We are all familiar with the idea that sefiras ha’omer is a time of preparation for Shavuos. The early commentators tell us that this is what is meant by the idea “mi’macharas hashabas”, which means we start counting from after Pesach until Shavuos. There are those who have a custom that someone who misses a day of counting is not eligible to get a piece of cheesecake on Shavuos. Though we understand that that is just the “carrot” dangling in front of the person to guarantee that he counts, I am sure that in certain situations it actually may help. Yet the counting until Shavuos is not the only preparation that is necessary. The main preparation that needs to be done is to set up the proper frame of mind for accepting the Torah.
If anyone has ever been in a chasidishe shul for sefiras ha’omer they may have observed something that needs explanation. The fervor that is spent on counting seems disproportionate. I think the reason for this intensity is that the point of counting is to prepare oneself, and if you just say it without feeling, that is not considered preparation at all.
Reb Moshe Schwab, the mashgiach of Gateshead, points out that the idea of temimos has to do with a person being well-balanced. He discusses the idea of the mouth and heart being in sync. As we come to the last week of sefiras ha’omer, the preparation intensifies. As of Rosh Chodesh, we were and are already at the foot of the mountain waiting to accept the Torah. When klal Yisrael said “na’ase v’nishma” they were given two crowns. These crowns not only represented Hashem’s appreciation for their utterance but also for their exuberance in receiving the Torah. Indeed, they were of one heart and mouth.
Many times, a parent will tell a child “ask your brother or sister for mechila.” Dutifully, the child will ask for forgiveness, but by the tone of his voice, it is clear, that this is just a perfunctory act and there is no heart behind the words coming from the mouth. This is an example of “non-temimos”.
Some people may actually be excited when Yom Tov is coming because it is a change of pace and it is also a special time of year, packed with special foods and delicacies. Again, the cheesecake is not the point. This year some of us may be lacking the normal preparations that we have had in the past, as our lives have been altered. But what we do have this year more than in the past is our ability to think about how the Torah makes our lives different compared to all of those around us. The Rabbis tell us that the amount of preparation that we put in to prepare for Shavuos will be equal to the measure of how much Torah we will receive. This year in particular, when life has sort of come to a stop, let us take stock and then try to prepare. The word in Lashon Hakodesh for preparation is “הכנה”. The root of the word is “כן”, which means “base” (see Shemos 30:18 regarding the kiyor). How much we prepare will dictate how strong a base we will have on Shavuos.
Let us think about how special we are to be the children of Hashem. When we count the omer, we should really be excited about the upcoming kabbalas Hatorah. The “na’ase v’nishma” which we read on Shavuos should “leebo v’piv shavin” (we should feel inside as festive as we look on the outside). My brocho to all is that we should merit a plentiful Torah with the simcha that makes Shavuos the Yom Tov that the gemora tells us “everyone should physically enjoy.”