Making our Days Count
May 15, 2020
I hope that you are doing well, feeling healthy and finding purpose and calm during the lock-down, school closures and changes to our daily routines. I am going to be adding a new routine to my week – writing a weekly email message to the congregation on Fridays. My hope that this message will help us connect and, perhaps, provide a little Jewish wisdom in light of the extraordinary times that we are living through. I hope it might also spark dialogue – please feel free to respond with your own thoughts, outlook and questions and please feel free to offer suggestions for topics and content.
In the traditional Jewish calendar, we count from Passover to Shavuot – 49 days called the Omer. Omer means “sheaf.” In ancient times, Israelites brought a measure of barley, called an Omer offering, to the Temple for each of the days. The days also symbolically represent the legendary days leading up to Moses receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai. Ritually observant Jews recite a short blessing and then announce the number day of the omer out loud. For example, “Today is the 37th day of counting the omer, which is 5 weeks and 2 days.”
While we might have difficulty finding meaning in counting the days of an ancient grain offering, we are most certainly in a time when we are all counting. “Today is the 30th day of the lockdown.” “Today, there were 5% more Covid-19 cases in the D.C. area than yesterday.” We are waiting for public health officials to count to the peak of the disease in our area.
In traditional Jewish practice, the period of the omer is solemn, while Jewish humanists reject the solemn nature of the period since there isn't relevant reasoning for it. But, for traditionally observant Jews, it isn’t a time for music or dancing or weddings or parties, even, haircuts! No parties, no haircuts – sound familiar? In our community’s life, this period of Covid-19 is also solemn, and stressful and sometimes sad, sometimes lonely. What purpose can there be in counting them?
I am finding that my lockdown days meld into one another. Counting gives structure. More importantly, though, than counting the days is making each day count. Even though we are living through a disruptive time, it is important to make our days count – to find purpose and meaning each day and not let them just meld into time gone by. I have been trying to reach out to friends and family. I’ve been trying new recipes and have been sewing mask, lots of them. I’d love to hear what you are doing to add meaning to your time, to make your days count.
I wish you a very peaceful and joyful Shabbat.
Oh, by the way, today is the 37th day of counting the omer and the 46th day of the lockdown in Maryland.