How many days has it been? I’ve lost count. No, during this time period, that is one phrase we cannot use. Counting the Omer keeps us counting, and since I do not know when you will read this, I will not give a number, but you can Google it and learn a lot more about this ritual of counting the days between Passover and Shavuot.
As a teacher of multiple age groups and differing Jewish knowledge (plus lack of knowledge), I continue to look for many ways to answer questions posed — there is often more than one answer, and the answer must resonate with the individual. So I have been searching to find more meaning in the counting of the Omer. A new book by former Sen. Joe Lieberman is titled With Liberty and Justice — the Fifty-Day Journey from Egypt to Sinai. I’m reading through the days but want to offer insight from Day 2, perhaps to get you counting:
“Every year, for over three thousand years, Jews have counted the days and weeks that lead from Passover, the Festival of Liberation, to Shavuot, the Festival of the Giving of the Law. Passover is only the first act in the drama. Unfortunately, despite the appeal and success of the Passover ‘production,’ most people do not remain for the second act: Shavuot. They leave the theatre, as it were, before the entire story has been told, missing the point of the annual journey from slavery in Egypt to the Law at Sinai.”
The message way back in leaving Egypt was that you can’t have freedom without law — justice combines liberty and law. As just as the Israelites back then had to struggle in the journey to get to Sinai, that struggle of understanding continues. One of the best midrashim of leaving Egypt is about Moses and the people standing at the Red Sea. The story goes that Moses puts his staff in the water and nothing happens until one brave man, Nachshon, steps into the water and shows faith that all will be well. Taking that step with the faith that goes along with it is a step that many are afraid to take, but we learn that you can’t be free without a lot of work AND a lot of faith.
I can’t wait to read all 50 “days” in Lieberman’s book, but I am pacing myself as I count the days (I also have an app on my phone that helps with the daily count). How you prepare for Shavuot is not important — to continue walking each day and learning each day is what matters.
How you count the Omer doesn’t matter: Just learn