“Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has made us holy with your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer**. Today is 12 days, which is one week and five days of the Omer.”
Those of you who attended Friday night services this past week may recognize the above blessing and statement; as in some years past, we have been counting the Omer as a community this year. Those who follow me on Instagram or Facebook will also recognize the word “Omer” from the hashtag I have been using to help count the Omer this year: #omerchevruta. As we have for three years now, my friend and colleague Rabbi Leah Citrin and I are partnering in a social-media Omer count.
In its most basic form, counting the Omer requires very little – each evening, people recite the above blessing which formulaically states the incoming day. It is considered a mitzvah, a commandment. For me, counting the Omer is more of a spiritual practice, a daily moment opportunity for intention-setting. To count the Omer means to intentionally take one more step, each day, away from slavery and toward Torah. The act of counting invites us to take note of each day, to mark time more meaningfully, and to hold on to the passing of time a bit more purposefully.
This year, Rabbi Citrin and I are using a tool to help us with our Omer-counting – a set of cards, one for each day, prepared by Rabbi Karyn Kedar and published through CCAR Press, that offers a different meditation for each day of the Omer. Each night, as we note the beginning of the next day of the Omer (remembering that Jewish calendar days begin at night), we pull the next card from the pile and read the meditation. Sometime during the following 24 hours, we post a picture on Instagram (and sometimes also on Facebook) connecting our lived lives with the meditation on the card.
Day 5’s meditation asked us to live our life as if it were a command, and enabled me to reframe my doctor’s appointment that day as a choice to investigate the pain that was keeping me from feeling like I was living life fully.
Day 7’s meditation simply said: “I wonder…if I dare to be,” and so my picture that day was of my yoga mat, a place I often go to simply “be,” rather than do.
I love this practice of counting the Omer, of actively seeking to make meaning out of seemingly everyday moments, and of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Today’s meditation from the Omer Cards, reads: “There is a quiet, delicate whisper that flutters in the center of our being. It is a gentle whisper, an intuitive push, a yearning, a vision. We don’t want God yelling a divine plan.”
I invite you to join me in counting, perhaps even just today. Sit with the above meditation, just for a moment – where might you notice the quiet, delicate whispers pushing you toward your vision? When do you feel that sense, deep inside, that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing?
Shabbat shalom, and happy counting!
**What is an “Omer,” and what is the point of counting it??
An “Omer” is a portion of barley the ancient Israelites were commanded to bring to the Temple as an offering on the second day of Passover. But “the Omer” also refers to the seven-week time period between the second night of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. At one end, “the Omer” marks the moment the Israelites took their first liberated steps out of Egypt, and at the other end, the moment the Israelites accepted the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai.