Monday, April 10, 2017

Omer 2017


Counting the Omer is one of my favorite Jewish rituals. Beginning on the second night of Passover, we count 49 days, ending on the 50th day with the celebration of Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates our receiving the Torah at Sinai.

According to Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), we don't just count the days. Each week and each day also have a corresponding sephira - an emotion or aspect of God - so that as we count, we also reflect on the intersection of the day's sephira with the sephira of the week. The seven sephirot are:
    1. Chesed (חסד): love, kindness
    2. Gevurah (גבורה): strength, power, justice, bravery
    3. Tiferet (תפארת): beauty, balance, compassion
    4. Netzach (נצח‎): eternity, endurance, victory
    5. Hod (הוד): splendor, majesty, glory, humility
    6. Yesod (יסוד): foundation, connection
    7. Malchut (מלכות): leadership

    The first day of each week is the day of chesed. The weeks go in the same order, so the second week is gevurah, making the eighth day of the Omer (day one of week two) loving-kindness in strength.

    Counting the Omer in this way is meant to help us contemplate our inner selves and become better people over the course of the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot. Over the past few years, I've blogged my counting, including last year, when I paired each day of the Omer with a woman from the Tanakh.

    Before I finished counting the Omer last year, I came up with a new idea for the coming year: counting the Omer with music. Music has a way of reaching into our souls and stirring emotions that can sometimes be difficult to articulate, so each day this year I will pair the sephirot with a song. The counting begins tomorrow night at the second night seder. Happy Passover!