The commandment of the Counting of the Omer (Lev. 23:15-16) is named after the omer, a unit of measurement for grain (a capacity of 5.2 American pints or 2.5 liters). It is this period of intense self-reflection. Why is it called after the Omer, and what is its connection to this Biblical measurement?

Pesach was a time of an incredible "Itaruta d'leila", an undeserved outpouring of kindness and beneficence from G‑d. The Jews had descended to the 49th level of impurity and had almost no merits with which to beseech G‑d for salvation. Nevertheless, G‑d initiated a great deliverance for the Jewish People. Chesed left unchecked can overflow its boundaries becoming wild…even obscene…

The period of the Omer (which begins the day after the first Seder) began with this tremendous flow of chesed and divine favor. Yet, chesed left unchecked can overflow its boundaries becoming wild, unforgiving and even obscene. To be of benefit, chesed must be guided and directed. Chesed must always be tempered with gevura.

A measurement limits, defines and restrains. The Omer, a defined measurement, is an expression of gevura and represents constraint of the flow of chesed, rendering it accessible. One's divine service must be a balance of love and fear (great awe) of G‑d. This love and fear of G‑d are referred to by the sages as "trey gadfin", in Aramaic "two wings", with which one can elevate oneself to higher and higher levels of divine service. One cannot fly with only one wing. Therefore this period of self reflection and spiritual growth is called after the Omer. It represents gevura, or fear, of G‑d and balances out the great chesed of Pesach. It furnishes us the second wing with which to take flight and soar to new heights of knowledge of G‑d and divine service.

[Based on Chiddushei HaRim Al HaTorah, pp.160-61; First published in B'Ohel Hatzadikim, Tazria 5759]