Counting the Days

I had planned to send an email last week on Friday, Lag B’Omer. It was on this day we learned about the tragedy at Mt. Meron in Israel where 45 people were killed in a horrible accident.

The Omer is the 49 days between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot and each of the days is traditionally counted. The 33rd day, is a minor Jewish holiday called Lag B’Omer.

I was going to write about how the Omer is a time of “pseudo-mourning” and that this holiday is a chance to exhale, even just for a moment, before coming back into a space focused on preparing our minds and souls for Shavuot, the holiday where we celebrate receiving the Torah, the Five Books of Moses.

There’s an interesting thing about grief: it exists without a care for calendars or convenience. We cannot predict when it will surface and when it will hide away. Grief is not linear. And yet, Jewish practice offers specific blocks of time for grief and mourning practices; Seven days, thirty days, a year, the Omer.

While recording a podcast interview this week for The Be.Side Project, my guest talked about the tool of setting goals for processing grief as a tool towards building resilience. If we note when we cross those time boundaries, it can help us begin to move forward.

Maybe this is partly the intention behind having ritual time periods for mourning. To give us a marker, in the distance, and to know that if we reach it, there’s another marker to look towards, and then another.

I’ve also been thinking about how even though the Omer is a time of “mourning” we’re also counting up to joy. Each passing days brings us closer to a celebratory milestones. So often life weaves together these two ways of being.

And so we count. Sometimes to be mindful of the distance accumulating between days and sometimes to remind ourselves that joy is up ahead.

Today we are seven days from the tragedy in Meron.
My daughter’s first birthday is in three weeks.
Today is the 40th day of the Omer.

Wishing you a Shabbat and a weekend full of joy and rest!


Episode 05: Teach Me Something with Rabbi Jessica Minnen

In this episode Rabbi Jessica Minnen teaches me about the story of Onan and we explore how this text about a guy who pulled out during sex may or may not have led to the word "onen” which is the word for someone in deep grief immediately following the death of a loved one, before the burial.

In case you missed it:

Episode 04: Al Rosenberg