Following the Holiday of Pesach is the Omer. We count 49 days to Shavuot. There are many reasons for this. One is that when a person is looking forward to something he counts down the days to when it is gonna happen. Similarly we count down the days to the anticipated day of receiving the Torah. However, a deeper reason is given by the sages. The word pesach means to leap over. The simple interpretation of this is that on Pesach Hashem skipped over our houses and spared us of the killing of the firstborn. The deeper explanation is that on Pesach one can leap over the levels of spirituality. There are 49 levels of spirituality and on Pesach night one can reach the highest. Why? Because as we mentioned before it is a time of the stage of inspiration. However, the days that follow Pesach are the stages of self-effort where we have to earn through our efforts the levels that we leaped over on Pesach. Hence there are 49 days that are counted corresponding to the 49 levels. One should use these 49 days o further refine the characteristics he found the flaws (chametz) with on Pesach. Incidently the Torah tells us to count 50 days but we count only 49 because by not counting the 50th we are giving meaning to it. The 50th level can not be reached in this world. In fact the Hebrew word for measure (mida) adds up to 49. The word misrayim can be read metzar yam which means constricting of the 50th. Egypt was the place that didn’t allow the Jewish people to reach the 50th level. After we left we leaped over the 49 stages and during the omer we had to earn it. On these days we should try and refine the character traits that were represented by chametz on Pesach.
Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Meaning Sefirat Ha'omer