Emanuel Synagogue

Omer period

Earth-based mindfulness is one of the themes for this week’s Torah reading. The seven-week period from Passover to the festival of Shavuot, is called the Omer period, where the Torah commands we count each day and say a blessing. Originally this was connected to the ripening of barley in the Land of Israel, with it culminated in going on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem with the fruits of the land in hand. With the passing of time, and with Jewish creativity, the 16th Century kabbalists understood this period as a time for deep reflection and self-improvement – each of the seven weeks, related to one of the key middot or qualities to which we aspire.

Week 1: Loving-kindness Chesed; Week 2: Courage Gevurah; Week 3: Compassion Tiferet; and this week’s theme: Ambition and Success Netzach. During this week of the Omer, (which ends on the evening of 14 May) we reflect on our goals and our hopes. We reflect on what we are striving toward and reflect on where we direct our energy. We ask: Do our goals align with the principle by which we want to live our lives? We can sometimes be swept up by external pressures, so this is a week to tune into how we feel about our goals and refine them. It’s also a week to celebrate the successes we have accomplished – whether large or small. You might want to journal as you do the Omer practice.

From the night of 14 May, we begin the week of Gratitude & Humility: Hod. Scientific studies show that a daily practice of contemplating what we are grateful for, leads to a higher feeling of wellbeing. It’s a time to give thanks.

Just as the barley ripens in Israel, we help our soul to ripen through the Omer practice.

At the end of week seven, we reach the 50th day and celebrate the festival of receiving Torah. It’s a time to reap the benefits of a 49-day practice of mindfulness. If you haven’t started counting the Omer, it’s not too late – you can start today. I am teaching online classes of Jewish Meditation and Mindfulness and also sending out regular emails to guide you through the Omer count. If you’d like to join, feel free to email me on orna@neshamalife.org

Blessings for a meaningful Omer, Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff.