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Lag B'Omer

04/29/2021 04:15:18 PM

Apr29

Rabbi Hearshen

We are all aware of the tradition associated with New Year’s Eve (the secular one) when we count down the seconds until the year ends. We are trained to sit and watch a ball drop over the last moments of the year as we shout 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5… you get the point. Those of us who used to enjoy watching the shuttles launch from Cape Canaveral enjoyed that same idea of counting down. The act of counting down is not reserved for new years or shuttles. It’s something we do when looking forward to lifecycles, anniversaries and much more. We love to create countdowns until we arrive at the time or day of the thing we’re looking forward to. We know that on that day, or at that time, something big is happening and so it is easy to “count down” to the moment it’s scheduled to occur. But what if we did something different? What if chose to count up instead of counting down?

Each year, from the second night of Pesach, we embark on a ritual of counting up. We count the Omer each night from the second day of Pesach until the night before Shavuot. Seven weeks of seven gives us the 49 days of the Omer and thus all the days we count. Counting up is a very important thing to do. When we count down, we limit the growth and the duration of something. When we count up, we have no limit to when the counting could hypothetically end. Counting down is about diminishing while counting up is about growth. Counting down is about time passing while counting up is about life moving forward. Think about it like this: when we are born, we know nothing about the length of our lives. We only know that each year, on the day the we were born, we are one year older. If we were to count down, we would be stating there’s a predestined and known end. Some people choose to count up as if we are one day further along from birth, while others, in a negative fashion, say that they are one day closer to death.

I love the Omer period each year because it reminds us time and again to look forward and to look up. It reminds us each year to make the most of our days. It reminds us each year the world is not ending but moving forward. We count up because there are no limits and there is no end. We count up because every day we grow. As we continue to count the Omer, don’t look at counting down to the end but counting up from the beginning. Look at all we can do to grow and see a non-defined future that has yet to be determined.

Wed, May 12 2021 1 Sivan 5781