Sunday, May 1, 2011

Counting of the Omer, a Time of Anticipation

The time between Passover and Shavuot is a time of great anticipation. During these seven weeks (sheva Shavuot) we engage in a ritual called the counting of the Omer. An omer is a measurement of wheat, and traditionally, we counted the omer in order to estimate the correct time for harvest. As the rabbis translated this agricultural ritual into their times and worldview, the counting of the omer was a ritual to mark each of the days from liberation to revelation, the receiving of Torah at Mount Sinai. Centuries later with the writing of the Zohar, the core mystical Jewish text, each of these 49 days took on cosmic significance, representing an attribute of God’s existence such as judgment, compassion, power, etc.

These next few weeks are also a time of counting and anticipation for me. In 19 days I will be ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where I will be counted among the ranks of the Conservative rabbinate. In approximately 10 weeks, I will begin my work as your rabbi, and am waiting for July 15th, 2011 with great anticipation. The opportunities to teach Torah, cultivate spiritual practice, and fortify our community are overwhelming and incredibly exciting. The traditional Shavuot diet is traditionally filled with dairy treats such as cheese cake and macaroni and cheese. I know that when I arrive in Maine, we will celebrate with blueberries, honey, and all of the other traditional Maine summer delicacies. The work will be great, but I anticipate the joy and fulfillment will match the enormity of the task.