We count the Omer on our journey from slavery to freedom to transformation

By Student Rabbi Matt Derrenbacher

Spring is a season of transition: Pesach is just behind us, we’ve switched from praying for rain to praying for dew, and we engage in the practice of s’firat ha-omer, counting the Omer.

Pesach is our foundation for this season of transition where we personally and communally experience the transition from slavery to freedom.

That freedom, then, sets us out on our journey to true transformation.

Our ancestors searched for identity in the desert

Once our ancestors were freed from slavery in Egypt, they needed to wander in the desert to discover who they were as free individuals and as a free community.

Only after that journey were they able to receive the Torah from God at Sinai.

Omer is a 49-day period that our people traditionally used to count the agricultural time between Pesach and Shavuot.

Omer is a 49-day period that our people traditionally used to count the agricultural time between Pesach and Shavuot.

While the counting still holds agricultural significance, many of us in diaspora engage in the counting for spiritual reasons.

Pesach and Shavuot receive the most press in our communities. But this period of the Omer is where the true transformation happens.

Use this time to prepare

Now that we have tasted the sweetness of freedom, it is my prayer that we can use this intermediary period of the Omer to prepare ourselves spiritually and emotionally for the responsibility of freedom.

Only after years of wandering and preparation were our ancestors ready to receive the Torah.

It is now our responsibility to think about what Torah we are receiving this year, what Torah we are fighting for this year, and what Torah we want to cultivate and leave behind for those who come after us.

It is now our responsibility to think about what Torah we are receiving this year, what Torah we are fighting for this year, and what Torah we want to cultivate and leave behind for those who come after us.

I pray that each of us can begin to intentionally engage with our own spiritual journeys through Torah, so we can truly come together and celebrate our Torah as a free, intentional People in Shavuot.

Student Rabbi Matt Derrenbacher will serve UHC Terre Haute during the 2021-22 academic year.

Grain photo created by azerbaijan_stockers – www.freepik.com

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