Monday, March 30, 2015

Sefirat Ha'Omer, Counting the Omer Tips

Jews are supposed to "count the Omer."

"What's that?" you ask.
In the Jewish Tradition, the term “Sefirah” also has a specific meaning, and refers to a count of the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot: between the Festival of “Physical Redemption” and the Festival of “Spiritual Redemption.”
On Pesach, the Jewish People were redeemed from a terrible period of physical slavery in the “House of Bondage” of Egypt. On Shavuot, which commemorates G-d’s giving His precious gift, the Torah, to the Jewish People at Mt. Sinai, we celebrate our going from Spiritual Slavery to Spiritual Freedom. (OU)
Those are the forty-nine 49 days from the second night of Passover until just before Shavuot.

Hmmm... you may be thinking.

"What's Shavuot?"
“And it was on the third day, as it became morning, and there was thunder and lightning, and a thick cloud on the mountain, and the sound of the Shofar was very strong, and all the people in the camp were seized with trembling” (Shemot 19:16)
One of the Three “Regalim”
Along with Pesach (Passover) and Sukkot, Shavuot is one of the Three “Pilgrim Festivals” on which Jewish families, especially the males, who are freer to leave at specific times, such as the times of these holidays, and are not charged as much with the responsibilities of the home and the raising of children, are commanded to appear at the Temple in Jerusalem. (OU)
Well, Passover is the Holiday commemorating our leaving the slavery to Pharoah in Egypt, and Shavuot is the Holiday commemorating our receiving the LAW, usually pictured as the Ten Commandments, from G-d at Mount Sinai.

To help us connect these two Holy Days, we are supposed to count every night, the days and then the weeks, until we reach seven weeks, seven periods of seven.

Now, that is not as easy as it may seem. I used to forget very early in the period of those 49 days. That is until I began to get a reminder on my cell phone. I also have signed up for email reminders. They help on all nights but the last Holiday night of Passover and Lail Shabbat, Friday nights. Nowadays I set up my own "reminder," alarm on my phone. When I hear the alarm go off in the evening, after dark, I then do the count. To check which number, I can then look at the email reminder if I'm not on the computer.

My pre-smartphone cellphone blasted alarms even when off, which was great for Sefirat Ha'omer, but since I turn off my phone for Shabbat, Friday night is still problematic. There are synagogues that remind people during morning prayers so a day won't be missed.

G-d willing, I'll somehow remember. What's your trick?

1, 2, 3... 49!

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