During the time the Temple in Jerusalem stood, on the second day of Passover the Omer, an offering of barley, was brought after which the new crop of grain could be eaten. Today, we commemorate the Omer through a practice known as Sefiras HaOmer, Counting the Omer. It lasts for forty-nine days. A period of semi-mourning, during this time 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva’s students died due to their lack of unity. The day after the count ends is Shavuos, the anniversary of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
In the course of this seven-week period five events take place: Yom Hashoah, a remembrance day for the Holocaust; Yom HaZikaron, the Memorial Day for those who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel; Yom HaAtzmut, Israeli Independence Day; Lag BaOmer, a break in the semi-mourning observed during the Counting; and Yom Yerushalayim, the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
Counting the Omer is a very powerful tool for self-renewal. Each week has as its theme a character trait on which we work. The first week is dedicated to Chesed, loving-kindness. For the seven days of the week, we work on attributes of this quality. The first day is pure loving-kindness. The second day is loving-kindness balanced by Gevurah, justice and discipline. The third is loving-kindness enhanced by Tiferes, harmony and compassion. The fourth is Netzach, endurance in loving-kindness. Day five is Hod, humility in loving-kindness. Day six is Yesod, bonding through loving-kindness. And the seventh day is loving-kindness in Malchus, sovereignty and leadership. Succeeding weeks follow this pattern.
We should be very intentional about practicing each trait each day of the count. To help I have created a worksheet so you can see the characteristic on which you should work. Each day fill in the task you did so you can keep track of your progress. Please click here to get the worksheet: CountingOmer
We can make the world a better place by improving ourselves. But expecting our characters to develop without purposely changing our behavior only leads to frustration. Counting the Omer gives us the opportunity to elevate our spirits while having a positive impact on those around us. Indeed is this not that for which Our Creator yearns?
Question – When you decide you want to change your behavior what steps do you take to do so?
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