Counting the Omer FAQ

Submitted by Shai Gluskin on April 26, 2006 1:31 AM

 

Read the intro for the 2008 omer journaling.
Read 2008 omer journal entries.

What is "Counting the Omer?"

Counting the days between Passover and Shavuot has been going on since the time of the Torah (and probably before). It's the time of year when the viability of the crops is in doubt. It is an exciting time of year to see the new crop coming in, but it is also anxiety provoking because of the uncertainty of its success.

And you shall count ... from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering [the second day of Passover] for seven full weeks. On the day after the seventh full week, on the 50th day you shall offer a new meal offering to the Lord. Leviticus 23:15-17

Seen as part of a grand historic drama, this is the period of time between liberation (throwing out Pharoah's law) and revelation at Mt. Sinai during Shavuot (taking on God's law).

The kabbalists (12th - 18th century roughly) saw this as a good time for inner work and spiritual purification in preparation for receiving the Torah at Shavuot. Each day in the counting to 50 represents an aspect of ourselves. With intent and reflection one can attempt to purify that aspect and therefore be better prepared to receive (again) the Torah on the holiday of Shavuot.

The kabbalistic system developed 10 sefirot (literally countings) or aspects of God's emanation or unfolding. The group of ten are often divided up into the "upper" and "lower" sefirot. The listing below is of the "lower" seven sefirot that are used for the counting.

There are many different names and attributes for each of the sefirot. But here are some of the most common names for them:

Sefira Tree
 

1. Chesed - Committed Love
2. Gevura - Judgement/Power/Limitation
3. Tiferet - Beauty/Royalty/Kingship
4. Netzach - Endurance/Long Life
5. Hod - Resonance/Echo/Glory
6. Yesod - Foundation
7. Malchut - Queenship/Closeness of God/God in Our World.

The kabbalists took the seven weeks of the omer counting and assigned one sefira from the lower seven sefirot to each of the weeks. Then within each week, you have one of the seven for each day. 7 x's 7 = the 49 days, theoretically relating to 49 aspects of our personalities and of our existence that need to be purified before we receive the Torah on Shavuot.

What is Shai Gluskin's Omer Journal?

There aren't precise meanings about what the sefirot mean or about what their combinations mean. My omer calendar is an associative musing, based on what I know about the symbols of each sefira and what I know about my own life. There is nothing authoritative about what I'm saying. I'm simply engaging in the count and putting my life and my ideas in the context of the counting.

Comments

5 comments posted
Translation of "Hod"

In your kabbalah chart on the Omer, I wonder if there's a reason that you've chosen to render "Hod" as echo, resonance, rather than "glory." pray, tell.

peace,
arielle

Posted by arielle on April 30, 2006 10:17 AM
Arielle, In response to your

Arielle, In response to your comments, I've added "glory" to the list of Hod's meanings. I think that the reason I originally didn't use this most common translation is that the word "glory" doesn't conjure much for me. But looking in the dictionary helps. The first definition is, "High renown or honor won for one's achievements."

This is a good time to remind folk that the sefirot are not defined by their names. I believe it was in the Sefer Yestzirah, one of the earliest Jewish mystical texts that the sefirot were referred to by the numbers 1 to 10. Each of those numbers can be described by a whole host of symbols, each have a color and a biblical character, etc. associated with it. In some ways referring to them by their numbers would be better so that it would remind better of the limitations of language in talking about this stuff.

Posted by Shai Gluskin on May 4, 2006 9:49 AM
In some Omer literature, Hod

In some Omer literature, Hod is given the attribute "humility" which is nowhere in its dictionary definition, but underscores your point about the sefirot being symbols, not words.

We're counting the Omer with readings about chairtable acts at http://nwssomer.blogspot.com/ if you want to join in.

Jeff

Posted by Jeff on May 8, 2006 5:52 PM
Thank you. I have found that

Thank you. I have found that I journal, meditate, walk my sephira stones, do yoga and "sapher" the omer that way. This is the first year I have done this practice. I like your site.

Posted by Judith Gulko on May 2, 2006 3:43 PM
In discussing the sefira of

In discussing the sefira of Hod, I would like to comment on the idea of 'Glory'. The glory expressing through Hod is God's Glory as expressed through the particulars of individual, not the individuals glory of self or achievement.The glory of individual achievement is a Greek concept as expressed through competition like the Olympics. For example, If i win, than you lose. Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel, on the other hand, is the expression of Hod. He sought to bring peace to people by recognizing the beauty that each individual brings to the relationship. If you express God's glory and I express God's glory than we both win. This is why God chose him to be the High Priest. Hod is on the side of Gevurah or constriction. God's glory can be expressed through me by my showing up and fully expressing God's glory through my unique gifts and you doing the same. It's called 'Win,Win'. Jewish men can experience this first hand by attending a workshop called "Call of the Shofar" . See www.callofthe shofar.org

Posted by aaron on May 7, 2009 6:36 AM