One day or one lifetime

May 6, 2016 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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There is an interesting halachic discussion regarding the Mitzvah of Sefirat Haomer – the forty nine days that we count between the festival of Pesach and Shavuot.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

The authorities debate whether counting the Omer is considered one long mitzvah, or forty nine independent obligations.

One opinion maintains that the Omer is one single holistic mitzvah leading up to the concluding festival of Shavuot. You cannot count one day without the other. If you skip one day you undermine the others. It is one process that lasts for forty nine days.

The second opinion argues that we view these seven weeks as forty nine independent components. Each day is its own Mitzvah. What I do today does not affect the other days. If I forget one day I can still count the other.

The Halachic ramifications and conclusion on this matter is complex and deserves its own discussion. But there is an important lesson we can learn from this debate, where both opinions are equally important and relevant.

The first approach teaches us that the journey of life must be viewed holistically, guided by general moral goals and values. We cannot just live for the moment. Our experience on this planet is only meaningful when our ultimate goals and deeper values drive and motivate the experiences of each day. What we do today must be driven by a long term purpose.

But on the other hand, each day must be treated independently. Each day is a fresh start, presenting unique opportunities and new experiences. Although we are driven by our long term goals, success depends on the ability to be totally focused on the opportunities that the present moment gives us. If I failed yesterday I can still succeed today. If I fell behind last month I can make it up now. If I anticipate new challenges next month I am not distracted by them now. What I can accomplish today does not depend on yesterday or tomorrow.

While we keep working towards our ultimate goals, we can still treasure each day as a unique precious gift.

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