שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת, תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה (ויקרא כג:טו)
Seven weeks shall there be complete (Vayikra 23:15)
When we count sefira, the Torah demands an aspect of perfection, which it hints to by the use of the word “temima.” On a simple level we learn from this the halacha that according to many poskim, if a person misses counting even one day, his counting is blemished to the point that a brocho can no longer be said. We also understand this time of sefirah is to be used for self-perfection, which includes perfecting our middos tovos in our interactions with other Jews. We also aspire to have a “perfect” record going from one level to another until we reach the appropriate level for receiving the Torah on Shavuos.
When a craftsman mentors a student, many times it is necessary for him to show his apprentice the final product in advance, in order to give him an idea of the goal that he is trying to achieve. When an apprentice – who has never crafted such a product before – works step-by-step without having in mind a clear picture of what he is trying to achieve, his steps become less certain and his chances of error are much greater.
There is a medrash on this pasuk: When are they temimos? When a person does the Will of G-d. The Belzer Rebbe explains the words of this medrash as follows: When Hashem took us out of Egypt, he lifted us to a level of spirituality that was total and complete. Each individual was lifted to his fullest potential. When one fulfills his potential, this is a full realization of ratzon Hashem. When we sit at the Seder table – usually consisting of many people with different approaches to life sitting together in unison, we grow together in our emuna, while cherishing and respecting each other. Through this we grow to achieve our ultimate potential. Upon being given that gift of direction, each Jew is obligated to try to return there (leil haseder) through his own achievements. Hence the meaning of the words of the medrash: “When are we perfect? When we do to ourselves the Will of Hashem” We were given a “flashcard” with a picture (leil haseder) of what we can achieve in our closeness to Hashem. Now during these days of sefira, we have to do it by ourselves. You might ask yourself “How can I really achieve all that?” To answer this question, Hashem has already given us this vantage point on the night of yetzias mitzrayim.
When there is a race, everyone leaves the starting block at the same time. However, the racers do not all finish at the same time. This is not the case with Klal Yisrael, who have that ability to race time, starting with Pesach together, counting the days towards Shavuos separately, and then to come to Har Sinai, k’ish Echad ublev Echad. Together, each one with their own private perfection, and all of us together in a group effort, can be winners.