Counting the Omer

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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.

Omer Calendar by The Annamatrix based on the original chart at Davka.org
If you begin counting in the upper right corner on the first day, you begin with the “bright red of rebellion” and end forty-nine days later at the “brilliant violet of royalty” ready to receive Torah. Each day we focus on that color (and its qualities) as it appears in our world.

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

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