April 29, 2013 by mcknz
The process of counting the Omer is a beautiful exercise in faith. As we count the 49 days from Pesach to Shavuot, we are not just praying for the bounty of the harvest, the bounty of Torah to be revealed to us, we are absolutely sure it is coming. Pesach celebrations the initial point of liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Mitzrayim; Shavuot, the receiving of the Torah, marks the culmination of our liberation process. The practice of counting the Omer, marking each day of this liberatory process, can serve as a model for us in working towards the culmination our collective liberation today. How would our struggles look if we were absolutely sure that revelation was at hand? If we knew for certain that our daily practice would result in clarity of truth, collective wholeness, and the manifestation of our ideals, how would we work, think, and talk to each other differently? How can we embody those changes and that vision today?
This is the week of Yesod, understood as “foundation” or “bonding.” It is apt that these two words would be paired together. As we prepare to receive the Torah, we are called to create a firm foundation on which to accept it. And what better foundation than the one created by the bond between human beings? This week inspires us to focus on the bonds we have with each other, individually and communally. We must contemplate – are we truly investing in each other? Are we giving our relationships the time, energy, and care they need to ground us in our lives? Are we, as Jewish people, investing in our relationships with other communities, cultivating bonds that will sustain, inspire, and strengthen us?
Counting the Omer as a model for collective liberation today gives us permission to refuse the scarcity models our society feeds us: if they have all they need, I will have less. Assurance in collective liberation frees us from fears of scarcity and points us towards abundance. If we imagined that we will all have all that we need, what kind of generosity would this spark in us? If we knew that the world we’re fighting for was really just around the bend, how would our communities function differently? How would we care for each other? How would we enable each other to shine?
Let’s practice this week. Let’s be sure our liberation is coming so soon, we can count the days. Let’s treat each other as we would if we were certain we would always have enough of what we need. Let’s invest in each other with our collective hopes and visions. Let’s model not just the world we need, but the world we want.
Marjorie Dove Kent is the Executive Director of Jews for Racial & Economic Justice. She comes to JFREJ with nine years of experience in issue-based, identity-based, and neighborhood-based organizing. She has worked as an organizer for the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, for the Boston Workman’s Circle, and as a neighborhood organizer in St. Louis. Marjorie has also organized a coalition of Boston Jews to support the construction of a mosque in the city, worked with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition to build a diverse support base for the DREAM Act, and led a year-long secular Havurah on Zionist and Palestinian Nationalist histories. She is a graduate of the Hebrew College Me’ah Program in Jewish Learning, the Jewish Organizing Initiative Fellowship, and the Jewish Social Justice Workers learning circle.