The Scriptures command us to count the days between Pesach and Shavuos:
And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the day of rest, from the day of your bringing the offering which is waved, seven complete weeks there shall be. Until the morrow of the seventh week, you shall count fifty days. Leviticus 23:15-16
Rabbi Isaiah Hurowitz, a prestigious Torah scholar who lived approximately four hundred years ago, writes that the precept of counting the Omer is a meaningful and sacred matter. Before performing it, one should cleanse his heart by repenting of his sins, "so that his mitzvah will be holy and pure."
What is so sublime about the seemingly mundane act of counting off the days that remain until Shavuos? Why should this simple act imbue one's soul with spiritual light?
Let us review the events of the very first Counting of the Omer, immediately after the Exodus from Egypt. Already before he led the Jewish People out of Egypt, Moses knew that this was only the first step on a spiritual journey that would last seven full weeks. It was not enough to break the yoke of oppression which had weighed down for decades on the backs of the Hebrew slaves. Once his people had left Egypt, Moses did not pause for an instant. He set his eyes on the next stage, the journey toward Mount Sinai.
The nation's progress toward the receiving of the Torah was not without its ups and downs. There were times when the people were weaker, times when they were stronger. However, their direction remained constant; their goal, unchanged. They counted each day which brought them closer to the encounter at Sinai, when they would receive G-d's Law directly from their Creator and make them His chosen people.
The Counting of the Omer serves as a parallel of our lives. The road before us is fully paved. Our Sages compare this world to a corridor. Just as we move each year towards Sinai, we move throughout our lives: ever forward, along the path which leads us to the world to come. All along the way, we add another kind deed, another mitzvah. We count the days of our lives, as we draw ever closer to our goal, the World of Truth.
There is a purpose to the days that pass, a goal we seek to fulfill. We know that we are not wandering aimlessly along the paths and byways of life; we are moving toward our target, year after year. Our goals are well-defined.
In the desert, our ancestors moved closer and closer to the revelation of G-d's Presence on Mount Sinai. We, too, draw closer each day to the eventual meeting with the Eternal, after one hundred twenty years of life on this earth.
As we mark off each passing day of the Omer, we are reminded not only of the end-goal of the seven week periods, but of the seventy years of our lives.
Keeping this in mind will help us to focus on the true purpose of life. When the final day comes, we will be shown our lives in retrospect. If we learned the lesson of the Omer, we be gratified to see that each day was used constructively, to improve ourselves and come closer to achieving the full potential with which our Creator imbued us.