It’s the week of Passover. We’ve had the Seder, we’re eating the matzah. Now what?
I’ve never done this before but this year I am counting the Omer. From my recent understanding, this refers to the 49 days from the second night of Passover, the Jews’ freedom from slavery… TO … the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai and the now holiday of Shavuot.
One popular commentary explains it this way. The Jewish people suffered horribly as slaves physically, emotionally and spiritually. Their children were murdered, they were worked to breaking point and beaten, and for many, almost all hope was lost. Once the spectacular “Exodus” occurred, the Jewish people went forth through the desert for 49 days. On the 50th day… they received:
The Ten Commandments and the Torah from G-d!
A direct encounter with the Holy One!!
Were they ready for such a lofty experience? That’s about as big as it gets. So during these 49 days, each day, the people grew spiritually. Until the last of these days, G-d appeared.
Today we are advised by the great Torah teachers to also use this time, like our ancestors, to grow spiritually and emotionally. Each day as we count, we are to become a little kinder, stronger, wiser.
But what’s supposed to happen on day 50 in our 21st century?
We are preparing… for… for what? The Jews 3300 plus years ago heard G-d speak! What’s our equivalent? What are my expectations?
It’s not an easy question of course. Here’s my answer for today.
My personal faith is strong. I went from a lifetime of hoping G-d didn’t exist to now having an exquisitely loving, personal, and awe-filled relationship with my Creator. Yet, I have gaps.
“Little things.” Like if someone says something like G-d came down and gave the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, I might wonder, “Really?” “How did that happen?” It seems a little extreme to me.
Then… I remind myself… I believe this Creator created the whole enchilada!! The earth, the galaxies, the animals, us human beings, the seas and each blade of grass. G-d cares about every one of us, and all “things” infinitely.
Yet… I find it far fetched that the Holy One, Blessed be He, would or could meet with us humans directly. I see a bit of a funny illogic in my thinking.
For this Shavuot, (the 50th day and the giving of the Ten Commandments), I endeavor to let my heart and soul be opened. To stop limiting myself to what my logical mind tells me is probable.
At the least, I am willing to suspend judgement. For the “at most”, I won’t put up a ceiling. I have a dear friend whose faith in Mount Sinai is rich and full. Yet, she enjoys hearing about and growing from my personal love and trust in G-d. It’s so interesting how we can all grow and learn from each other. Perhaps that’s a piece of this.
When it comes to loving G-d, Torah or people, what is most important? The answer I’ve been taught is “loving people”. G-d wants us to love what he loves. So, please forgive me as I work this out.
Maybe the bigger 21st Century “Mount Sinai” is to see how much we each have to learn and grow from each other.
Perhaps my Mount Sinai in year 2021 is to see, at deeper and deeper levels, the “face of G-d” in you. In every you.
I can’t go further than this simple possibility.
I’ll throw a little quirky in before signing off.
I told my son Kobi that I’m currently packing for my hopefully several month long trip to Israel. Unfortunately, the borders to Israel are currently closed to non-citizens. Kobi joked that I’m getting my tambourine “ready”. This references my last story “AND THE WOMEN DANCED”, where the women, as they were escaping Egypt, grabbed their tambourines. They were ready to celebrate that G-d would bring miracles and redeem them even as they were being chased by soldiers, and freedom seemed impossible.
I have many tambourines. Actually many many percussion instruments. Understand I am not a “percussionist”. About five years ago, I got word that this lovely drum lady was selling all her instruments because she was sizing down and moving. They were a good price and quality. Why, I ask, did I buy them?
I don’t know. 😳
But here they are.
I’ll take one of the tambourines and leave it by the door.
Now I can smile, ©
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A SPIRITUAL GUIDE TO THE COUNTING OF THE OMER by Simon Jacobson in Chabad.org: An accessible (49) day-by-day guide.
Lion Cover Photo by Sarah Richter, Woman with Matzah Photo by Ri Butov, Percussion courtesy of Vivi’s collection 🙂