Making Our Days Count
Chazal teach that the period of Sefiras Ha’Omer is meant to be one of introspection and growth.
I once heard an insightful question regarding our counting of the Omer from Rabbi Zev Leff. Rabbi Leff noted that there seems to be a contradiction in the way we count. We count the days at the beginning of each day and the weeks at the end of each week. To be consistent we should either do both at the beginning or both at the end.
Rabbi Leff answered that the way we count teaches us a lesson of how to best use the Sefira. Often when we embark on a journey of teshuva or spiritual growth, we take too big a jump. Educators in the kiruv yeshivos discourage rapid movement as it is difficult to maintain. It is far better to make small, concrete strides.
When Dayan Ahron Dovid Dunner shlita met Rav Shach ztl during the Gulf war in 1991, he asked the Godol Hador what message he should convey to Klal Yisroel. Rav Shach told him that we should do teshuva, but to only take small steps. And in a moment of personal disclosure, he added “Do you know what I took on last Rosh Hashona?” “To bentsch with a bentscher. And only when I am at home and only until Pesach.” If it is true for the Godol Hador, it is certainly true for all of us.
Our counting each day reflects this. We count at the beginning of each day to show that each day is a separate small unit. We want to improve but recognise that the best way to do so is in small strides.
However, in order not to become despondent by the seemingly small successes, it is important to sometimes take stock of our achievements. We therefore look back at the end of each week and assess our progress. That is why we count at the end of each week. Slowly-slowly, the small successes add up to something quite substantial.
Take Daf Yomi. Each day another page. But not before too long, many perokim and masechtos are covered. A person can then take encouragement from his accomplishments and this gives him the incentive to continue onward and upward.
The way we count, therefore, guides us as to how we should utilise the precious days of the Sefira. Counting at the beginning of each day reminds us to make small goals and counting at the end of each week encourages us to take stock and, hopefully, look back with pride at our achievements.
The summer term is a time for just this, particularly this year. We can stock and pride in the accomplishments of the tumultuous two previous terms but plan to move forward with concrete, realistic and at the same time ambitious goals for the period ahead.
Rabbi J Golker
Every year, Hasmonean students enter Israel’s Chidon HaTanach competition, which requires an encyclopaedic knowledge and love of Tanach. This year was not like all other years. Last year, Batsheva Schwab reached the final. This year, all three UK candidates: Sara Solomon, Leah K and Orly Maierovits made it to the last 16. Rabbi Eliyahu Silverman taught them and nurtured their skills. He encouraged them to persevere and invest in their Tanach studies. This achievement is all the more remarkable when the only country outside Israel that has ever sent three candidates has been the US. Hasmonean’s candidates will be showing their skills on Yom Ha’Atzmaut where the quiz will be taking place live in Israel via Zoom.
The Chidon will be live on channel “Kan 11”, at 11 am Israel time (9 am UK time) on Yom HaAtzmaut, April 15. You can watch it here – https://www.kan.org.il/live/tv.aspx?stationid=2