The Omer: Making It Count

Between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot, Jews traditionally count out the 49 days between. This period of time is called “the Omer.” Over the course of time, people have created various different counting calendars (much like Advent calendars). People have also used the counting as a way to add some practice to their lives, be it text study, or attempting some sort of “self-improvement project.”

Some years I’ve used the time to become more committed to blogging. Other years, I’ve tried to meditate more regularly during the Omer. This year, I’m thinking of trying to study some Jewish or spiritual text each day of the Omer.

Text study is, for Jews, a form of spiritual practice. For me, it is about reading the text and trying to understand two things:

  1. What did the author intend?
  2. What does the text mean to me?

Sometimes these two meanings are similar. Sometimes I find a personal meaning in the text that the author could not have intended, but makes the text deeply influential in my life. Sometimes the process of text study is more about decyphering Hebrew, and sometimes it’s more about re-interpreting an outdated text.

What texts will I be studying? I don’t fully know yet. I know I’d like to do some more reading in Psalms. But I think I’d also like to spend some time on later texts, probably either Mussar or Maimonides Mishne Torah. I’m sure I’ll wind up doing a wide variety of other texts as well. Maybe some Kabbalah or other Jewish mystical texts (Rav Kook?).

For me, the opportunity to spend some time studying Jewish spiritual texts is an opportunity to examine myself, how I am leading my life, and what matters to me. It is also a chance for me to stimulate my brain which will likely leak into increased creativity in other areas of my life.

What impact will this have on this blog? Probably there will be more frequent posts connected to the texts I’m reading. When I’m thinking about something, it has a way of finding expression here, so it’s likely that you’ll be getting a bit more Jewish content over the next 7 weeks.

For those of you counting the omer, I invite you to think about whether there is a habit you would like to inculcate in yourself over this period of time. If so, go ahead and give it a shot.

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6 Responses to “The Omer: Making It Count”

  1. Emily Says:

    I really like this entry, David. I’ve been thinking a lot about the spiritual aspects of my own relationship with words, language, and literature, so in a way it’s timely (even if our respective “texts” are bound to be quite different). Good luck with your study!

  2. Bram Pitoyo Says:

    I really hope you’ll post thoughts, learnings and impressions from the spiritual texts you’re reading. I believe that our secular world needs more writing like this (secular and spiritual I tend to as two opposing forces that need each other for it to be meaningful.)

  3. Junaid Bayat Says:

    good luck in your studies….very informative…

  4. Reading Tomer D’vorah « Rabbi David Kominsky Says:

    […] spiritualityTags: mussar, Mysticism, religion, spirituality, theology, Tomer Devorah As I previously mentioned, I am reading spriritual texts during each day of the omer. In particular, I’ve been reading […]

  5. Shoshana Bricklin Says:

    I am knitting as part of my omer practice. Each day I am knitting a small square in the colors of the sefirot. Each block is connected and at the end I’ll probably knit around the whole thing with all seven colors. Can’t wait ’till Shavuot to see how it all looks. Meanwhile each day I get to meditate on the aspects of the sefirot for that day while I knit.

  6. rabbidavidkominsky Says:

    Shoshana,That sounds like a great idea. I hope you’ll post photos of the knitting somewhere. I’d love to see them.


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