Nisan 5778 / March 2018
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 the 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 omer is 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 omer is that we are drawing the particular energy of the upper worlds (where we begin our counting) down towards the world of our everyday life. At this moment in history this seems especially welcome. So this year for each day of the omer I will suggest a practice that might help us to meet the challenges of our political and social world with holy energy and focus.
The tradition is to count the omer in 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 omer begins at sunset on Monday night, April 9, and it continues until sunset on April 10. This particular year, every week of the omer starts 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 try some different ways to bring kindness into the world.
DAY ONE — 3/31 HESED of HESED — Do a generous act for someone who will never know that you did it.
DAY TWO — 4/1 GEVURAH of HESED — Contemplate the limits of your compassion for people who see the world differently than you do.
DAY THREE — 4/2 TIFERET of HESED — Express something you believe in a way which is generous in spirit.
DAY FOUR — 4/3 NETZACH of HESED — In a place where people (or other creatures) are being treated poorly, bring a compassionate spirit to bear.
DAY FIVE — 4/4 HOD of HESED — Reflect on what you don’t know about how the world should be.
DAY SIX — 4/5 YESOD of HESED — Contemplate the possibility that there is goodness in the universe which is greater than any momentary wrongdoing.
DAY SEVEN — 4/6 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of HESED — Share Shabbat rest with someone who is isolated or discriminated against.
The week of GEVURAH— strength, rigor. This week we explore limits, boundaries, differentiations.
DAY EIGHT — 4/7 HESED of GEVURAH — Hope that your commitment to justice may bring good even to people who disagree with you.
DAY NINE — 4/8 GEVURAH of GEVURAH — Take a strong stand on a matter you care about.
DAY TEN — 4/9 TIFERET of GEVURAH — Think about all sides of an issue you feel strongly about.
DAY ELEVEN — 4/10 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 — 4/11 HOD of GEVURAH — Really deeply consider that someone you disagree with may have a point.
DAY THIRTEEN — 4/12 YESOD of GEVURAH — Contemplate the source(s) of your strength to do good.
DAY FOURTEEN — 4/13 (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 — 4/14 HESED of TIFERET — Bring beauty to a painful place.
DAY SIXTEEN — 4/15 GEVURAH of TIFERET — Write, draw, sing, dance, cook about something you want to be better in the world.
DAY SEVENTEEN — 4/16 TIFERET of TIFERET — Think about those activists you admire who speak out with grace, elegance and flair.
DAY EIGHTEEN — 4/17 NETZACH of TIFERET — Post a sign, wear a t-shirt or otherwise put your vision out where people can see it.
DAY NINETEEN — 4/18 HOD of TIFERET — Look at someone else’s expression of truth and see the beauty in it, even if you disagree.
DAY TWENTY — 4/19 YESOD of TIFERET — Think about balance in public affairs, the way that things move one way and then the opposite way.
DAY TWENTY-ONE — 4/20 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of TIFERET — Pray in a beautiful way for peace.
The week of NETZACH — power, conquest. This week we use our energy to accomplish good.
DAY TWENTY-TWO — 4/21 HESED of NETZACH — Bring extra kindness to wherever you work for justice.
DAY TWENTY-THREE — 4/22 GEVURAH of NETZACH — Think about what you need to do to stay committed to work you believe in.
DAY TWENTY-FOUR — 4/23 TIFERET of NETZACH — Discern whether more or less of your energy energy is called for in a situation.
DAY TWENTY-FIVE — 4/24 NETZACH of NETZACH — Struggle mightily against an injustice.
DAY TWENTY-SIX — 4/25 HOD of NETZACH — Let someone else take the lead.
DAY TWENTY-SEVEN — 4/26 YESOD of NETZACH — Take the long view — contemplate that long arc bending towards justice.
DAY TWENTY-EIGHT — 4/27 (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 — 4/28 HESED of HOD — Thank someone for the work they do in the world.
DAY THIRTY — 4/29 GEVURAH of HOD — Be honest with yourself (and maybe with someone else) about the limits of your way of seeing things.
DAY THIRTY-ONE — 4/30 TIFERET of HOD — Graciously allow someone else to have their way.
DAY THIRTY-TWO — 5/1 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) — 5/2 HOD of HOD — Bow before what you cannot change.
DAY THIRTY-FOUR — 5/3 YESOD of HOD — Think about how much of your life is built on the vision and struggle of others.
DAY THIRTY-FIVE — 5/4 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of HOD — Allow gratitude to overtake negativity.
The week of YESOD — foundation, blueprint, plan. This week we note and explore the web of relationships in which we live.
DAY THIRTY-SIX — 5/5 HESED of YESOD — Contemplate the web of generosity which makes your own daily life work as well as it does.
DAY THIRTY-SEVEN — 5/6 GEVURAH of YESOD — Strategize for the future in your work for justice and well-being.
DAY THIRTY-EIGHT — 5/7 TIFERET of YESOD — Remember that we need bread AND roses in all that we strive for.
DAY THIRTY-NINE — 5/8 NETZACH of YESOD — Think of an institution that you rely on and do something to strengthen it.
DAY FORTY — 5/9 HOD of YESOD — Honor someone doing a piece of good work in the world that you don’t contribute to yourself.
DAY FORTY-ONE — 5/10 YESOD of YESOD — Contemplate the natural order that sustains us all.
DAY FORTY-TWO — 5/11 (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 — 5/12 HESED of MALCHUT — Do something kind where it is needed.
DAY FORTY-FOUR — 5/13 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 — 5/14 TIFERET of MALCHUT — Beautify something ugly (or appreciate it’s ugliness!)
DAY FORTY-SIX — 5/15 NETZACH of MALCHUT — Be practical in your political action.
DAY FORTY-SEVEN — 5/16 HOD of MALCHUT — Recognize that you are contributing to good in the world, even if you don’t see success.
DAY FORTY-EIGHT — 5/17 YESOD of MALCHUT — Take hold of your calendar so you have a little more time to do important work in the world.
DAY FORTY-NINE — 5/18 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of MALCHUT — Eat, drink, bathe, and do other daily things with delight.
SHAVUOT — 5/19-20 (Tikkun Leil Shavuot will be on the night of 5/19)
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.