And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering-the day after the Shabbat – you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: you must count until the day after the seventh week – fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to Adonai. – (Leviticus 23:15-16)
It is just after the Passover Seder that we begin the count-up to Shavuot, when, according to our Biblical tradition, we bring our first fruits, and according to our Rabbinic tradition, we received Torah at Sinai. It could be seen as a count-up from physical liberation (the Exodus story told in Passover) to spiritual liberation (the receiving of the commandments on Shavuot).
Though we can’t help but be on a journey from one point to the next at any given moment in our lives, this time of year invites us to dedicate ourselves as mindful observers of our travelling through space and time and to notice the changes and missions we take upon ourselves, the gatherings we add to our baggage, as well as those we let go of on our quest for growth and evolution, both physically and spiritually.
The period of counting does not happen in a vacuum. Over the 49 days and according to the Jewish calendar we commemorate the Exodus story and the formation of the Jewish people according to Biblical tradition (Passover), the formation and Independence of the modern State of Israel (Yom Ha’atzmaut), Israel’s fallen soldiers (Yom HaZikaron), the celebration of Jerusalem (Yom Yerushalaim), the receiving of the Torah at mount Sinai (Shavuot) and lastly Pride Weekend.
What a gorgeous way to be travelling to ancient past events upon which Jewish culture is founded, then back to more recent events that have changed Jewish lives and identities forever and onward to the unknown that lies in the future that we pray and hope for to be filled with peace, justice and redemption during our Pride celebrations.
As a community, we utilize those milestones to reflect and meditate on how we’ve reached the place we’re at, we celebrate the fruits of our experiences and brainstorm about where we want to go next. We’re reminded, that the impact of some past events is still part of our collective journey (and might always be so) and we recognize the vitality of leaning on past experiences in order to look hopefully towards the future. Join us for our Israeli themed Shabbat service on May 13, and later our Pride Shabbat, Shavuot celebration and Pride interfaith service (June 10-12) to delve into what’s part of our collective journey.
Individual daily reflections posted by members of BCC’s Ritual Committee can be found on the BCC website and will hopefully inspire you to take in your individual journey with awe and appreciation.
May this year’s Counting of the Omer bring us one step closer to full liberation of bodies and souls and may our intentional contemplation raise our awareness on the interconnectedness of mind, body, the human community and the world at large. Safe travels!