The famous question that everybody asks is why do we count upward towards Shavuos. Shouldn’t we count down watching the days go by, as we get closer? These days are separating us from Har Sinai and we want them to go away so we can get to the magical moment already.
Rav Shimshon Pincus answers this with a vort from Rav Aharon Kotler. Rav Aharon asks how is it that when Yaakov waited seven years for Rochel the torah says that these days went by quickly in his eyes. Shouldn’t the normal human emotion make it feel like an eternity as he waited for the day that he and his beloved will finally join as husband and wife? Rav Aharon answers that Yaakov was preparing himself for the building of Am Yisroel.
Rav Shimshon elaborates on these short and mysterious words with a Mashal. If someone were to tell a desperate person that he will receive one million dollars but it would only come in one hundred days, he would be elated but totally impatient during this waiting period. If however the deal was that he would get thousand a day for 100 days until he accumulates million, then each day we be fun and exhilarating as he adds up his earnings and closes in on his final goal. What is the difference? In the first case the days are empty of any meaning or progress. They are simply dead space in his way and they are separating him from his good fortune. In the second scenario, he is growing day by day as he closes in on his dream. Each precious day builds him more and more.
Maybe another way to explain it would be a Chosson and Kallah. After the engagement they are very excited to get married. This is a very special time. As long as they are preparing for the wedding they are enjoying each day. Choosing halls, flowers, clothing, apartments, etc. Two months go by very quickly and life is just grand with no complaints. Then the preparations are all done and there is still a week to the wedding. The Chosson and Kallah haven’t got much to do except wait. Boy does the time go by slowly. When oh when will the big day finally come? This week lasts and eternity.
So too says Rav Shimshon, are the days of Sefiras HaOmer. These are the days from when we finally gained our freedom, which we use to build ourselves into people who are ready to accept the Torah. This takes hard work as we work on our middos first and foremost. The Torah is not sitting and waiting to magically transform us without any effort on our part. Each day we grow. Each day we make ourselves more worthy. Each day is a wonderful day where we go to sleep feeling accomplished and more complete than we were the day before. These are great days that we don’t want to put behind ourselves. We want to hold them and cherish them. We count them one, two, three… We grow in Chesed, Gvura, Tiferes… each precious day until we hit the big 50 and we are truly ready to receive the torah.
Counting the Omer means growing with it and enjoying it. If you sit around and do nothing, then not only will it feel like forever, but you will stand under the chupah totally embarrassed that you don’t even have wedding attire!