Judaism is a religion of counting.
Today is the eighth day of Pesach and we are counting the Omer.
But how can we relate, in our very secular times, to counting the Omer?
Many explanations have been given as to why we each have the obligation to count the Omer. One is that the count is like spiritual steps that lead us out of the degradation of slavery to the elevation of wholehearted acceptance of the Torah.
Each day we have the opportunity to reach a little higher.
Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits, in an inspiring sermon on Counting the Omer, suggested, over 60 years ago, that our modern civilisation is also based on counting –all our science, economics, finance, technology, all our institutions – are based on counting. But amongst all this counting we must count ourselves. Do we work all day to amass new sums, only to go home and count the sums and numbers we made? Rather, we should remind ourselves: This was one whole day of my life – was there any sense to it? How am I going to use the fruits of my toil to achieve a life lived to some reasonable end and satisfactory purpose?
Counting has many purposes and applications. In Judaism, the words for counting and telling have the same root – saper.
Count, recount, account, tell, retell – even in English, by a roundabout route, we have the word ‘teller’ for one who counts money in the bank! Counting is more than the mere act of doing sums – it is the way we account for ourselves as Jews, it is the way we measure our spiritual achievements, not our material gains.
That is how we should count - that the days of our life should be complete – not rich, mighty or powerful, but complete; that each of us counts for something.