Fifty days (and ways) to meet your Lover
Make a new plan, Stan.
While Paul Simon sang of this and 49 other ways to leave your lover, this coming Tuesday night begins a period of time when Jews begin counting the ways to draw nearer to God, one day at a time. Seven complete weeks of counting, beginning with Day One at our second seder, brings us to the celebration of Shavuot on Day Fifty, the day we stood with God at Sinai, as if (as our sages imagined) beneath a bridal canopy.
Our mystics have assigned special qualities to each one of these days, and each quality is meant to explore another aspect of our relationship with God. Personally, if I were away from the one I loved, I would count down with each passing day until the day I am reunited with my love. That, however, is the very point of counting up! We are not wishing days away. Each day presents another opportunity to add another dimension–to offer another gift–to the relationship that we share with God. Each day is another bauble we add to the collection of treasures that reminds us of the courtship that began the day we left Egypt and headed for the Promised Land. The fifty days represent fifty ways to meet our Lover. What started centuries ago as the gift of a measure of grain (an omer) for the priesthood each day has evolved into a personal exercise in mindfulness.
So get off the bus of your daily routine, Gus! Download an Omer counter app for your phone! I’ve even provided a link for you (click here) to a fun way to track the days of the Omer. Count each day with the blessing “Baruch atah adonay eloheynu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al sefirat ha’omer” when the stars come out, and make each day count as a blessing. If you miss an evening, you can still count during the day that follows. But If you miss an entire day (evening and the day that follows) of counting, then you don’t get to say the blessing anymore! The blessing is only said with each evening’s counting so long as you haven’t skipped a day.
Such is love. It requires commitment, obligation and constancy. It also, however, makes us feel valued and valuable. It gives us comfort and security. It inspires us to strive to be our best selves. It motivates us to show gratitude and to express ourselves through words and deeds that we didn’t know we even possessed. Start on Tuesday night at the end of your second seder, and get yourself free.
Chag kasher v’sameach,
Rabbi Craig Scheff