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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

It’s Just Another Day Counting The Omer

Parshat Emor proves again that Sefer VaYikra is full of hidden treasures and provides much food for thought. The parsha continues Sefer Vayikra's detailed description of sacrifices to be brought on different festival days. We learn who among the blood line of the priests can qualify, because only physically perfect specimens are allowed into the priesthood. We learn of our holidays and of first fruits and the holy festivals that populate our years and allow us to rest and appreciate time set apart. We once again learn about the holiness of the seventh day, Shabbat. Finally, we learn the disturbing story of a man who is stoned because he blasphemed the name of God.

Parshat Emor also presents a few lines on the counting of the Omer. As mentioned a few weeks ago, we count the Omer, the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot. It connects two festival days through Judaism's roots of sacrifice, agriculture and history.

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: you must count until the day after the seventh week—fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the LORD. You shall bring from your settlements two loaves of bread as an elevation offering; each shall be made of two-tenths of a measure of choice flour, baked after leavening, as first fruits to the LORD.

Leviticus 23:15-17 (Translation from Sefaria)

Counting the Omer is simple. It is just a count. No rewards at the end of the count. No accolades or scores posted on the scoreboard, although sometimes for me it becomes a challenge; almost a game. Can I complete it without missing a night? I'm not sure that the Rabbis meant for counting the Omer to be a challenge, but for me it works and makes me determined to finish counting each of the 49 days. Some years I am successful and others I am not. It helps to have a phone alarms that reminds you!

I'll finish by saying that counting the Omer is a way to mark time. During the time between Passover and Shavuot the world comes to life in so many ways. Counting the Omer gives us the time and space to notice how things change and maybe even how we change over time. This poem is an account of one moment of time in counting the Omer, 2023.

Kol tuv on this 26th day of counting the Omer.



It's Just Another Day Counting The Omer

It’s just another day counting the Omer.

The sky reveals an ivory moon

almost full....

Has it been almost a month since the Seder?

How time flies.

It’s the 26th night of counting the Omer.

I am wheeling the cart through

Market Basket.

music plays in my ear

my ear buds warm in my ears,

as I waltz though the market,

replenishing the supply of

summer grandkid snacks.

Popsicles and ice cream sandwiches.

The music stops

and the phone alarm vibrates in my pocket.

It's time to count the Omer.

I stand still by the sweet corn bin in the produce aisle

and say my bracha,

Al sefirat haomer.

I text my husband

"Don’t forget to count."

It’s just another night.

26 nights of counting the Omer.

The weather has been cool and wet,

but the trees leaves have opened.

Maple and now oak.

Each new leaf as soft

as soft

could possibly be.

The potato sprouts boldly rise

in the big tin basin.

Peas reach curled green tendrils toward the sky.

Early mornings I search on knees for perennials which slowly poke up from the earth.

Will the sage appear?

Look, here comes the fennel,

rising red and feathery from the earth.

On this 26th day of counting the Omer

I feel in my bones

the transition from spring to summer.

From seed to plant.

From plant to harvest.

From song to song.

Time passes

from moon phase to moon phase.

I’m just a passenger on this

slow and gentle journey;

slowly counting,

marking the passage of time.

Another day,

another blessing,

another memory.

It’s just another day counting the Omer

and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמּחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹ֖מֶר הַתְּנוּפָ֑ה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּת֖וֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּהְיֶֽינָה׃ עַ֣ד מִֽמּחֳרַ֤ת הַשַּׁבָּת֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תִּסְפְּר֖וּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים י֑וֹם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֛ם מִנְחָ֥ה חֲדָשָׁ֖ה לַיהֹוָֽה׃ מִמּוֹשְׁבֹ֨תֵיכֶ֜ם תָּבִ֣יאּוּ ׀ לֶ֣חֶם תְּנוּפָ֗ה שְׁ֚תַּיִם שְׁנֵ֣י עֶשְׂרֹנִ֔ים סֹ֣לֶת תִּהְיֶ֔ינָה חָמֵ֖ץ תֵּאָפֶ֑ינָה בִּכּוּרִ֖ים לַֽיהֹוָֽה

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