(begins Saturday evening April 20, 2019, after sundown)
of the journey. This week’s kavannah (intention)
at the journey’s beginning is
Every journey begins with a call: the moment when we become aware. Whether the “call” is internal or external, quiet or quite loud, there are moments in our lives when we actually wake up. For the Israelites in Egypt, after 400 years of slavery, a new Pharaoh came into power and suddenly, they realized the burden of their oppression. They groaned; they cried out. And thus, their journey to freedom began.
The Passover seder is a night of questions. In the Torah as well, at the beginning, God poses the first question to Adam and Eve after they ate forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. “Ayeka?” God asked them. “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Instead of answering, our ancestors, the first humans, offered excuses and hid.
Rabbinic commentators teach that God was not asking a question of location but, rather, attempting to engage them in a conversation about their existential condition. “Where are you, really?” we might say. In their hiding, Adam and Eve remained unaware. What about us?
In The Thirteen Petalled Rose, Adin Steinsaltz comments on the voice in the garden and brings us into the story as well. He writes, “The voice in the garden is still reverberating throughout the world and it is still heard, not always openly, or in full consciousness but nevertheless, still heard in one way or another, in a person’s soul. … To anyone, at any time whatever, the question may be flung: where are you?” (emphasis added)
The question to each one of us on this first day of the Omer is, “Ayeka?” Where are you? First we consider: do we hear the call and the question? Are we listening? Second, we look within: Are we willing to answer the call addressing us in this moment? Today is an opportunity to check-in and listen.
What is stirring inside of you that brings you to this journey right now? Where are you now? What truths do you bring with you as this journey begins?
Blessing for Counting the Omer:
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer.
Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Holy One of Blessing, who makes us holy with sacred obligations and commands us to count the Omer.
Counting: Today is the first day of the Omer: Hayom yom echad la’omer.
Blessings to you on this new day. We are delighted to journey together.
Rabbi Cindy Enger and Rabbi Jill Zimmerman
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*For more information on what the “Omer” is and why we “journey” and how we “count”, click here