Much has been written about the nature of the mitzvah of counting the Omer. It is one of the few mitzvot that take place over an extended period of time. Whenever there are a number of minutes, hours days, or weeks, between the start of a mitzvah and its conclusion there are problems that arise in the Halakha. What happens with only partial fulfillment?
In a more general sense it seems that Jewish Law has a hard time with causation in general. What happens if a press a button that causes a light to turn on in 5 or 10 seconds? Gramais a problem in Shabbas and in Nezikin. What is my responsibility for the results of an action that are not experienced for several minutes, hours or days? What is my responsibility for the carrying out of a mitzvah over the course of seven weeks?
This question leads to the following common misconception – if I "lost" the berakhah I should just stop counting. This is only the approach of the Behag, and many (maybe even most) disagree. However, no one says that losing the berakhah means that you should no longer count. The berakhak is not the essential part of the actions, the counting is.
Once we have understood that the mitzvah is one of counting days / weeks one has to ask why? What is the significance of such a counting? What are we supposed to accomplish over the course of these seven weeks?
I am going to begin to answer these questions over the course of the next few posts – stay tuned!