Harvesting Our Joy: Counting the Omer Day One

Tonight is the first night of the counting of the omer. 50 days between now and Shavuot. Seven weeks of seven days. Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates first fruits and the giving of the law at Sinai. It solidifies our freedom that we celebrate this week.

For decades I have planted winter wheat or winter rye with students at Sukkot and then watched as it miraculously, magically grows starting at Passover and fully heading out by Shavuot. It is a wonderful tradition I learned from Rabbi Everett Gendler. It ties the agricultural nature of the Jewish holidays, especially the pilgrimage festivals, together. This year was no exception. But this year, for the first time ever, no winter wheat.

Counting the omer is something that has often appealed to me. It is a spiritual practice, a discipline. It seems simple. Count 50 days. Sounds simple, no? Remembering to count every day is hard. Looking at the underlying spiritual and mystical roots is harder. The mystics tie each day to a different soul-trait. Week one is all about chesed, lovingkindness.

This year we needed a new idea. Harvest our joy. It fits nicely with finding joy which we have been studying all year. 50 days of photos, images of happiness. Each of these will then be printed on 4×6 paper and hung in the CKI entrance way.

I will start with one. Simon loves everything University of Michigan. He was the student manager of the football team one year in college. We watch every UofM football game and many of the basketball games. For him the Big House is the Promised Land. This past weekend he had the opportunity to run a 5K which ended on the Michigan 50 yard line. Here is Day One’s Image of Joy.

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