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Mystical & Aboriginal Combination 5772/2012 by Yael Raff Peskin

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Mystical & Aboriginal Combination 5773/2013 by Yael Raff Peskin

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Traditional Guidelines for Counting the Omer from Mezzuzah Scrolls

To view traditional guidelines for Counting the Omer, < click here >

“GATHER THE BROKEN” by Amichai Lau-Lavie & Jacqueline Nicholls

To view insightful daily Omer reflections by Amichai Lau-Lavie with heartbreakingly beautiful drawings bJacqueline Nichollsclick here >

Omer Drawings by Jacqueline Nicholls

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Omer Counting Calendar from Kabbalah 4 All

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Counting the Omer from Kabbalah 4 All

To view clear descriptions and complete blessings for counting the Omer, including Lam’Nazeiach and Ana B’Choach, < click here >

Counting the Omer Resources from RITUALWELL

To view a wealth of resources from RITUALWELL on Counting the Omer, < click here >

Omer Counting Poetry by Alden Solovy

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“REFLECT THE OMER” on Huff Post

To view daily postings of 49 Mystical Days Of Prayer, Reflection And Growth< click here >

Omer Counting with Rabbi Rachel Barenblat

To view Rabbi Rachel Barenblat’s daily posts on her synagogue’s website during the Omer Period, click here > 

Also, to check out her exceptionally beautiful and inspirational writings on Counting the Omer at her Velveteen Rabbi blog, < click here

 

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Counting the Omer at Peeling a Pomegranate

To view Ketzirah/Carly Lesser‘s incredibly beautiful and comprehensive website< click here >

Includes so many wonderful references and resources – plan to spend a good long while exploring this inspiring website!

Omer Paintings by D’vorah Horn

To view D’vorah Horn’s 2011 Omer paintings,  < click here >

To view D’vorah Horn’s 2010 Omer paintings, < click here >

 

Through the Gates: A Practice for Counting the Omer by Susan Windle and Matthew van der Giessen (2012)

Highly recommended by Rabbi Mike Comins

To view book, < click here >

Counting the Omer: A Daily Devotional Toward Shavuot by William Mark Huey (2012)

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Daily Omer Haiku 5772 by Yael Raff Peskin

FIRST DAY OF THE OMER 5772

CHESED -> CHESED   (lovingkindness w/in lovingkindness)

SOUTH -> SOUTH   (inner clarity of inner clarity)

waking up to love

completely immersed in love

glorious spring day

 

2nd DAY OF THE OMER 5772

GEVURAH -> CHESED (disciplined strength w/in lovingkiness)

NORTH -> SOUTH   (vision/mystery of inner clarity)

outpouring of love

balancing on a tightrope

mindful tenderness

3rd DAY OF THE OMER 5772

TIFERET -> CHESED   (beauty/harmony w/in lovingkindness)

EAST -> SOUTH   (balance of inner clarity) 

beauty adornment

embracing liberation

freedom of the heart

9th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

GEVURAH -> GEVURAH   (strength/discipline w/in strength/discipline)

NORTH -> NORTH    (vision/mystery w/in vision/mystery)

sinking into strength

welcoming my true self home

dancing with shadows

.

10th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

TIFERET -> GEVURAH  (beauty/harmony w/in strength/discipline)

EAST -> NORTH  (balance w/in vision/mystery)

middle way power

lifting the weight of all worlds

diving into awe

.

11th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

NETZACH -> GEVURAH (endurance w/in strength)
ABOVE -> NORTH (essential/universal w/in vision/mystery)

journeys continue
unpacking and re-packing
dancing in spirals

.

12th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

HOD -> GEVURAH (humility/awe w/in strength)
BELOW -> NORTH (rootedness w/in vision/mystery).

carried on the wind
wisdom beyond the ages
stirring the oatmeal

.

13th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

YESOD -> GEVURAH (bonding/foundation w/in strength)
WEST -> NORTH (blending w/in vision/mystery).

sliding into freedom
long drives into open fields
there’s no place like home

.

15th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

CHESED -> TIFERET (lovingkindness w/in beauty/harmony)
SOUTH -> EAST (inner clarity w/in balance)

singing a new song
searching for the melody
finding harmony

.

16th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

GEVURAH -> TIFERET (strength w/in beauty/harmony)
NORTH -> EAST (vision/mystery w/in balance)

laughing in the wind
dancing in community
letting go of self

.

17th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

TIFERET -> TIFERET (beauty/harmony w/in beauty/harmony)
EAST -> EAST (balance w/in balance)

bursting open hearts
embracing limitations
deepest compassion

.

18th DAY OF THE OMER 5772 – Yom Ha’Zikaron

NETZACH -> TIFERET (endurance w/in beauty/harmony)
ABOVE -> EAST (essential/universal w/in balance)

remembering life
taking hold of each moment
mountains and rivers

.

9th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

HOD -> TIFERET (humility w/in beauty/harmony)
BELOW -> EAST (rootedness w/in balance)

come into my arms
you, as you are on this day
come into my heart

.

20th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

YESOD -> TIFERET (bonding w/in beauty/harmony/compassion)
WEST -> EAST (blending w/in balance)

meeting true wonder
rising to the occasion
bonded for lifetimes

.

22th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

CHESED -> NETZACH (lovingkindness w/in endurance/eternity)
SOUTH -> ABOVE (inner clarity/essential self w/in essential/universal)

if that’s all there is
the promise of a new day
then let’s keep dancing

.

23rd DAY OF THE OMER 5772

GEVURAH -> NETZACH
(strength/patience w/in endurance/eternity)
NORTH -> ABOVE (vision/mystery w/in essential/universal)

one step, then the next
pausing near the mountaintop
journeying onward

.

24rd DAY OF THE OMER 5772

TIFERET -> NETZACH
(beauty/harmony w/in endurance/eternity)
EAST -> ABOVE (balance w/in essential/universal)

breathing in pure joy
breathing out sheer amazement
standing on one foot

.

25th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

NETZACH -> NETZACH (endurance/eternity w/in endurance/eternity)
ABOVE -> ABOVE (essential/universal w/in essential/universal)

renewed commitment
endless dishes and laundry
keep on keeping on

.

26th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

HOD -> NETZACH . (humility/awe w/in endurance/eternity)
BELOW -> ABOVE . (rootedness w/in essential/universal)

soaking in spring rains
standing in awe for all time
hopefulness blossoms

.

27th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

YESOD -> NETZACH . (bonding w/in endurance/eternity)
WEST -> ABOVE . (blending w/in essential/universal)

jesse • sam • lila
three treasures beyond measure
beyond the beyond

.

29th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

CHESED -> HOD . (.lovingkindness w/in humility/awe)
SOUTH -> BELOW . (.inner clarity/essential self w/in rootedness)

sweet celebration
spring cleaning inside and out
welcoming new life

.

30th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

GEVURAH -> HOD . (.strength/discipline w/in humility/awe)
NORTH -> BELOW . (.vision/mystery w/in rootedness)

moving into light
exploring innermost strength
shadows draw me near

.

31st DAY OF THE OMER 5772

TIFERET -> HOD . (.beauty/harmony w/in humility/awe)
EAST -> BELOW . (.balance w/in rootedness)

beckoning pathways
timing is of the essence
traveling onward

.

32nd DAY OF THE OMER 5772

NETZACH -> HOD . (.endurance w/in humility/awe)
ABOVE -> BELOW . (.essential/universal w/in rootedness)

scaling mountain tops
plunging into new waters
diving into life

.

33rd DAY OF THE OMER 5772 – Lag B’Omer!

HOD -> HOD  (humility w/in humility/awe)
BELOW -> BELOW  (rootedness w/in rootedness)

opening the gates
dog b’omer at the beach!
waves of salty joy

.

37th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

GEVURAH -> YESOD (.strength w/in bonding)
NORTH -> WEST . (.vision/mystery w/in blending)

after the hoopla
beyond bar-b-ques and cards
mothers’ days flower

.

38th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

TIFERET -> YESOD (.beauty/compassion w/in bonding)
EAST -> WEST (.balance w/in blending/transformation)

silver and gold friends
planting, budding, harvesting
counting our blessings

.

39th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

NETZACH -> YESOD .             (.endurance/perseverance w/in bonding/foundation)
ABOVE -> WEST .                                (.essential/universal w/in blending/transformation)

every moment counts
don’t let your days slip away
don’t miss your lifetime

.

40th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

HOD -> YESOD . (.humility w/in bonding/foundation)
BELOW -> WEST . (.rootedness w/in blending/transformation)

skipping stones at sea
single digits counting down
eternity smiles

.

41st DAY OF THE OMER 5772

YESOD -> YESOD . (.bonding w/in bonding/foundation)
WEST -> WEST . (.blending w/in blending/transformation)

reaching out for you
with all of my being
I am here for you

.

42nd DAY OF THE OMER 5772

MALCHUT -> YESOD . (.majesty w/in bonding/foundation)
CENTER -> WEST . (.fullness w/in blending/transformation)

need you beside me
could be last chance at romance
let’s dance the last dance 

.< click here for Donna Summer z”l video – turn it up! >

.

43rd DAY OF THE OMER 5772

CHESED -> MALCHUT                              (.lovingkindness w/in majesty/generosity)
SOUTH -> CENTER. (.inner clarity/essential self w/in fullness)

love in our own time
blessed with gifts and surprises
the climb continues

.

44rd DAY OF THE OMER 5772

GEVURAH -> MALCHUT . (.inner strength w/in majesty)
NORTH -> CENTER. (.vision/mystery w/in fullness)

counting on one hand
open to whatever comes
leading with our hearts

.

45th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

TIFERET -> MALCHUT                        (.harmony/compassion w/in majesty/generosity)
EAST -> CENTER. (.balance w/in fullness)

two different ballgames:
knowing something will happen
something happening

.

46th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

NETZACH -> MALCHUT . (.endurance w/in majesty/generosity)
ABOVE -> CENTER(.essential/universal w/in fullness)

great mountains of light
transformation at the base
rivers of sorrow

.

47th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

HOD -> MALCHUT .                                            (.interbeing/humility w/in majesty/generosity)
BELOW -> CENTER. (.rootedness w/in fullness)

anticipation
stumbling in the homestretch
morning breezes smile

.

48th DAY OF THE OMER 5772

YESOD -> MALCHUT                                      . (.bonding/foundation w/in majesty/generosity)
WEST -> CENTER(.transformation w/in fullness)

omer counting me
revealing inner jewels
heading to sinai

.

49th (LAST!) DAY OF THE OMER 5772

MALCHUT -> MALCHUT . (.divine majesty w/in divine majesty)
CENTER -> CENTER. (.fullness w/in fullness)

sh’ma yisroel
adonai eloheinu
adonai echad

PHOTO: Omer Prayer Stick by Susan Schulman, Oakland

PHOTO: Omer Quilt by Susan Schulman, Oakland

Omer Calendar 5772 by Rabbi Margaret Holub

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Omer Chants (printable version w/ Hebrew) by Shefa Gold

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My Omer Counting Journey (#3): Keva and Kavanah through Crafting

Last Rosh HaShanah, I offered a short teaching to our community on the gifts and challenges of keva (rooted structure) and kavanah (intention, mindfulness), and offered the Counting of the Omer as a prime opportunity to explore finding ways of holding them both.

Years ago, I was deeply moved by a talk Rabbi Debra Orenstein gave on this topic at my local synagogue. She challenged us to find places within the Jewish tradition where we could connect aspects of our creative lives that we do not necessarily associate with being ‘Jewish.’  Rabbi Orenstein also encouraged us to take what is an otherwise unaffiliated practice in our lives and to root it deeply in a Jewish context, bringing a sacred  container to free-flowing creative expression. She then invited us to consider the possibility that, in doing so, we could enhance both Jewish observance and our artistic efforts.

Each year, during the Counting of the Omer, I try to take on at least one new practice to deepen my experience of the inner journey in order to be of greater service in the world. Last year, I wanted to explore ways of dancing with keva and kavanah … of bringing together my love of writing poetry & crafting with natural materials, and my longing for a deep and meaningful spiritual practice. Here’s how I did it …

WRITING OMER HAIKU:  Each day (except Shabbat), immediately after reciting morning blessings upon waking, I would formulate a short Haiku poem, and then post it on Facebook. To see Daily Omer Haiku 5771, <click here>

CRAFTING OMER PRAYER STICKS:  Along with others in my chevruta and in my community, we crafted Omer Prayer Sticks, wrapping intertwining crochet threads around sticks. Different ones of us used different palettes for the seven colors of the sefirot … My daughter stuck with the palette she has come to identify with the sefirot and Counting the Omer since she was two years-old, moving across the rainbow from deep pink into lavender. I used basically the same rainbow theme but with darker hues, moving from deep red to navy blue (because those were the colors that were on sale at our local craft shop!). Others used different palettes, drawing on other resources associating different colors with different directions on a medicine wheel.  To see photos of Omer Prayer Sticks, < click here >

-  CREATING COMMUNITY OMER DANCING POLES:   To see description of Omer Dancing Poles, < click here >

Looking forward to seeing what creative inspiration 5772 brings!

My Omer Counting Journey (#2): Family Practice and Colors of the Omer

After my daughter was born, I wanted to come up with a way to truly engage and include her in Counting the Omer. Appreciating the impulse of Waldorf Education to completely infuse the young child’s world with beauty, I turned to a trusted Waldorf staple: silk scarves! I chose seven pastel colors and purchased two vegetable-dyed 7” squares in each color. Since my two year-old daughter’s world was drenched in pink, she chose dark pink for the first day and week (Chesed/Lovingkindess) and light pink for the next one (Gevurah/ Structure). The beloved Waldorf rainbow of pastel colors continued:  orange (Tiferet/ Beauty), yellow (Netzach/Endurance), green (Hod/Humility), blue (Yesod/Bonding) culminating in the regal purple (Malchut/Majesty). 

A note on matching colors to the sefirot:  I have done a fair amount of research and exploration on this topic and have found a variety of configurations and models. I figured my daughter’s sense of matching the color dark pink to lovingkindness, and following the rainbow to its lavender end (using a double dose of pink!), seemed as reasonable and appropriate as any other combination out there, so we went with that … and it has taken hold of us in a very deep way over the course of the last decade.

Back to the silk scarves … One scarf of each color is hung on a gold cord (beginning with dark pink on the far right and ending with lavender on the far left) in front of a window, wherever the best place is for sunlight to shine through. (Over the years, we have moved our Omer Counting scarves from the living room to the bedroom and now they are back in the living room.) We found these cute little colored clothes pins to match the colors of the scarves and they work great. Each week, one silk scarf (from the second group of scarves, not the ones that are strung on the gold cord) makes its way across the arc of colors–journeying from right to left (as Hebrew is written)– through the entire color spectrum and all of the qualities of the sefirot. In this way, there are 49 different color combinations, each offering a unique color experience of sunlight shining through.  To see photos of the silk scarves, < click here >

Our evolving practice includes saying the blessing for Counting the Omer each night at bedtime and moving the scarf over to the next day. When we wake up the next morning, the sun is shining through a bright new offering of color! Sometimes, we change the scarf first thing in the morning, giddy with excitement to see the sun dancing through the changing combination of colors.

In the morning, then, delighting in the new color qualities of the day streaming into the room, we read from Rabbi Simon Jacobson’s Omer Counting flipbook for inspiration and encouragement to meet the day. A practice we added some years back was for each of us to then do some kind of movement with our bodies that is inspired by the reading. Each person in the family (or group) takes their turn. Then we do all of them together. Then we are really ready to meet the day!

My Omer Counting Journey (#1): Cultivating Contemplative Practices in Chevruta

For almost twenty years, I have been counting and crafting the Omer with my chevruta, my family and my community, each year adding at least one new practice to further embody and beautify the qualities of the Omer Period.

I began counting the Omer with my chevruta in Oakland, CA in the early 1990’s, meeting weekly to reflect on the journeys of our lives within the framework of the Omer Period. We began using Rabbi Simon Jacobson’s now classic flipbook when it was first published in 1996 and, over the years, a sweet format has evolved that includes reading from the flipbook, followed by a period of silent sitting meditation and then sharing what is up for us in our lives. Our discussion is guided by the particular combination of sefirot for that day, and that is the lens we look through to further cultivate the qualities of boundless lovingkindness; discipline and mindfulness; beauty and compassion; endurance and determination; humility and awe; bonding at our core; and open-hearted majesty in our lives.  

Several years ago, we began integrating chanting into our Omer counting practice, matching one of Rabbi Shefa Gold’s chants to each of the sefirot and, also, choosing a chant to recite throughout the Omer Period. Now, we begin and end our gatherings with periods of chanting, further embodying the qualities of each day, each week and the entire Omer Period.  To hear Omer Chants by Rabbi Shefa Gold, < click here >

The Omer Dancing Poles of 5771 by Yael Raff Peskin

Drawing inspiration from the intricate weaving and dancing around Maypoles to celebrate the height of spring with a lively community celebration, last year we created not one, but two, community Omer Dancing Poles! The idea was to come up with a way of counting the Omer each day that would culminate in a celebratory community dance around the Omer Pole on erev Shavuot.

The first pole was modeled after the Maypole at my daughter’s Waldorf school, using webbing straps purchased at the local REI. They didn’t exactly have the pastel palette to match our silk scarves, but we managed to find seven colors that worked: Red (Chesed/Lovingkindess), Orange (Gevurah/ Structure), Yellow (Tiferet/Beauty), Light Green (Netzach/Endurance), Blue (Hod/Humility), Dark Green (Yesod/Bonding) and Purple (Malchut/Majesty). 

We bought two strips of each color. The streamers representing the seven days of the week were left to flow down from the woven willow branches crowning the top of the pole. The other seven streamers (representing the seven weeks of the Omer Period) were each attached to the willow crown all coiled up. When it was their week, they were uncoiled and each day a knot was tied, attaching the streamer for that day to the streamer for that week. To see photos of the Omer Pole knots, < click here >

Even though we had 10’ long webbing straps, we realized that, after a while, the result was going to look more like a loosely woven basket (which was cool) but didn’t leave a lot of room for dancing on Shavuot. To see photos of the Omer Pole at Urban Adama, < click here >

So we created a second, larger Omer Dancing Pole. This one had a much larger willow crown and, each day, we attached another pastel grosgrain ribbon streamer (for the day) wrapped in a ribbon of sequins (for the week). In this way, we ended up with 49 wrapped streamers and had a lively dance on Shavuot, literally wrapping up the Omer period as a community!

The palette for the grosgrain ribbon streamers for the days matched the original silk scarves:  Dark Pink (Chesed/Lovingkindess), Light Pink (Gevurah/Structure). Orange (Tiferet/Beauty), Yellow (Netzach/Endurance), Lime Green (Hod/Humility), Turquoise Blue (Yesod/Bonding) and Deep Lavender (Malchut/Majesty).  Ribbons of brightly-colored sequins made up the palette for the weeks—Red, Light Pink, Brown, Gold, Kelly Green, Royal Blue and Deep Purple Majesty—seven of each color (for the seven weeks) wrapped around the seven colors of grosgrain ribbons representing the days of each week (so that the difference between Malchut sheb’Chesed and Chesed sheb’Malchut, for example, could be easily distinguished). To see photos of the Omer Dancing Pole, < click here

The Omer Poles began their journeys together at Wilderness Torah’s five-day Passover in the Desert celebration. After Lag B’Omer, the pole with the webbing straps spent the rest of the Omer Period at Urban Adama’s farm in Berkeley, CA. The larger Omer Dancing Pole culminated its seven-week trek (visiting various Jewish communities* in the Bay Area), with a lively finale at Wilderness Torah’s Shavuot gathering.  To see photos from Shavuot 5771, < click here >

As the sun was setting on erev Shavuot, the entire community of over 100 celebrants made a large circle around the Omer Dancing Pole. I called in seven groups (of seven people each) to join in the final spiral dance:

Dancing the Omer Counting Pole – Erev Shavuot 5771

Chesed/Dark Pink:  Children

LOVINGKINDNESS:  Celebrating our children’s outpouring of energetic love, playfulness, open-heartedness, pure joy, unconditional love, sweetness …

Gevurah/Light Pink:  Parents

STRUCTURE/DISCIPLINE:  Honoring all of the parents who offer guidance, balancing out the children’s pure outpouring exuberance with a parent’s rootedness, groundedness; Bringing strength, loving discipline and structure to tender hearts.

Tiferet/Orange:  WT Staff & Village Council

BEAUTY/HARMONY/COMPASSION:  The blending of both Chesed and Gevurah; Recognizing the masters of balancing the greatest outpouring of lovingkindness with  gentle discipline and incredible offerings of structures and forms (leaning slightly more towards chesed); working together in harmony to bring forth  a festival infused with beauty.

 Netzach/Yellow:  People who began the journey at Passover in the Desert  &  People who participated in crafting the Omer Pole during the last seven weeks (from other communities); or People who have participated in other WT festivals (if more needed)

ENDURANCE:  Honoring those who sustain and strengthen our Wilderness Torah community over time; whose endurance and commitment encourages us onward. Bringing fresh, vibrant beauty and adornment to creatively enliven earth-based ritual rooted in tradition.

 Hod/Green: Teachers bringing festival offerings

HUMILITY:  Honoring those who bring us beautiful teachings with humility and a deep sense of interbeing; modeling how to bring offerings to our community and into the world; great teachers who are always open to learning 

Yesod/Blue:  New People & Kitchen Staff

FOUNDATION/SENSE PLEASURE:  Celebrating those who support the foundation of our being – Welcoming the enthusiasm, courage and fresh energy of new people who are always joining us in celebration, expanding our growing community; Honoring those who feed us so lovingly and completely with the most wholesome, beautiful local organic fresh seasonal foods and all the care they take to delight our palette and feed our souls.

Malchut/Purple:  Elders

MAJESTY/GENEROUS SPIRIT/WISE PERSPECTIVE: Honoring and celebrating our elders; Lovingly supporting and encouraging those who have travelled many years in this world to step into their roles as mentors and guides in our community.

*  Over the course of the Omer Period  of 5771, the Omer Dancing Poles visited and were co-created with the following communities:

Week 1:  Wilderness Torah – Passover in the Desert, Panamint Valley

Week 2:  Omer Counting Chevruta, Oakland

Week 3:  Hazon Shabbaton/2nd Annual CA Bike Ride, Westminster Woods & Walker Creek Ranch

Week 4:  Or Zaruah Reconstructionist Chavurah Retreat, Wildcat View Campground, Tilden Park

Week 5:  Congregation Netivot Shalom – Lag B’Omer Retreat, Camp Newman

Week 6:  Sebastopol Omer Counting Chevruta

Week 7:  Wilderness Torah – Shavuot on the Mountain Hawkridge Campground, Chabot Park

Welcome to Omer Harvest! – Hiddur Sefirat Ha’Omer

Linking together the harvest festivals of Passover and Shavuot is the seven-week period of Sefirat Ha’Omer (Counting the Omer). 

In the Jewish mystical tradition, each day of the Omer period represents a combination of qualities, drawing from the seven lower sefirot of the Tree of Life:  Chesed (Lovingkindness), Gevurah (Strength), Tiferet (Beauty), Netzach (Endurance), Hod (Humility/Splendor), Yesod (Bonding) and Malchut (Majesty).

Another model draws from the Hebrew Aboriginal Medicine Wheel and uses the seven directions: South (Inner Clarity/Essential Self), North (Vision/Mystery), East (Balance), Above (Essential/Universal), Below (Rootedness), West (Blending) and Center (Fullness).

In both traditions, each of these qualities correlates with each week of the Omer period, as well as with each day of the week. In this way, there are 49 different combinations of qualities over the seven-week Omer period, offering great encouragement for deep personal introspection and exploration.

In Hebrew, ‘hiddur’ means to make beautiful and there is a longstanding tradition of hiddur mitzvah (beautifying a mitzvah) going beyond what is required to perform a mitzvah by infusing our spiritual practice with beauty. Embellishing and adorning ritual objects (such as challah coverings, kiddish cups, seder plates, menorahs, etc.) can enhance and beautify our experience of ritual, and beauty itself then takes on a spiritual dimension.

Omer Harvest is my offering to celebrate the practice of Hiddur Sefirat Ha’Omer–beautifying the counting of the Omer!

Over the last years, there has been growing interest in exploring creative ways to count the Omer. In addition to many new insightful books and comprehensive guides, people have been using beads, painting, quilting, poetry, chanting, yoga and so much more to fully embody and beautify their journeys through the Omer period.  

It is my hope that Omer Harvest will offer support, encouragement and inspiration to individuals and communities drawn to explore new ways of embodying and beautifying the practice of Counting the Omer. I can’t wait to see your artistic offerings and to include them in our Omer Harvest!

With great anticipation,

Yael Raff Peskin

Hebrew Aboriginal Chart for Counting the Omer

CLICK HERE

Hebrew Aboriginal Tradition by Reb Sarah Etz Alon

TALKING STICKS AND THEIR ENERGETIC ATTRIBUTES

Rav Magus, R’Sarah Etz Alon

 

The Talking Sticks were originally conceived to facilitate small group discussion as objects that, when held, gave the bearer safety to speak, unobstructed.  In their crafting, however, they evolved from agents of mediating group discussion, to agents that mediate discussion within ourselves.  The Talking Sticks may be used for their original purpose, but they also may be used as meditative devices, and as tools for healing ourselves and others.

Each of the Talking Sticks carries an energetic attribute of the Ten Sefirot, as given in the Sefer Yetzira, an ancient document of the Hebrew mystery tradition.  Additionally, the Talking Sticks have been individually imbued with a Divine Essence, one of the 72 Divine Names of God, specifically selected to compliment the sefirotic attribute it is paired with.  These Talking Sticks are “Living Amulets.”  They amplify energy going and coming, sending and receiving.  If you open yourself to the Mystery of Creation, then they can be powerful vehicles for interfacing with the Divine elements of Creation and utilizing those elements for healing, growth and transformation.  The Talking Sticks are an open invitation to dance with the Divine in the realm of Creation– to walk through the Portal of Comings and Goings, and seek the sacred within our inner selves.

*** Note, for those engaging the Hebrew Medicine Wheel during the counting of the Omer, the following Breakdown of the attributes of each Talking Stick can be an especially powerful meditation, dialoguing and journaling tool.  Also, Nissan and Iyar, the time between Passover and Shavuot, is an especially potent time to do soul integration work– retrieving and balancing the many levels of the soul.  The meditations and Divine Names associated with these Talking Sticks are perfectly suited for this type of soul work. ***

Medicine Wheel and Divine Name Attributes of the Talking Sticks:

East.  The Place of New Beginnings, is also the place of our Past, for wherever we go from here, all of where we’ve been comes with us.  The East is our place of birthing new resolve.  The Lion resides in the East.  It is the encampment of Yehuda, chieftan of chieftans, whose companions are Yissachar and Zebvulun, valor and service.  Where have you come from?  Into what newness are you being born?  Where are your points of strength and integrity?  What are you willing to fight for?  And what can you let pass you by, knowing that, like the Lion, you are mighty enough that it will not harm you?

This is the East.

The place of our past.  The place of our birth.  The place of our Strength.

East.

The Divine Essence imbued in the Eastern Talking Stick is the letter “Heh” from the Tetragrammaton, three times itself.  This is the pure Divine essence that manifests on Earth, magnified by three.  It is an intensely powerful essence of strength and wisdom and majesty.  The Chieftan of Chieftans.  Call on this energy to amplify your own inner strength as you face challenges in life, or head off into the newness of a beginning.

South.  The South is the Place of Cleansing and Self-Knowing.  It is the direction of the Desert, where the soul is purified through the mikveh of fire.  There is an old teaching in the Hebrew tradition that says, “what will pass through fire, pass through fire, what will pass through water, pass through water.”  Meaning, to purify something, pass it through the element that it can tolerate and survive.  In all other directions, the rite of human purification is through water, but in the South, in the immense expansiveness of the desert, the soul is also passed through fire.  Only by burning away all the outer illusions of who we think we are, can we truly look inside ourselves, and know.

This is the South.

The Present.  The place we go for our inner truth.  Where we cannot hide from ourselves.  Where we take the birth that East has just gifted us, and mature it through our inner essence, our holy of holies, our inside of our inside of our inside.  If we are going in the other direction (counter-clockwise around the medicine wheel) then South is the place where we find out who we are, as we prepare for a new beginning.

South.

The Divine Essence imbued in the Southern Talking Stick amplifies the fine-tuned balancing of our spiritual and physical states of alignment.

West.  The West is Ma’arav.  The Blending Place.  The place of transition and transformation, where everything is and isn’t, all at once.  The West is Dusk, it is Autumn, it is Death– or more specifically, the process of Dying.  The West is neither here nor there.  Our adult place, where we really really want to see life concretely in black and white, but where it nebulously morphs into a smokey, hazy gray.  The West is the place which eludes definition, for the color of the West is black, the color which has all colors within it.  The West is our Future, born from all the swirling possibility within us.  And, because the West is the place of Dying, it is also the place of Healing.

This is the West.

The Divine Essence of the Western Talking Stick is the attribute of compassion generated through the parallel universes and the mystery which unites them.  How does this work?  The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, upon which the Universe is founded, flow in part from this Divine essence.

Still don’t get it?  Think Mercy and Compassion in their most balanced forms.

North.  The North is the Mystery Place.  The place of the unknown and unseen.  It is the direction of Vision.  Where we go for clarity and illumination.  And it is the only direction to have four animal totems assigned to it.  The Eagle and the Scorpion, representing the rational, as you see it world.  The Phoenix and the Snake, representing the world of mystery.  Which world are you in?  The rational, as you see it?  Then look skyward to the Eagle to strengthen your spirit self, or Earthward to the Scorpion– but watch out for its sting!  If you are in the mystery world, then the Phoenix is your spirit totem, calling you to rise from the ashes of your broken places, to transform from death into something strong and beautiful.  Earthward is Nachash, the Snake, the trickster being who challenges us to be awesomely human, awesomely ourselves.

This is the North.  The Unknown.  The Mystery.  Go to the North, if you dare, but be warned– in the North, you never know what you’re going to get.

The Divine Essence of the Northern Talking Stick opens the flow of the 32 gates of wisdom, further amplifying the mystery attribute of the North.

Up.  The Climbing Place.  The place that beings that grow skyward yearn for.  It is the realm of spirit.  Where our souls call out to for strength and support.  Up is the giving place.  The place of Blessings and Grace.  Up is where we almost always look to find God, and it is the place from which we are reminded that God is everywhere.  Something to remember about Up, is that if you go too far Up, into the sky or into spirit, you can lose your frame of Earthly reference, lose your sense of up and down– so if you’re going up, get grounded first!  (This is one of the reasons the Kohen HaGadol, the High Priest, wore bells on the hem of his robe– so that during certain shamanic rites, he would hear the bells and be recalled Earthward.)

The Divine Essence imbued in the Up Talking Stick is the love the Creator has for each and every individual element of Creation, including each of us wee little human beings.

Down.  Down is the Tribal Place.  The place of our Ancestors, and of all that came before.  It is the Earthy Place.  The place of rocks, of underground waters, and the roots of trees.  All the elements of Creation reside in the Earth, thus, Down has all that we need– it is a place of respite and nurturing.

Earth.  Elements.  Ancestors.  Creation.

This is Down.

One is the Breath of the Living God

(also understood as One is the Breath of the Living Forces)

The Sh’ma says it all– Everything is God.  God is Oneness.  Unity.  Wholeness.

Everything is Breathed by God.

The Divine Essence imbued in the One is the Breath of the Living God Talking Stick is the attribute of the unification of the Ten Sefirot into one unified Divine manifestation.

Breath from Breath.  The element of Air.  The element of Spirit.  The Breath of the Living God which, when breathed, animates Creation.  In the Hebrew mystery tradition, air corresponds to the mother letter Aleph, whose function it is to balance opposites so that they can exist simultaneously without destroying each other.  An example of this occurs in the Biblical narrative when the archangel Micha’el and the archangel Gavri’el manifested as pillars of fire and of ice, one on either side of the Ark of the Covenant.  Although they stood side by side, fire and ice, neither the one consumed the other.  Air (manifesting as Spirit hovering in and around the Ark) balances these opposites because it contains both fire and water within it.  Thus Air is balance and harmony in a universe of opposites.

The Divine Essence attached to the Breath from Breath Talking Stick is the attribute of Creation which binds Heaven and Earth.

Water from Breath.  Water is the stuff of Life.  It is the single defining element of Earth, the Water Planet.  Without water we have nothing.  Without water, we might as well pack it in and go back to the Pleiades.  Water is essential to our physical being, but it also represents our psychological and spiritual being as well.  Water is fluid.  Water changes from one state to the next, solid-fluid-gas, and then back again– and so too does life.  Water is reminiscent of the circle.  It’s not linear, it goes round and round and round, and yet water, unobstructed, will always flow to the sea.  Thus also with the soul, which moves round and round, turning turning, through one lifetime, through many lifetimes, and left unobstructed, will always seek to return to its source, to the Creator.

Water is Life.

The Divine Essence invested in the Water from Breath Talking Stick is the attribute of the flow back and forth of the energies that surround the Divine Presence as manifested in the physical plane.

Fire from Water.  Fire is the primal energy of Creation.  The spark that gets things going, and the fuel that keeps them moving.  Light is fire.  So is darkness.  Everything in our knowable reality is Fire Fire Fire.  Fire also is the agent that, with Air, forms Ruach, spirit breathed from the Creator to animate living beings.  Thus, Fire is the primal life-force of Creation within us.

The Divine Essence invested in the Fire from Water Talking Stick is the attribute of Life-Force emanating from the Great Mystery downward into Creation.

 

PHOTO: Omer Silk Scarves

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Hiddur Sefirat Ha’Omer: Crafting the Omer in Community

CLICK HERE

Omer Calendar of Biblical Women by Rabbi Jill Hammer with Shir Yaakov Feit (2012)

Beautiful little book with laminated cover. 

Each day of this calendar features the story of a biblical woman who embodies the unique spiritual dimension of that day of the Omer. The calendar also contains illustrations from classical paintings and modern midrashic art. The author of the calendar is Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, author of Sisters at Sinai: New Tales of Biblical Women and The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons. Rabbi Hammer is Director of Spiritual Education at the Academy for Jewish Religion. Shir Yaakov Feit, Creative and Music Director of Romemu, New York City’s Center of Judaism for Body, Mind, and Spirit, designed the calendar.

To see an excerpt from this book, < click here >

To purchase this book, < click here

Journey Through the Wilderness: A Mindfulness Approach to the Ancient Jewish Practice of Counting the Omer by Rabbi Yael Levy (2012)

In this book, Rabbi Yael Levy gathers wisdom from Psalms and the Jewish mystical tradition into a unique Mindfulness approach to the ancient Jewish practice of Counting the Omer during the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot. This 96-page, full-color guide includes the Omer blessings in Hebrew and English, daily teachings and intentions, pages for reflections and photographs to inspire meditation. Daily suggestions for action deepen the experience of counting each day and making each day count. Using insights gained from more than a decade of her own spiritual exploration with the Omer, Rabbi Levy has created a guide for spiritual growth for beginners and those who have experience with this practice.

To view this book, < click here >

Omer/Teshuvah: 49 Poetic Meditations for Counting the Omer or Turning Toward a New Year by ShifrahTobacman (2012)

Omer/Teshuvah collects Shifrah Tobacman’s poems for Counting the Omer, mindfully sanctifying the passage of time between Pesach and Shavuot — and, if you read the book from back to front, these poems can be used for the Omer Teshuvah, the 49 days between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah. These devotional poems will open your heart and spirit.

To view this book, < click here >

Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide by Rabbi Min Kantrowitz (2009)

A comprehensive guide that includes meditations on the Four Worlds each day in addition to moving through the sefirot. Extensive background information as well as daily exercises. Thorough and beautiful. Rabbi Min Kantrowitz is the Director of the Jewish Community Chaplaincy Program of Jewish Family Service of New Mexico, which provides spiritual support and pastoral care services to thousands of unaffiliated Jews. Rabbi Kantrowitz also directs the Albuquerque Community Chevre Kaddisha, facilitates grief support groups and conducts Healing Groups for Jewish survivors of domestic abuse. She received her Rabbinic Ordination in May 2004 from the Academy of Jewish Religion in Los Angeles. In addition, she holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Masters Degrees in Psychology, Architecture, and Rabbinic Studies, as well as a Masters of Science in Jewish Studies.

To view this  book, < click here >

Omer Counting Resources by Rabbi David Seidenberg

To view Rabbi David Seidenberg’s many, varied and inspired original resources for the Omer period, including his Omer widget (which you can sign up to receive each day, reminding you to count the Omer!),               < click here >

Counting the Omer: A Personal Journal by Rabbi Rami Shapiro (2001)

Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s downloadable Omer Journal with offerings each day, framing blank space, to inspire journalling and written exploration during the Omer period.

To download, < click here >

The 50th Gate: A Spirited Walk Through The Counting of The Omer by Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder (2010)

In 2010, Rabbi Gavriel Goldfeder introduced a new “Alternadox” flipbook. Using the same format as the classic flipbook by Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Goldfeder brings new life and broader perspectives to the journey of self-reflection.

To view this flipbook, < click here >

Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer by Rabbi Simon Jacobson (1996)

Modern classic flipbook – offering daily meditations, questions and exercises encouraging introspection based on the qualities of the seven lower sefirot. (“A practical guide to becoming great in 49 days.”) Also includes a brief overall description of the 49-Day Journey of Transformation, the sefirot and blessings for each day.

To view this flipbook, < click here >

Chabad website

Website that includes slightly abbreviated versions of Rabbi Simon Jacobson’s flipbook offerings as well as other Chabad Omer counting resources. To access website, < click here >

Omer Plant Paintings by Pauline Frankenberg

Beautiful Omer Counter  with 51 exquisite watercolors based on 49 plants mentioned in the Tanach. Amazing, amazing …

CLICK HERE

PHOTOS: Omer Prayer Sticks 5771 – in progress

    

PHOTO: Omer Prayers Sticks on Shavuot Altar 5771

            

PHOTOS: Closing Dance with Omer Pole on Shavuot 5771

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PHOTOS: Omer Pole Knots

PHOTOS: Omer Web Pole at Urban Adama 5771

PHOTOS: Omer Dancing Pole 5771

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PHOTOS: Crafting the Omer Dancing Pole with Chevruta 5771

Daily Omer Haiku 5771 by Yael Raff Peskin

7th DAY OF THE OMER 5771

MALCHUT -> CHESED

overflowing love

majestic culmination

omer immersion

8th DAY OF THE OMER 5771

CHESED -> GEVURAH

wilderness sojourn

awesome strength powered by love

held in tenderness

9th DAY OF OMER 5771

NORTH -> NORTH!

GEVURAH -> GEVURAH!

mystery of mysteries

rushing rivers of the soul

strengthened by great strength

10th DAY OF OMER 5771

EAST -> NORTH

TIFERET -> GEVURAH

spring winds blow sweetness

harmony dances through fields

inner strength finds us

12th DAY OF OMER 5771

DOWN -> NORTH

HOD -> GEVURAH

weakened body’s gifts

humbling experience

finding strength in awe

13th DAY OF OMER 5771

WEST -> NORTH (blending of mystery)

YESOD -> GEVURAH (bonding in strength)

solid foundations

unwavering commitments

rootedness, grounded

14th DAY OF OMER 5771

CENTER -> NORTH (complete being-ness w/in mystery)

MALCHUT -> GEVURAH (majesty w/in strength)

armloads of sunbeams

overflowing emptiness

hidden moon delight

15th DAY OF OMER 5771

SOUTH -> EAST (inner clarity/essential self within balance)

CHESED -> TIFERET (lovingkindness in beauty/harmony/compassion)

wellspring of kindness

soul searching is optional

we’re soaking in it

16th DAY OF OMER 5771

NORTH -> EAST (vision/mystery within balance)

GEVURAH -> TIFERET (focussed strength in compassion)

mysterious strength

energizing compassion

great soaring eagle

22nd DAY OF OMER 5771

SOUTH -> UP (inner clarity of the universal)

CHESED -> NETZACH (lovingkindness of endurance)

broken open hearts

jagged rocks offer footholds

loving the journey

23rd DAY OF OMER 5771

NORTH -> UP (mystery of the essential/universal)

GEVURAH -> NETZACH (strength/restraint in endurance)

emerging in awe

rivers crashing through mountains

wearing down boulders

24th DAY OF OMER 5771

EAST -> ABOVE (balance in the essential/universal)

TIFERET -> NETZACH (beauty/harmony/compassion in endurance)

sweetest connection

mother-daughter pedicures!

ready for long haul

28th DAY OF OMER 5771

CENTER -> ABOVE (fullness in the essential/universal)

MALCHUT -> NETZACH (majesty in endurance)

keep on keeping on

unimagined life journeys

beyond the beyond

29th DAY OF OMER 5771

SOUTH -> BELOW (inner clarity in rootedness)

CHESED -> HOD (lovingkindness in humility/interbeing)

sinking into light

embracing impermanence

prostrations of grace

30th DAY OF OMER 5771

NORTH -> BELOW (vision/mystery in rootedness)

GEVURAH -> HOD (power in humility/interbeing)

ancestors calling

public radio fund drives

jump in, dig down deep

31st DAY OF OMER 5771

EAST -> BELOW (balance in rootedness)

TIFERET -> HOD (beauty in humility/interbeing)

clean house, happy house

everything found its own place!

momentary bliss

34th DAY OF OMER 5771

WEST -> BELOW (blending in rootedness)

YESOD -> HOD (bonding in humility/interbeing)

only for myself?

what am I? if not now, when?

swimming in questions

35th DAY OF OMER 5771

CENTER -> BELOW (all in rootedness)

MALCHUT -> HOD (being-ness in humility/interbeing)

roses and redwoods

intertwining majesty

willow trees swaying

36th DAY OF OMER 5771

SOUTH -> WEST (essential self in blending)

CHESED -> YESOD (lovingkindness in bonding)

glittering treasures

ties that bind us together

twisting our way home

37th DAY OF OMER 5771

NORTH -> WEST (mystery in blending)

GEVURAH -> YESOD (strength/determination in bonding)

open to wonder

finding the path that’s been carved

clearing the brambles

44th DAY OF OMER 5771

NORTH -> CENTER (mystery in fullness)

GEVURAH -> MALCHUT (strength/determination in majesty)

courage taking flight

soaring through space and time

panoramic views

45th DAY OF OMER 5771

EAST -> CENTER (balance in fullness)

TIFERET -> MALCHUT (beauty/harmony in majesty)

spacious cloud-filled skies

spanning all generations

now is our moment

47th DAY OF OMER 5771

BELOW -> CENTER (rootedness in fullness)

HOD -> MALCHUT (humility/interbeing in majesty)

divine measured days

we are becoming always

taking hold of life

‎48th DAY OF OMER 5771

WEST -> CENTER (blending/healing in fullness)

YESOD -> MALCHUT (bonding in majesty)

low tide wiggle shells

starfish wedded to boulders

mussels huddle close

49th DAY OF OMER 5771 (thanks julie batz!)

CENTER -> CENTER (fullness in fullness)

MALCUT -> MALCHUT (majesty in majesty)

sh’ma yisroel

adonai eloheinu

adonai echad!

•   •   •

 

Omer Chants (with links to hear chants) by Shefa Gold

Below are eight chants by Rabbi Shefa Gold along with links to Shefa’s website so that you can hear Shefa offering these chants directly. The matching of the chants to each sefirah, as well as the selection of a chant that can be used each day of the Omer Period, was done by Chantleader Atzilah Ellen Solot and Yael Raff Peskin. 

On any given day during the Omer Period, three of these chants are offered:  Ivru/Breakthrough Chant,  Chant of the Week and Chant of the Day.

They can all be chanted together in the evening (or morning) when the Omer is counted, and/or throughout the day … bringing awareness back–again and again–to the qualities of the day, infusing each moment with an embodied experience of the Omer journey.

 


THROUGHOUT THE OMER PERIOD

Go through, go through the gates, clear the way of the people!

Ivru, ivru ba’sh’arim, panu derech ha’am

 TO HEAR SHEFA GOLD CHANT “BREAKTROUGH,”

<<  CLICK HERE  >>

 

DAY/WEEK ONE – CHESED

Happy are those that dwell in God’s House; they keep on praising!

Ashrei yoshvei veytecha od y’hal’lucha

TO HEAR SHEFA GOLD CHANT “ASHREI,”

<<  CLICK HERE  >> 


DAY/WEEK TWO – GEVURAH

My strength, my song, is Yah, who was for me a source of help.

Ozi v’zimrat yah vay’hi li l’shu’ah

TO HEAR SHEFA GOLD CHANT “MY STRENGTH,”

<<  CLICK HERE  >>

 

DAY/WEEK THREE – TIFERET

(God) makes everything beautiful in its time,

and also hides the universe in their hearts.   (Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3)

Et ha-kol asa yafeh b’ito,

gam et ha-olam natan b’libam

TO HEAR SHEFA GOLD CHANT “KNOWING BEAUTY &  FINDING THE UNIVERSE,”

<<  CLICK HERE  >>

 

DAY/WEEK FOUR – NETZACH

I will bless You with my very life; through Your Name I will raise my hands.  (Psalm 63:5)

Kayn avarech’cha v’chayai;  b’shimcha esa chapai

TO HEAR SHEFA GOLD CHANT “WITH MY LIFE,”

<<  CLICK HERE  >> 

 

DAY/WEEK FIVE – HOD

Oh God, show me my end, and what is the measure of my days?  (Psalm 39:5)

Hodiyani yah kitzi, u’midat yamai ma hi

TO HEAR SHEFA GOLD CHANT “INVITING OUR FUTURE SELVES,”

<<  CLICK HERE  >>

DAY/WEEK SIX – YESOD

You shall be Holy, for I am Holy.

K’doshim ti’h’yu ki kadosh ani

TO HEAR SHEFA GOLD CHANT “BECOMING HOLY,”

<< CLICK HERE  >> 


DAY/WEEK SEVEN – MALCHUT

Healing the World through the Majesty of Nurture.

L’takayn olam b’malchut shaddai

TO HEAR SHEFA GOLD CHANT “THE MAJESTY OF NURTURE,”

<<  CLICK HERE  >>

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