What would it be like to ritually count each passing day of our lives? As each new day begins, “today is the 13,562nd day of my life. And then, “today is the 13,563rd day of my life.” Such a ritual would surely make us acutely aware of the passage of time, of the progression toward, well, the end. But it might very well also considerably improve the way we live, as each day we’d feel compelled to ask, “Where am I today relative to where I was a day ago? Have I made a day’s worth of progress?” And in more general terms we’d invariably ask, “What have I accomplished so far over these thousands and thousands of days? Are these accomplishments sufficient in quality and quantity to justify all of these days that have been invested in me?” And looking forward we might well ask, “So today will be day 13,563. Where should I reasonably expect to find myself by, say, day 14,000? What should I have accomplished by then?
A ritual of literally counting each and every day of our lives could, in theory, make us very holy people, as it would ensure that we always feel acutely accountable for our time in the eyes of God and in the eyes the people who love and depend upon us.
On the other hand, it could also make us literally crazy.
So God does not ask us to count off each and every day. Instead, He asks us to take one particular stretch of 49 days each year, and to just count those. It’s a short enough period of counting so that we don’t become completely neurotic, but a long enough period of time so that we get the idea. So that all through the year we expect progress of ourselves as the days pile up. And so that we continuously aspire to truly justify the time with which we have been endowed and blessed. And so that we set goals.
Blessed are You God, Master of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His mitzvot, and who has commanded us to count the Omer.