Nearing the End of the Year-But Who's Counting?

As a Jewish day school, so much of our year is scheduled according to our holidays, life cycle events, and our weekly observance of Shabbat. I’m pleasantly reminded of the times of the year and their hectic nature, which also at times gives way to calmer and less scheduled periods of time. 

While we’re currently in a slower time period where we have left Pesach and modern Israeli celebrations and commemorations behind us, we also have the daily reminder of the counting of the Omer to remind us that we are not finished with holidays for this year! 

This counting of seven weeks from the 16th day of Nisan (i.e., the second day of Pesach), extends until Shavuot on which the omer offering of the new barley crop was brought to the Temple.It also connects the anniversary of the exodus from Egypt with celebrating  the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Today, the counting of the Omer is mostly ceremonial, but it beautifully holds the space between Pesach and Shavuot and gives us the nightly opportunity to center ourselves and reflect. There is also a beautiful tradition that includes the kabbalistic sefirot for each week and day of the counting. For example, last night, we counted the 26th day. We are in the week of Netzach, often translated as endurance and the day of Hod, translated as humility. Therefore, our day today is focused on finding humility within endurance. 

For me, this relates directly to the time of year that we are in and maybe even the time of the week. In these last weeks of the school year, we can find incredible energy within ourselves to push towards the summer, but still need to be grounded in the fact that every single day still deserves our attention and care. Even today, I can almost taste the rest and relaxation that Shabbat will soon provide, but still have countless tasks to accomplish before I make it there. 

This week’s parasha, Emor, gives us a glance at some of the bigger holiday observances for the year. The text introduces these celebrations as “fixed times'' and stresses the importance of the dates and times of year that they are to be observed. While I read these words, I am excited by the prospect of celebrating these holidays again (some soon and some further along), and it also feels like the year is moving too fast. The parasha brings us back to the counting of the Omer and reminds us that we are in the middle of a process, and that even in the act of counting towards our next big holiday, it is important to count each day and stay present. 

Wishing you all a restful shabbat,