Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sefirat HaOmer

Today (Wednesday) is the first day of the counting of the Omer. On Pesach, we experienced an enormous illumination from above. On the way to Shavuot, we proceed day by day, building our spiritual capacity to receive the Torah through our own merit. Hashem's love for us is so great that in addition to showering us with His infinite blessings and light from above during the holiest moments of the year, He truly desires to merge His infinite capacities with our finite makeup, such that we cultivate awareness, holiness and spiritual vessels exactly in the place where we find ourselves, creating channels for the infinite to dwell within the finite.

Each of the seven weeks of the Omer represents one of the seven intermediate 'sefirot' (aspects of Hashem; from the same root as the Hebrew word 'to count'). This week is the sefira of chesed - lovingkindness. Each of the days of the week represents an aspect of the divine attribute of chesed - the chesed in chesed, the gevurah (strength) of chesed, the tiferet (harmony, balance, beauty) of chesed, and so on. With Hashem's help we'll post insights into the divine attributes and other meanings associated with each week of the omer.

According to Rebbe Nachman (Likkutei Halachot, Sefirat Haomer), the waving of the omer (a ritual to be conducted at the Temple during this time) represents the search for the divine presence throughout the myriad of moments of our lives and external manifestations in the world. After the first day of Pesach, the intense revelation of Hashem's essence vanishes, and it is up to us to search Him out everywhere. According to Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, by counting the days, we are called upon to see the unity within the multitude.

Lucky enough for us, technology and counting the omer a match made in heaven: Add an omer counter to your site (see right banner), or download the Omer Counter iPhone app, or if you're in the US, just text the name of your cell phone company for a daily reminder. For the blessing to count the Omer see here.

Moadim L'Simcha! 

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