Journey of the Soul: Making the Omer Count 2015** Day 33
As evening falls, we may notice that as the sun sets, we, too, move into a new mode. We have been working so hard, haven’t we? Every day of this Journey of the Soul, we have walked deeper into the wilderness, confronted obstacles such as getting lost, and challenged ourselves with penetrating questions. Today, we come upon an oasis and can rest for a bit before we continue our journey.
Our resting stop is the thirty-third day of the Omer, also known as Lag B’Omer. The name of this minor holiday in the Jewish calendar comes from the numerical values assigned to the Hebrew letters lamed (ל – 30) and gimel (three -ג) — “Lag b’Omer.” (ל״ג בעומר)
Rabbi Michael Strassfeld points out in his beautiful book, The Jewish Holidays, that there are a number of questions and divergent opinions about the origins, meaning and practices of Lag B’Omer.* What we do know, though, is that Lag B’Omer is a day of festivities and celebration, in which our mood lightens for the day. Picnics, outings, bonfires and weddings are part of Lag B’Omer practices. For some, the mood of the Omer period remains lighter from Lag B’Omer to Shavuot than it was during the first thirty-two days.
For us participating in Journey of the Soul, today on Lag B’Omer, we offer a celebratory shout-out of yashar koakh, which literally means “may you go forward in strength,” but as we typically offer it, the phrase means, “way to go!” Today we say,”good for you” fellow travelers! We have covered significant territory. We have not given up. We continue our pilgrimage. Today we celebrate our journey thus far and our commitment to continuing on the road.
We celebrate by offering a song that you may be familiar with from the soundtrack ofPrince of Egypt. “I Will Get There” is sung by Boyz II Men. So turn up the volume and enjoy the beautiful harmonies and the message.
Celebrate: Lag B’Omer is an opportunity to celebrate how far we have come and tune in to what brings us joy. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said, “Always remember: Joy is not merely incidental to your spiritual quest. It is vital.” Carve out some time today to do something that makes you smile. Go on a picnic or for a walk outdoors. Or play a musical instrument. Invite others to join you for a game — croquet, bowling, Rummycube, softball… Watch a comedy. Make a list of 10 things that make you happy.
Blessing for Counting the Omer:
Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu 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 thirty-third day, totaling four weeks and five days of the Omer:Hayom shloshah u’shloshim yom, she-haim arba-ah shavuot
va-hamisha yamim la-omer.
Blessings to you on this new day. We are delighted to journey together.
Rabbi Jill Zimmerman and Rabbi Cindy Enger
*Strassfeld, Michael. The Jewish Holidays: A Guide & Commentary. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1985
.** Journey of the Soul: Making the Omer Count is a project of Rabbi Cindy Enger and Rabbi Jill Zimmerman. TO SUBSCRIBE: Click here