Nisan 5779 / April 2019
Every year I try to pay attention to the omer, the period of 49 days between [the second day of] Passover and Shavuot. It is supposed to be a journeying time, a time of introspection and preparation for the sublime experience of Mount Sinai. In Torah we are told to count these days.
The blessing for counting the omer is:
ברוך אתא יי אלהינו מלך העולם
אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצונו על ספירת האומר
היום יום [#] של האומר
Ba-ruch a-ta ADONAI el-o-hei-nu mel-ech ha-olam
a-sher kid-sha-nu b-mitz-vo-tav v-tzi-va-nu
AL SFI-RAT HA-O-MER
Ha-yom yom [number] shel ha-omer.
Blessed is God, the Source of All
Who has given us the sacred obligation
to count the omer.
Today is the [number] day of the omer.
The kabbalists gave us the practice of counting by attending to seven sefirot, aspects of the Tree of Life. In this system, each week of the omeris associated with one of the sefirot; and each day within the week is also associated with a sefirah. So each day has two aspects: the weekly aspect and the daily aspect. The combination of these can guide our experience of that day.
One way to think about counting the omeris that we are drawing the holy energy of the upper worlds (where we begin our counting) down towards the world of our everyday life. This year I have tried to think of practices that will draw down a spirit of hopeful resilience, even as we face challenges in our own lives and in our hurting world.
The tradition is to count the omerin the evening, at the very beginning of the day (which begins at sundown.) So I have put the evening dates for each day of the omer.For example, the tenth day of the omerbegins at sunset on Monday night, April 29, and it continues until sunset on April 30. This particular year, every week of the omerstarts on Saturday night and takes us through the following Shabbat, which is a nice symmetry.
With love, Margaret
The week of HESED— compassion, kindness, flowing love. This week we will notice kindness and generosity in the fabric of our lives.
DAY ONE — 4/20 HESED of HESED — Notice kindness everywhere.
DAY TWO — 4/21 GEVURAH of HESED — Honor your own limits.
DAY THREE — 4/22 TIFERET of HESED — Look for graciousness.
DAY FOUR — 4/23 NETZACH of HESED — Look for generosity and kindness in an unexpected place.
DAY FIVE — 4/24 HOD of HESED — Try to find the tiniest possible evidence of generosity in the world around you.
DAY SIX — 4/25 YESOD of HESED — Contemplate the possibility that there is goodness in the universe which is greater than any possible wrongdoing.
DAY SEVEN — 4/26 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of HESED — Experience at least a moment of Shabbat rest as though the world were completely perfect as it is.
The week of GEVURAH— strength, rigor, boundaries. This week we will explore standing firm.
DAY EIGHT — 4/27 HESED of GEVURAH — Appreciate your own strength.
DAY NINE — 4/28 GEVURAH of GEVURAH — Take a strong stand on a matter you care about.
DAY TEN — 4/29 TIFERET of GEVURAH — Notice someone standing firm in a graceful way.
DAY ELEVEN — 4/30 NETZACH of GEVURAH — Think about an important piece of work that you don’t have energy or skills to do and affirm that you will not take it on.
DAY TWELVE — 5/1 HOD of GEVURAH — Really deeply consider that someone you disagree with may have a point.
DAY THIRTEEN — 5/2 YESOD of GEVURAH — Contemplate the source(s) of your strength to do good.
DAY FOURTEEN — 5/3 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of GEVURAH — Name, bless and honor some of your heroes of justice.
The week of TIFERET-– beauty, balance. This week we look for ways to elevate and center what we do and perceive.
DAY FIFTEEN — 5/4 HESED of TIFERET — Contemplate the beauty of an act of compassion.
DAY SIXTEEN — 5/5 GEVURAH of TIFERET –Try to bring something out-of-balance into better balance.
DAY SEVENTEEN — 5/6 TIFERET of TIFERET — Immerse yourself in beauty.
DAY EIGHTEEN — 5/7 NETZACH of TIFERET — Bring something beautiful into the world.
DAY NINETEEN — 5/8 HOD of TIFERET — Look at someone else’s expression of truth and see the beauty in it, even if you disagree.
DAY TWENTY — 5/9 YESOD of TIFERET — Contemplate balance in history and public affairs, the way that things move one way and then the opposite way.
DAY TWENTY-ONE — 5/10 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of TIFERET — Pray in a beautiful way for peace.
The week of NETZACH— power, conquest. This week we explore our agency, our capacity to make things happen.
DAY TWENTY-TWO — 5/11 HESED of NETZACH — Bring extra kindness to wherever you are today.
DAY TWENTY-THREE — 5/12 GEVURAH of NETZACH — Think about what you need to do to stay committed to work you believe in.
DAY TWENTY-FOUR — 5/13 TIFERET of NETZACH — Discern whether more or less of your energy energy is called for in a situation.
DAY TWENTY-FIVE — 5/14 NETZACH of NETZACH — Struggle mightily for something you care about, even just for a minute.
DAY TWENTY-SIX — 5/15 HOD of NETZACH — Let someone else take the lead.
DAY TWENTY-SEVEN — 5/16 YESOD of NETZACH — Reflect on what is “yours” to do in this world.
DAY TWENTY-EIGHT — 5/17 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of NETZACH — Allow your passion to change the world to take a rest.
The week of HOD — thankfulness, surrender, humility. This week we express gratitude, praise and deference.
DAY TWENTY-NINE — 5/18 HESED of HOD — Thank someone for the work they do in the world.
DAY THIRTY — 5/19 GEVURAH of HOD — Be honest with yourself (and maybe with someone else) about the limits of your way of seeing things.
DAY THIRTY-ONE — 5/20 TIFERET of HOD — Graciously allow someone else to have their way.
DAY THIRTY-TWO — 5/21 NETZACH of HOD — Think of someone who humbly and quietly changes the world (or your own part of the world)
DAY THIRTY-THREE (LAG B’OMER) — 5/22 HOD of HOD — Bow before what you cannot change.
DAY THIRTY-FOUR — 5/23 YESOD of HOD — Reflect on how much of your life is built on the vision and struggle of others.
DAY THIRTY-FIVE — 5/24 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of HOD — Allow gratitude to overtake negativity.
The week of YESOD— foundation, blueprint, plan. This week we note and explore the “big picture” and our place within that Whole.
DAY THIRTY-SIX — 5/25 HESED of YESOD — Contemplate the web of generosity which makes your own daily life work as well as it does.
DAY THIRTY-SEVEN — 5/26 GEVURAH of YESOD — Make a plan about something which is important to you.
DAY THIRTY-EIGHT — 5/27 TIFERET of YESOD — Contemplate some of the larger forces that brought you to where you are in life today.
DAY THIRTY-NINE — 5/28 NETZACH of YESOD — Think of something which sustains you and do something to strengthen it.
DAY FORTY — 5/29 HOD of YESOD — Honor someone doing a piece of good work in the world that you don’t contribute to yourself.
DAY FORTY-ONE — 5/30 YESOD of YESOD — Contemplate and bless the natural order that sustains us all.
DAY FORTY-TWO — 5/31 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of YESOD — Rest in what is.
The week of MALCHUT— the present moment, this world. This week we act on the material plane.
DAY FORTY-THREE — 6/1 HESED of MALCHUT — Do something kind where it is needed.
DAY FORTY-FOUR — 6/2 GEVURAH of MALCHUT — Commit to using less plastic, buying local, driving less — start something you’ve been promising to do “someday” for the good of the world.
DAY FORTY-FIVE — 6/3 TIFERET of MALCHUT — Beautify something ugly (or appreciate it’s ugliness!)
DAY FORTY-SIX — 6/4 NETZACH of MALCHUT — Do something practical.
DAY FORTY-SEVEN — 6/5 HOD of MALCHUT — Recognize that you are contributing to good in the world, even if you don’t see success.
DAY FORTY-EIGHT — 6/6 YESOD of MALCHUT — Contemplate your schedule, how you spend your time and, if it feels warranted, try to make a change there.
DAY FORTY-NINE — 6/7 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of MALCHUT — Eat, drink, bathe, and do other daily things with delight.
SHAVUOT — 6/8-9 (Tikkun Leil Shavuot will be on the night of 6/8.)
Click to see Rabbi Margaret’s Omer Calendars from previous years:
To view traditional guidelines for Counting the Omer, click here.
To view clear descriptions and complete blessings for counting the Omer, including Lam’Nazeiach and Ana B’Choach, click here.