Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Counting the Omer Day 1

Today, the second day of Pesach, is the start of the period of counting the omer. Each evening a blessing is said as the day is counted. We count 49 days--the time between Pesach and Shavuot. It is a biblical observance--its origin can be found in Leviticus 23:15
"And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering — the day after the sabbath* — you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: 16 you must count until the day after the seventh week — fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to Adonai."
For most Jews these days, this observance has completely fallen away. I don't remember learning about it in Hebrew school 40 years ago. But with the resurgence in the teaching of the spiritual aspects of Jewish practice I now have not only an awareness of this ritual but have taken it on as a way to deepen my connection to Judaism, to myself, and to the world.

This year I will enter a blog post for each day of the count. I will try to write a bit as well, sharing not just my usual life thoughts and observations, but adding some teachings as well. I use the kabbalistic method of counting with the bottom 7 of the Sephirot. One explanation of this method by Rabbi Goldie Milgrom can be found here.

On this day of Chesed she b'Chesed**--a day of loving kindness in a week of loving kindness, I will be helping to lead a third seder at the Sequoias--a retirement community in San Francisco. A Beth Sholom congregant--Hilda Richards, who lives there asked my friend Kenny Altman to run the seder this year and Kenny asked me to lead with him. Spreading some Passover joy with those who wouldn't otherwise participate in a seder is a good way to start this spiritual journey.

*the sabbath in this case means the chag day--the holiday--of Pesach. There are numerous commentaries on this, but that's the simple explanation for now.
**because this is transliterated from the Hebrew, there are many options for spelling--see this post on the different Hannukah spellings. I've chosen to use Chesed here, but you could also use Hesed, and I'm sure there are other variations.

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