Who Counts?

Keep telling your story.

Rabbi S. Weiss,

Judaism לבן ריק
לבן ריק
Arutz 7

The countdown continues. We are fast approaching Shavuot and the end of our counting. Or, I should say, the almost-end of our counting.

You see, the Torah tells us explicitly: "You shall count fifty days." But do we actually count 50? No! We stop counting at 49. Why do we violate the Biblical mandate to go all the way to 50?

Another question about the counting. Each night, the cantor or the rabbi recites the bracha of Sefirat HaOmer and we all answer "amen." He then counts the day and then we all make our own individual bracha and count for
Each human being is unique, each of us is a "book" unto ourselves.
ourselves. This is strange. Usually (e.g., kiddush on Shabbat morning), the leader says the bracha on behalf of the assembled and our answering "amen" to his bracha is sufficient to fulfill our obligation.

Why do we change the procedure for Sefirat HaOmer and make our own, separate blessing?

To answer both the questions, let's ask another question. The root of the word lispor - "to count" - is samech-pey-raysh. This is the same root as in the words sefer ("book"), sipur ("story") and tisporet ("haircut"). What is the connection?

I suggest that the link between these four seemingly disparate words is as follows: each human being is unique, each of us is a "book" unto ourselves, with a special story to tell. Though humanity may be as numerous as the hairs on our head (yes, some have more than others), HaShem created each of us individually, and no two people are exactly alike. Each of us has a certain mission to perform, a role to play in the grand scheme of things.

So, while the leader says his own bracha and counts, we also count on our own; for our blessing is no less vital or important than anyone else's.

And our obligation to utilize each day to the fullest - to make every single day count - never ends. That is why we never quite reach the end of the Sefira count, the elusive 50th day. There is always another day ahead, always another plateau, always another goal to reach.

There comes a time when a human being stops getting taller, a time when our fingers and toes stop growing. But our hair never stops growing. And that is the other connection to Sefira and hair: as long as we have life, there is more room for growth.

So keep telling your story, keep adding chapters to the book of your life, no matter how old you are. Remember, you may be grown up, but you're never grown out.