First Published on April 24, 2006
Sefirah is viewed by the Sefer HaChinuch and many other Rishonim as a long Chol Hamoed between Pesach and Shavuous to get ourselves ready as a people and individually for the Kabalas HaTorah that occurs each year on Shavuous. It is interesting that the aveilus associated with the death of the talmidim coincides with this period. Obviously, we can only experience growth in Torah via Tikun HaMidos. R A Z Weiss in his Hakdamah to Minchas Asher on Shabbos makes this point.
I haven’t seen this observation elsewhere, so here is a possibly novel idea- Perhaps, the episode of the death of R’ Akiva’s talmidim as described in the Talmud (Yevamos 62b) is designed to teach us that quality matters over quantity, inasmuch as R Akiva’s original 24,000 talmidim were decimated to the point whereby only four of his talmidim were left to spread Torah.