Today is one day of the Omer in the year 5782, Chesed Shebe Chesed חסד שבחסד, Covenantal Love within Covenantal Love. The Omer begins with stepping into the Divine Flow. Wading into the River of Being as I begin my sixth year of public counting.
Foreign, yet ever-modern, connection
The counting of the Omer begins on the second night of Passover and continues for seven weeks. Once those forty-nine days are complete, we begin the celebration of Weeks, of Shavuot, a “major” Jewish holiday that many progressive Jews leave aside.
Kabbalists connected the count of barley offerings to the seven lower sefirot, emanations of God that reflect the human condition. By contemplating deeply into each day’s permutation, we can expand our perspective and begin to transform ourselves. The journey from Pesach to Shavuot is the journey from a sense of moving towards spiritual freedom. We purify ourselves to become worthy of the revelation waiting for us on Shavuot. The Jewish calendar is fixed, but the humans living into each day are changing.
Passover gives us a clear choice: Slavery or Freedom. On the one hand, we can allow the world around us to determine our lives. Or, we can choose how to live into each day of our lives and take control of the hours in our days.
Flowing into God’s Grace
So many descriptions of God are foreign to Jewish ears. So many Jewish ears are jaded by rituals that never touched them and never sparked connection with their souls. I used to live in that reality. Then I found the life-changing reality of God’s presence and Jewish wisdom.
On the 44th day of the Omer, I will be ordained a rabbi.
I am no longer trepidatious about these meditations. I’ve written my thesis and I understand my life’s work. My purpose is to bring the breadth of Jewish ethical mysticism to modern ears. I want to help people connect with their souls and the Soul of the Universe. In whatever form that takes for each person. All of this begins by allowing God’s Grace to flow through me.
So often, universalist Jews bristle at the particularistic language of Jewish prayers and Jewish philosophy. Yet, it is exactly our uniqueness that keeps us going. Our culture, our civilization is distinct. True, we are a multi-ethnic people and probably always have been. Yet, our Jewish identity is deeper than a set of beliefs, and wider than a family. Covenantal love binds us.
The Evolving God chooses to connect with us. HaShem created a distinct bond with Israel. Since HaShem is beyond fully knowing, beyond simple words or definitions, there is nothing about our special bond that precludes HaShem choosing other people and other ways of connecting with humanity. Yet, I don’t have to practice yoga to have an embodied spiritual practice. My whole body connects with prayer, and I stop being Me and start becoming One with All. Maybe you get a glimpse of this sense when you hike a mountain or spend time in a large body of water. Perhaps a sunset or the love of your beloved pet reminds you of this flow.
Jewish prayer has always been my conduit. My soul song. May you find the song that elevates your soul and reminds you of the you constantly evolving.
To be clear, though my ordination is around the corner, my journey is only beginning. I too enter the Omer unsure of where it will lead. I am committed to living into Judaism as my path towards a better self. I invite you to take this journey with me.