Counting the Omer
‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf [omer] of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD,” Lev 23:15-16.
“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give just as the Lord your God blesses you,” Deut 16:9-10.
The Torah tells us that we are to count 7 full weeks (7 weeks X 7 days = 49 days). If we count 49 days backwards from the night before Shavuot (Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, 6 Sivan), we will arrive at the 2nd day of Passover (First Fruits; 16 Nisan).
For each of the 49 days between the 2nd day of Passover and Shavuot an offering of barley was brought to the Temple and waved before the altar. These days are called Sefirat HaOmer (סְפִירַת הָעוֹמֶר), or the “counting the sheaves.” The grain offering was referred to as an omer; and when the omer was waved before the Altar, it was called the “waving of the omer,” Lev 23:15-21.
Traditionally, a blessing is recited and the count of the omer is stated each night during this period. For example, the blessing: “Baruch ata Adonai Elohaynu Melech ha-olam* asher kideshanu b’metzvotov v’tzvanu al ha-sefirat ha-omer” is said and, then, on the 1st day, one would say: ‘Today is 1st day of the Omer.’ But, on the 8th day, one would say: ‘This is the 8th day, which is 1 week and 1 day of the Omer.’ (*The English translation of the blessing is: “Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, King of the universe Who sanctifies us with His commandments and commands us to count the omer.”)
The counting is intended to remind us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu’ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. It reminds us that the redemption from slavery was not complete until we received the Torah.
“LORD, what an amazing God You Are! Thank You for constantly surrounding us with Your calendar – with Your festivals and festivities. We pray that with each Holy Day, we will become more focused on Your calendar. With anticipation, we look forward to Shavuot. Bless and heal each one of our loved ones who is struggling physically or emotionally. Bring Your peace to our precious land and to Israel. In the holy Name of our soon-coming Messiah, Yeshua.”