Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on Rabbi Jill Zimmerman’s website and is reposted here with her permission.
Counting the Omer is a spiritual practice that is profound and transformative, universal and entirely personal. It is the next step in the Passover experience as we move out from our newfound freedom and journey into the wilderness.
This year, in 2021, we started with day one the evening of the second Seder, March 28.
Every spring as bulbs begin to peek out of the soil from their long winter nap, we relive an epic story that is newly relevant each year and in each generation.
On the Jewish holiday of Passover, the Israelites journey from the narrow place of slavery into freedom.
In telling this story every Passover we remind ourselves and our children that freedom is possible. We do not have to stay stuck. We can join hands and move.
This paradigmatic story of the Israelites and its themes of liberation are reflected in other cultures in music and poetry and prayer. The motif is both universal and entirely personal.
The story invites us to reflect on our own narrow places and how to take the first steps into expansion on our own behalf.
The entire Exodus experience provides a guiding metaphor for each individual who seeks to untie themselves from the many ways we are enslaved or are bound up in shackles of our own making.
But wait: this powerful story has wings that fly after the seder.
Being released and redeemed from how we are bound is the beginning.
Now, we must venture into the unknown as we make our way towards Wisdom.
Counting the Omer/Sefirat HaOmer
For seven weeks (forty-nine days) commencing the second night of Passover, we count each day until our arrival at Mount Sinai, on the festival of Shavuot. Shavuot, is when we are given and receive Torah/Wisdom.
Here, we get a map as to how to live our lives in our freedom.
This spiritual practice is known as “Counting the Omer/Sefirat HaOmer.”
It is a time is one of soul development. It mirrors the reflection we do during the month of Elul, which precedes the fall High Holy Days. The goal is to reflect on how we can move beyond our current limits and become our best selves.
About Journey & the Urgency of Now
Some journeys we choose. Other journeys choose us. This year, each of us has traveled a journey we did not choose as we navigated through the pandemic.
As we begin to emerge from this year of challenge, it is time to take stock of what you have learned along the way.
Although it might be tempting, I urge you not to “move on” without exploring the journey you have taken this past year.
It just might be the richest soul-work you have ever done.
Come Journey With Us
There are several ways:
1) Download this free workbook. You can begin at any time. One question each day for seven weeks:
2) Register for my most popular course: Your Spiritual Journey, Transformational Soul-Work
3-session in-depth course, offered at two different times beginning Tuesday April 13 or Thursday April 15
PS – You do not need to be Jewishly knowledgeable or Jewish. The themes are relatable for every person on a spiritual journey.