Yesterday, I listened into my son's zoom Shiur.

Joe was studying at Reishit Yeshiva in Israel, Beit Shemesh, until the virus pushed study remote, so home with us. This Shiur was from Rav Benovitz on the subject of Counting of the Omer.

Why do we count? More recent history (Yom Hashoah tonight and the history of Rabbi Akiva's followers) add to the confusion of this period, but the requirement to count is itself perplexing. On a simple level we count the days from the Exodus to receiving of the Torah on Shavuot; the excitement of Matan Torah. Yet there is puzzlement on how we count - we first count the number of days of the Omer and then we give the number of weeks and days. For example on the 11th day of the Omer we would say - today is the eleventh day of the Omer which is one week and four days of the Omer. It is not difficult to count 7, so this seems to be a bizarre addition. The way that we can answer these questions is by looking at other places the word Omer is used in the Torah - of the 39 acts prohibited on Shabbas one is gathering, the Hebrew MeAmer, which literally means 'from Omer'. When we count 14 days, these are not just 14 isolated days, we connect them together as 2 weeks. When an individual carries out a good deed, they have to reflect to themselves; 'is this deed an isolated deed or is it part of who I am'. Are we constantly building on our good deeds or are we leaving them to be 'ungathered? This should be our focus during the counting period, and perhaps even more so as we chart meaning in coping with Covid.