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Welcome from the Rabbi

 

Looking Forward – and Counting!

 

As you may think back when we were all younger, do you remember how in anticipation of a certain special day or event, that we used to so often count the upcoming days until the “great moment?” Somehow, it seems that with all of the stress of modern life, when we are so constantly bombarded by so many simultaneous crises arriving on the doorsteps of our individual and collective psyches, that we forget to look forward to upcoming exciting events with that same sense of excitement and anticipation as we did so often before, perhaps when we were younger. Yet, as Jews, every year after Pesach we are given that opportunity again.

Specifically, the period between Pesach and the upcoming pilgrimage festival of Shavuot, the festival of “weeks”, is called the period of the Omer. That is because on the second day of Pesach, they would ceremonially wave a sheaf of barley, which remains an important agricultural crop to this day. They would then go on to count each and every day between that day and the holiday of Shavuot, making a total of 49 counting days, after which on the 50th day the festival of Shavuot would begin. For us, we associate the festival of Shavuot with the giving and receiving of the Torah, and the reunification of the spirit of fidelity between us and God, much like a marriage partnership. Thus, in the counting of the days between Passover and Shavuot, it is as if we are remembering that we are (or hope to be) in a constant state of love with and for God, in appreciation of all that we have, not the least of which is the gift of life itself; therefore, each and every day counted in anticipation of that great moment of celebration and collective reunion needs to be very special in our hearts and minds.

If you think about it, without the gift of Torah and its accompanying teachings, we would have little if anything to guide us on our life journeys as we navigate so many of life’s choices and quandaries. Just what should our priorities be, and how do we make choices amongst many options? The Torah gives us a reliable guide amidst its interconnected value constructs, and as such, we need to continually appreciate the counting of every day which brings us closer to that realization. Let us therefore be inspired continually by the words of the Psalmist: “Teach us therefore to count our days, that we may acquire hearts of wisdom.”

 

 — Rabbi David Barnett

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CBA Pages & Pastries Book Club
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'The Sacrifice of Tamar'
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lessons from 1 PM to 3 PM.
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