The counting of the Omer

In Judaism, the counting of the omer סְפִירַת הָעוֹמֶר is the 7 week interval between Pesach פֶּסַח (Passover) and Shavuot שָׁבוּעוֹת. In Biblical times our Israelite ancestors brought an omer offering of barley to the Beit HaMikdash בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ (Holy Temple in Jerusalem, or more literally, House of Holiness.)

This period connected the Passover harvest festival – which recalls our Exodus from Egypt – to the Sukkot harvest festival – which recalls when our freed ancestors received the 10 Commandments at Mount Sinai.

Today we no longer bring the offerings, but we still count each day of this period: Rabbi Simon Jacobson describes this time as “a journey into the human psyche, into the soul. There are seven basic emotions that make up the spectrum of human experience. At the root of all forms of enslavement is a distortion of these emotions. Each of the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot is dedicated to examining and refining one of them.”

Chesed חֶסֶד – Loving-kindness
Gevurah גבורה – Justice and discipline
Tiferet תִּפְאֶרֶת – Harmony, compassion
Netzach נצח – Endurance
Hod הוד – Humility
Yesod יסוד – Bonding
Malchut מלכות – Sovereignty, leadership

Our emotions are multidimensional, so over these 7 weeks we examine their 49 possible combinations. A 49-step program, inspired by Jewish mysticism, for introspection and growth.

Liturgy

How to count the Omer, My Jewish Learning

Counting of the Omer, Siddur Lev Shalem, from the new siddur of the Conservative Jewish movement.

Counting of the Omer, Siddur Sim Shalom

Resources

A Daily Omer Meditation, R. Simon Jacobson

Omer cards – This set of 49 unique and beautiful cards offers an inspirational reading for each day of the Omer.

Flipbook: A Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer: Steps to Personal Refinement

A chart which will help you remember to Count the Omer, and will help you visualize where we are in the journey of the Omer. Each week is color-coded to go with a different kabbalistic quality (lovingkindness, boundaried strength, balance, and so on) and at the bottom of the page there’s a reminder of what each of the terms means.

Online daily meditation for counting the omer (updated automatically beginning the 2nd might of Passover.)

Halakhah

The Laws of Sefirah and Shavuot A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, R. Isaac Klein, JTS

Responsa about the omer

Responsa, also known as She’elot u-Teshuvot (שאלות ותשובות‎ “questions and answers”), are Judaism’s literature of rabbinic answers to questions. A modern term is “Ask the rabbi”.

What may a person who completely forgets a 24-hour cycle of counting the Omer do vis-a-vis counting on subsequent days? May one continue counting the Omer? May one continue to count with a blessing? May one count but without a blessing? A Missed Day in the Life of the Omer from the CJLS of the Rabbinical Assembly

May a person be released from Omer restrictions (e.g. haircuts) before Shavuot if the opportunity arises without guarantee of its availability later?

Why is it Customary to Mourn Between Pesach and Shavuot? Responsa in a Moment, R. David Golinkin, Schechter Institute, Jerusalem

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