The Omer in Verse (49 lines for 49 days)

This is a time   
of counting      
Not a holy day
or a week-long festival,
but a season -
a season for counting
it was about the grain;
            about the priests;
            about counting from one harvest
            to the next
A season full of anxiety and hope
            anxiety because the prosperity of the year was at stake -
            their hopes rose and fell with the size of the reap
Then the world changed
and new leaders rose from the ashes
and with no more Temple, and no more sacrifices,
new meaning had to be found
            Festival of First Fruits became
            Festival of Giving and Receiving Torah
No longer counting the days from one harvest
to the next,
now it was about a journey -
            from slavery to freedom;
            from political liberation to
            spiritual revelation 
This counting, more relevant
to city-dwellers and the rabbis who
led them 
No longer dependent on the spring harvest,
their focus shifted
and counting took on a mournful tone
as they lamented what was lost
even as they reinterpreted
what they could salvage
As the world changed and changed again
the spiritual resonance of the counting 
and the focus shifted once more
            from national revelation
            to personal revelation
We count, now, toward our own self-improvement
49 days of self-scrutiny;
49 days of reflection on how to emulate
The Divine;
            49 days to get ourselves out of our own personal Egypt
and move through our own spiritual journey;
To find our own Torah,
and carry it toward freedom. 
-      Rabbi Emma Gottlieb (2019)
Scroll to Top