It might not be well known, but we're right in the middle of a nearly two month long Jewish holiday.

This holiday, known as Sefirat Ha'Omer, or the Count of the Omer, comprises the fifty days between Passover and Shavuot (the day we got the Torah on Mt. Sinai). These fifty days are, to this day, used as a spiritual preparation for the anniversary of the giving of the Torah.

Every week  during the count we focus on another human character trait, one of seven enumerated in the Kaballah. We try to refine and prepare that part of our soul for reconnecting to the Torah and our heritage.

I'd like to discuss the character trait that we focused on this week, the trait of 'Netzach', or victory. The meaning of victory as a positive human trait is overcoming our inner impulses to do what isn't right, defeat those urges, and be the best person we can be.

The problem is that this trait seems to fly against so much we hold dear. We all believe in freedom, the right to be ourselves and to live as we wish, without being forced, coerced or pressured by anyone to conform to what someone else thinks we should do. Doesn't freedom directly contradict this value of victory, which consists of overcoming our desires? It seemingly can either be one, or the other.

The answer to this problem lies in how we view rules, discipline and direction, specifically those given to us by the Torah. If we view them as rules simply for the sake of constricting our freedom, then indeed they just cumbersome restrictions. But if we view them as guidance from the creator of the universe as to how to best use his world and creations - ourselves included - then the Torah's guidelines transform into paths to success, much as we follow a computer manufacturer's instructions to get the best results from the product.

The Count of the Omer, much like all else in Judaism, is a journey. It's a profound, rewarding process reminding us not to get lost in life, and making sure we truly discover our potential. It enables us to be victorious, and - far from stifling our freedom - makes sure we don't get in our own way, or underestimate ourselves.

Microsoft and Apple products come with their user's manual. The Torah is ours.

Rabbi Avrohom