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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

I'll Meet You at 50

Parshat Emor includes a list of the holy days of the year. Included in the terse description of the biblical holy days are detailed instructions for counting the period of time between the Passover holiday until 49 nights later to the eve of Shavuot, entering into the 50th day.

This period of Counting the Omer is layered with Jewish history. It takes us through our earliest agricultural beginnings, through the period of Roman persecution, touching upon complex cabalistic interpretations and continuing until the present day when new holidays, such as Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha'atzmaut have been introduced during the counting.

Counting the Omer, or sefira, is something that I wait for every year. I am not sure why this is; after all, it is only a count, but there is something bigger than just the act of counting. There is the challenge to remember (which is helped by having a reminder on my phone) and the potential for introspection, and even making some specific positive changes in behavior (I'm not so successful at that either). There is also the sense that as we count we are heading toward some important goal. The count is made as part of a community if we happen to be at synagogue for the evening services, or it is made on our own in the evening wherever we may be. Wherever we are we need to remember and bless the count. Sefira is our mini marathon that connects freedom with torah, the core of our learning and the heart of our relationship to God.

This poem, I'll Meet You at 50, takes us on that journey of Counting the Omer through a little bit of Jewish history. In this year of 5784, our destination, which is matan torah (the giving of the torah) and peoplehood, is a greatly appreciated and a welcome ending point to our count for this year, but the count never really ends.

On this night, the 22d night of Counting the Omer, if the heavens are open to my prayers, I wish for peace.

Kol tuv,



I'll Meet You at 50

I'll meet you at 50.

You won’t forget what happened along the way,


the route is littered with

fragments of ancient arrow heads,

legends of caves and miracles,

charred remains of ancient bonfires,

bundles of barley and choice wheat,

rusted tanks and

souls aplenty.

Sweet pilgrims who made it once to 50,

but not again.

In your ears you can almost hear the distant rumbles of thunder

and feel thick gray clouds enveloping the mountain.

I'll meet you at 50,

the formula to arrive stumbles from your lips,

whispered each night after darkness falls,

yet, never once did you stop along the path

to notice

the weeping whispers of our shared story.

All this time you thought you counting were alone.

Only when you arrived

did you find them.

Those who will never desert you,

never curse you.

Those whose embrace warms your weary bones

and welcomes you.


It is just a number,

but it is our haven.

It is our home.


From the Rambam on the connection of Passover and Shavuot:

Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim (Guide for the Perplexed) 3:43

Shavuot is the time of the Giving of the Torah. In order to honor and elevate this day we count the days from the previous festival until it [arrives], like someone who is waiting for a loved one to arrive, who counts the days by the hours. This is the reason for counting the Omer from the day that we left Egypt until the day of the Giving of the Torah, as this was the ultimate purpose of leaving Egypt: “And I will bring them to Me” (Shemot 19:4).


Other poems from Words Have Wings on Parshat Emor and Counting the Omer

It's Just Another Day Counting the Omer

Counting the Omer

Home of the Imperfect


וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמּחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹ֖מֶר הַתְּנוּפָ֑ה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּת֖וֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּהְיֶֽינָה׃

And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete:

עַ֣ד מִֽמּחֳרַ֤ת הַשַּׁבָּת֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תִּסְפְּר֖וּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים י֑וֹם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֛ם מִנְחָ֥ה חֲדָשָׁ֖ה לַי-הֹ-וָֽ-ה׃

you must count until the day after the seventh week—fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to י-ה-ו-ה.

Leviticus 23:15, 16


50 חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים

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