Two old friends met up for lunch one day. They were both extremely successful, with long, productive careers. Yosef was happy, always smiling from head to toe, and gave off an aura of energetic positivity. While Daniel was just as successful on the outside, his life was falling apart. His relationships had gone sour, and his health was failing. He was bitter and unhappy.

In our previous article, we began exploring the depth of S’firas HaOmer. Based on the Maharal and Ramban, we explained that we are not counting down to Matan Torah, but rather we are building up towards it, ascending one day at a time. We do not wait for Shavuos to arrive; we actively bring it ourselves through the time and effort we invest as we count the Omer. After developing a general understanding of S’firas HaOmer, let us focus on a few specifics of the count itself. The 49 days of S’firas HaOmer parallels the 49-day process that the Jewish People went through upon leaving Egypt, before receiving the Torah. What is the meaning behind this process, and why is it specifically 49 days long?

We experience life through the medium of time. Each new moment brings with it new opportunities as we ascend through this journey of time. Amidst these constantly moving waves of time, the chagim are specific and set points that carry with them unique energy. Each holiday presents us with the chance to tap into and experience the theme inherent to that point in time. Before we delve into the specific theme and uniqueness of Shavuos, we must first understand time in general.

Imagine a teenager lying on a grassy field, gazing into the night sky. As he stares up at the stars, he thinks to himself, “Look at how enormous the universe is. The sky just expands endlessly... It must go on forever.” After sitting with that thought for a few moments, he becomes uncomfortable. “How can anything go on forever? Everything must stop eventually.” But after a few moments of relaxation, his thoughts intrude again. “But how can the universe stop? What exists on the other side when the universe ends? It must go on forever...” And this inner dialogue continues as he struggles to contemplate the infinite within his finite mind. This struggle is not a childish one; it is a challenge that confronts any finite being who tries to connect to the infinite.

Imagine you are on a train, traveling toward your destination. You look to your right and see a fellow passenger. Attempting to be friendly, you ask him where he’s heading. He shrugs his shoulders and says, “I don’t know.” Confused, you ask again. He repeats, “I’m just riding the train. I don’t know where I’m going.” At this point, you begin to wonder if this guy is out of his mind. Who goes on a train without a destination in mind?

In our previous article, we began exploring the deeper nature of the sin of the M’raglim (Spies). To review, we explained that the sin of the M’raglim lay in the way they perceived Eretz Yisrael. The M’raglim’s physical sight was intact; what they lacked was spiritual sight. They physically saw giants burying their dead, but they interpreted this to mean that the “land consumes its inhabitants” (BaMidbar 13:32). In reality, as the Gemara explains, this was a miracle that Hashem performed to aid the M’raglim in their mission. Hashem killed off the leaders of the giants in each city so that the dwellers would be distracted with their funerals, ensuring that the M’raglim could travel through Eretz Yisrael undetected (Sotah 35a). The death of the giants was the external reality; the sin of the M’raglim lay in projecting faulty meaning onto it.