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Omer Introduction: Spiritual Training Camp

"‘And from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, you shall count for yourselves: seven completed Sabbaths. ‘Until the morrow after the seventh Sabbath you count fifty days, then you shall bring a new grain offering to יהוה."

(Wayy/Lev. 23:15-16)

Sefirat HaOmer (Counting the Omer) is the time period that bridges Pesach (Passover) to Shavuot (Festival of Weeks). From the second day of Pesach (the morrow after the Sabbath), we count seven weeks (49 days), and then on the 50th day, we observe Shavuot.

Sefirat HaOmer is more than just an “in-between” time. It’s not just something we do to pass the time between holidays. It’s a very significant period of time that brings tremendous spiritual growth when observed with understanding.

YAHUAH brought Yisrael out of Mitsrayim so they could serve Him on Sinai (Shem/Ex. 3:12). At Sinai, YAHUAH gave His people the Torah. It then became Yisrael’s duty and responsibility to share the Torah with the rest of the world through their obedience and their teachings.

For 49 days after leaving Mitsrayim, with YAHUAH’s help, Yisrael prepared themselves to receive the Torah. So, too, we must do now.

As we look forward to Shavuot by counting each day, our focus should be on preparing ourselves to receive the Torah. Our primary purpose in receiving the Torah is so we can obey it and, thus, be a light to the nations.

YAHUAH wants us to put in the work these 49 days to prepare ourselves for this mission. We work to purify ourselves of sin, and we strive to improve our ways and become better people.

Yahudim around the world are counting each day and working to prepare themselves in various ways. Some commit themselves to reading and studying certain texts. Some commit to reciting specific prayers each day. Others focus on personal development through something called the sefirot.

The sefirot are deep, spiritual concepts that are beyond the scope of this article to explain fully. For the purpose of our study, we'll consider them to be like spiritual characteristics or attributes. We'll use the sefirot as our guide for spiritual growth during the omer and work on developing ourselves in these areas.

There are seven weeks of sefirat haomer and seven sefirot that we focus on during this time. They are:

  • Chesed (loving-kindness)

  • Gevurah (discipline, restraint)

  • Tiferet (harmony, compassion)

  • Netzach (endurance)

  • Hod (humility)

  • Yesod (bonding)

  • Malchut (sovereignty, leadership)

These seven attributes are “built-in” to every human being as part of our "spiritual makeup," if you will. However, we are not just spiritual beings. We are spiritual beings housed in a physical body.

Our physical body often blocks or interferes with the expression of our spiritual nature. So, for example, even though we all have kindness built-in, our physical self causes us to be selfish or stringy.

It is our responsibility as Yahudim to work on ourselves so that our physical self is diminished and our spiritual self is strengthened and allowed to shine through.

When we develop these seven traits, we become more of the people YAHUAH created us to be. We become people who are ready and prepared to receive the Torah and carry out our mission to share it with the world.

So much is needed in the world today, but the Torah is absolutely paramount. So, for these seven weeks, let’s do the work. Let’s join the worldwide spiritual training camp of sefirat haomer and develop ourselves as much as we can.

Every effort we put forth will be met with siyata dishmaya, help from Heaven. YAHUAH will help us. He will help us learn and grow to become better people. All we need to do is try.

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