Rabbi David Walk
We rabbi types are always saying that this week or this time period is the most important of the year. We say it so often that we can lose our credibility. It's the rabbinic equivalent of crying wolf. So, it is with incredible foolishness that I proudly claim that this is the most important time of the year. These seven weeks from the exodus to the epiphany were truly momentous for the Jews of the desert and remain critical for Jewish awareness and development. This significance continues into the modern era as we commemorate both the Holocaust and the birth of
To begin this analysis, I must ask the seemingly irrelevant question: What do Counting the Omer and Paul Simon have in common? Okay, I'll give you a couple of seconds to digest and respond to that unexpected query. As Simon (sans Garfunkle, sniff!) so poetically expressed: "The problem is all inside your head", she said to me. The answer is easy if you take it logically. I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free. There must be fifty ways to leave your lover!! Why must there be exactly fifty ways to depart from a long standing relationship? Well, Paul Simon presciently understood the Sefirat Ha'Omer period. It's no accident that Shavuot and the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai are exactly fifty days after the departure from
I know some of us have trouble just getting through the count successful, but shouldn't we want to get more out of this activity? Assuming that each day of the Omer count represents another way of leaving the
I believe that there was a more mainstream attempt to make these weeks religiously meaningful, which has been going on for centuries. At least since Reb Saadiah Gaon (10th century), people have been studying Pirkei Avot or Ethics of our Fathers every Shabbat during these seven weeks. The rabbis wanted us to use this inspiring material to make the necessary changes in ourselves during this crucial time of the year. I could choose any of dozens of sayings to make this point, but I think that there is one statement in the second chapter, which we read this week, that forcefully develops this idea of personal growth.
The second chapter of Pirkei Avot begins with the following assertion: Rabbi
The central idea in this Mishneh is that our behavior should simultaneously make me feel good about myself, while inspiring others as well. Rabbi
So, during this season while we look outside and see the beautiful, new growth of the flowers and trees, it should remind us to grow and develop ourselves, as well. Every spring brings a renewal in nature, why not in me? Why can't my religious life mirror the splendor of the spring, and inspire and influence others. Let's use this year's Omer period to become the best we can.
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