Rabbis Without Borders: Life After Redemption: Why Counting the Omer Is A Quintessential Jewish Experience

April 19, 2017

"....At times like these, we can find ourselves a little adrift spiritually. Unlike in the fall, when Rosh Hashanah leads into Yom Kippur which leads into Sukkot, the splendor and fervor of Passover, coupled with the absence of any religious content immediately afterward, can leave us wanting. It turns out, though, that the rabbis of old did not intend for us to be left religiously isolated after Passover. Instead, they left behind another ritual, well known but little practiced, that I think can and should be a point of personal engagement for each of us: the counting of the omer.

The omer refers to the 49-day period between the second night of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. 'Omer' means a sheaf of barley and connotes the ancient agricultural heritage of Shavuot, when Jews would bring their first sheaves of barley from their spring harvest to offer as sacrifices. After the destruction of the Second Temple, the omer became relegated to the realm of liturgy, with Jews reciting a prayer and an enunciation of the new day every night from the second night of Passover until Shavuot. In recent years, however, many people have turned to mystical interpretations of these 49 days, infusing them with kabbalistic meaning as a 49-step self-empowerment regimen. You can now purchase books or go online or here, to find out about how each new day offers psycho-spiritual insights to improve your inner character...."

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By Rabbi Joshua Ratner a Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, from the Rabbis Without Borders Blog on My Jewish Learning.com