March 21, 2013 by youngjewishbk
Pesach is my favorite holiday for so many reasons: liberation, food, wine, a change in eating custom that makes us think more closely about what we’re eating and why, a ton of eating and singing and shouting and laughing together, and emerging, in the end, out of the stuck-places in our lives and hearts and communities. It’s a beautiful, beautiful time.
But the other thing that’s really awesome about Pesach is that on the second night, we start counting the Omer. Maybe this is a new idea to some, so I’ll explain.
The Omer is the name of a unit of measure, and back during the temple period, and omer of grain was given in the temple as an offering on the second night. Counting, in part, reminds us of of this offering, and that Pesach comes during a harvest time. We count each night for 49 nights.
Counting the Omer, though, also draws a line, through Pesach and into Shavuot. Through our liberation from bondage into receiving Torah at Mt. Sinai. Being given the Torah, then, is directly linked to our liberation.
The practice of Counting the Omer today happens in many ways – some prefer a traditional practice of saying the blessing and counting each night, others prefer to bring in a meditative or creative practice, and others are playful about it (like counting state birds as part of an Omer practice). If it’s your first time thinking about, or doing, an Omer practice, feel it out for yourself to find out what you’re interested in doing and focusing in on to make the practice meaningful to you.
This year, Locally Grown Shabbat, in partnership with local young Jewish leaders (many from the Young Jewish Brooklyn communities!), will send out weekly Omer reflections to guide us along the way in our path through liberation and towards wisdom and Torah. Interested in getting these e-mails? Sign up here! Reflections will go out every Sunday to help start the week off with some focus on the Omer.
Resources for Counting the Omer
- How to Count the Omer by Rabbi Jill Jacobs at My Jewish Learning
- The OU’s transliterated blessings for each day of the Omer
- Rabbi Yael Levy’s A Way In – the Omer and mindfulness practice
- Ritualwell’s Counting the Omer resources (many to choose from!)
- The Velveteen Rabbi’s Resources for Counting the Omer
- A Kabbalistic approach to Counting the Omer, from the Kabbalah Center
- PunkTorah has some great resources for Omer calendars
- Be creative! Are there 49 things you can count? Write? Read? Make? How might you build an Omer practice for yourself, that leads you from the moment of liberation towards the fullness of what might be possible when you are liberated?