היום יום אחד בעמר
Today is the first day of the omer
A day of loving kindness in a week of loving kindness
We drank the wine, ate the matzah, maror, charoset, and all the other tasty dishes that come with the Passover seder. We asked the questions, re-enacted the story of liberation from Egypt, Mitzrayim, our narrow place, and find ourselves now on the road to revelation. To guide us on our journey, tonight we start the counting of the omer--49 steps of mindfulness.
You can find the how, when, what, and origin of this ritual in this article by Rabbi Jill Jacobs and in this entry in the Judaism 101 online encyclopedia. For a brief explanation of the Kabbalistic counting method, you can read this article from Rabbi Simon Jacobson. In the proverbial nutshell, we count 49 days from the second day of Passover to the day before Shavuot, based on the teaching from the Torah--Leviticus 23:15-16. The Kabbalists added a layer of using 7 Sephirot, attributes that can serve as a connection to the Transcendent spirit, giving us a way to internalize the counting. Each day is assigned an attribute; each week is assigned an attribute. So the counting is not just a number, but a unique couplet of awareness.
I will once again take up my practice of blogging the omer, writing a post each day. As I remarked last year, I add to the count with an accounting of my life. This year I realize another obvious connection that I have manage to miss in this context until now. In Hebrew, the word for counting - ספ'רה - and the word for recount, tell a story - לספר – have the same root. And so, it all comes together.
For those of you who participate in the counting, I'm glad once again to count along with you. For those who have never counted, I invite you to come along for the ride. You are all welcome to download the simple chart you see to the left to help you keep track. I will also be tweeting out the count each evening, California time, so feel free to follow me, @mdivah.
On this day of double loving-kindness, remember that the counting, like life, is a process. There are often bumps in the road, and sometimes our journey takes us in a different direction. But the beauty of our traditions, these rituals we have followed for so many centuries, through so many generations, is that they remain for us to turn to, if not this year, the next.