From Rabbi Amitai Adler (May 2016) 

 

Counting the Omer

This month of May will, for us, largely be taken up with counting the Omer. Traditionally, from the second day of Pesach, we count 50 days, the 50th being the holiday Shavuot. And for each one of those 50 days, we say a brachah, and ritually count off one more day in each of the seven weeks separating Pesach and Shavuot.

These 50 days marked 50 days that it took our ancestors to travel from Egypt to Sinai—the measure of the interval between attaining our freedom and dedicating our freedom to the covenant between God and Israel.

For us, there is more to the process and merely counting off days, more than just ticking off time between one holiday and another. Each one of the days of the Omer is an opportunity for us to consider anew the process involved in moving from the attainment of freedom to the dedication of that freedom in the covenant between God and Israel. Each day is a chance for us to contemplate what it means for us to surrender some of our freedom voluntarily by taking on obligations to one another, to God, and to previous and future generations of Jews.

What is more, each day is a chance for us to contemplate different aspects of the divine nature, and how those aspects interact with one another, and how they interact with the created world, and how we interact with them. A nice summary of how this can function, within the paradigm of Kabbalistic and Chasidic thought can be found here: http://www.neshamah.net/2015/04/kabbalah-counting-omer.html

Counting the Omer is an excellent spiritual practice, which, as a daily process, can easily be integrated with many forms of mindfulness, meditation, prayer, and other forms of spiritual self-actualization. I encourage everybody to give it a shot this year, if you are not already doing so.

I will be looking forward to seeing you all for Shavuot, come June!

   

Rabbi Amitai Adler