As Sefirat HaOmer (The Counting of the Omer) winds down this year, I finally found a kavannah, a lens, through which I could meaningfully connect to the ritual. For fifty days from the start of Pesach, Jews are commanded to count each day, and many Jews connect to this time period by focusing on the spiritual significance of each day.
This has rarely worked for me, and I despaired of connecting to the ritual at all at this point in my life, drawing meaning instead from the two holidays that bookend the Omer. Then I came across a dvar by a Pardes alum that brought the practice to life.
As winter shades into spring (or, in Israel, spring into summer), the Omer offers us an opportunity to re-charge, taking full advantage of each and every day. Without any of the ritual counting, I have been able to accomplish this goal over the last two weeks, while I was on a long-awaited trip to Israel. Each day brought more opportunities to connect and re-connect, to family, friends, and to Jerusalem as a city full of wonderful memories. Each day felt full and productive, maintaining relationships and soaking in the sun and the motivating busy-ness that is Jerusalem.
I hope to take that energy back into my more routine life here, and to remember that sense of purpose as the Omer rolls around next spring. Each day holds both opportunity and finitude. We can each improve ourselves and our relationships to our family, friends, and communities in small, tangible ways. However, even though one can get from Jerusalem to Boston in 24 hours, one day holds only so much potential. The struggle the Omer presents is how to maintain a focus on deriving meaning from each day without burning out. I hope that, in the coming year, we can all find that balance.