By Rabbi Navah Levine
Rabbi-Educator, Temple Emeth
At this time of year, Jews around the world are Counting the Omer, counting the days between Passover and Shavuot. It is a simple ritual, yet it heightens the sense of anticipation each day as Shavuot draws near.
Each evening toward the end of the prayer service, we recite a blessing over counting the Omer: “Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has sanctified us with [God’s] commandments and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.“ After the blessing, we announce the new day of the Omer, complete with the number of days and weeks, and – in many communities – the day’s mystical significance and a kavana (spiritual intention).
Counting is easy, and it would seem like an effortless practice to spend a minute doing so for seven weeks out of the year. Yet the truth is that unless one is in the habit of praying with a minyan every evening, it is remarkably easy to forget to count the Omer at night. Fortunately, there is a bit of wiggle room given: if one forgets to count during the evening, one may do so the next day (without the blessing) and then pick up again the next night.
As one who has often forgotten to count, I appreciate being given that second chance to remember the next day. However, I never gave it much thought until a recent conversation with a close friend, who pointed out the following powerful message imbedded in this practice: We can be imperfect, yet still complete.
Being human, we do not always get everything just right. We make mistakes, even in something as simple as counting. It is inevitable that in life, we forget or overlook things with far more serious repercussions. Yet our errors needn’t fester in our souls and diminish us. There are ways to move on, to acknowledge the shortfall, and then travel forward, in wholeness. We are human. We are imperfect, yet complete.
May this month’s journey to Shavuot find us at peace within.
Rabbi Navah Levine
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