Saturday, May 4, 2013

Count the Omer: Days 39 & 40



Day 39: Netzach sheb'Yesod, Endurance within Connection

"'Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.' And He added, 'So shall your offspring be.' And because he put his trust in the Lord, He reckoned it to his merit." Genesis 15:5-6
This promise exemplifies endurance within connection. Through Abraham's connection with God, he gave birth to a nation as numerous as the stars, a nation that has endured the tests of time. Nowhere, however, does God promise that those offspring will remain Jewish. Two years ago, Rabbi Eric Yanoff in the Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia, gave a d'var about passing on Judaism.

"Every generation," he said, "fears that it will be the last generation of Judaism." Not through some horrific event, like the Holocaust, but through a failure to connect with the next generation. Every generation fears that they will somehow fail to pass on their Jewish values, to engage the incoming generation in Jewish life in a meaningful and long-lasting way.

We are quickly approaching Shavout, a holiday that is all about connection. Shavuot celebrates the receiving of the Torah at Sinai, the establishment of a lasting relationship between God and the Jewish people. Each year, as we celebrate by eating cheesecake and staying up all night to learn and study, we create that connection with God all over again.

Day 40: Hod sheb'Yesod, Majesty within Connection
The Torah is a guide for our lives. It details relationships between individuals, between tribes, and between Israel and God. In just ten days we will celebrate the day that God gave us the Torah, thus providing us with a manual for how to connect with God and with others, and how to incorporate Judaism into our daily lives.