providing for all the needs of the people. However, once the people entered the land, they could easily forget Hashem's providence and attribute it to nature. By highlighting the importance of the
we affirm our continued faith in Hashem's providence. Indeed an
was kept in the
as a constant reminder of Hashem's
We count the first day of the
, one day, rather than the first day. There are two other times that the ordinal number "one" is used when the serial number "first" would seem more appropriate. In the story of creation it says, "And there was evening and morning one day." All the other days of creation are in serial form while the first day is in ordinal form. When describing the High Priest's Yom Kippur service, each sprinkling of blood is counted in the ordinal number, but each sprinkling begins with "one." "One and two," "One and three," etc. The
when one counts with ordinal numbers, one counts each one as an individual. Alternatively, when one counts in serial numbers, one is relating each individual as part of the larger group. Prior to creation there was nothing in the world except Hashem. Starting on the second day, however, there were already angels. Therefore the second day of creation cannot exclude day one which, although it stood on its own on that day, now has a second day to include in the process of creation and to reflect back to the Creator. Therefore, this day becomes a second day rather than day two, thereby connecting back to the origin. Similarly, the
who while individualizing each sprinkling is nevertheless still returning to the one, the beginning. When we count the
, we may be tempted to think that all the grain in the field is the result of our own hard work. By starting with "one" instead of "the first," we are linking the whole series to that ineffable One and acknowledging that all our bountiful harvests come from Hashem. That's why when one misses one day of counting, one can no longer count with a blessing, for he has broken the chain.
denotes a process and the process is in the
notes that that the word is used in the verb form when the Torah commands the behavior toward the
Lo titamer boh
- You shall not put her in servitude." During the period of counting the
we are putting ourselves completely in servitude to Hashem. Understandably this is not an easy achievement, so each day we take little steps and count another day of achievement in the process.
These days of
are among the most powerful days of the year. They are a time of building our connection to Hashem, a time to reflect on our dual nature and subdue our animalistic instincts so that we can rise ever higher towards receiving the Torah.