Counting the Omer for Activists: Week 1
Between Passover and Shavuot, our tradition offers us a practice called the Counting the Omer, or Sefirat Ha’Omer. This time is sacred, and profoundly spiritual. For the seven weeks between these two holidays, we mark two different experiences in time: the passage of time between the barley offering and the first wheat offering at the Temple in Jerusalem, and the transition from slavery in Egypt to true freedom with the receiving of Torah at Sinai. On Passover, we celebrate our Exodus from Egypt, and with Shavuot, we celebrate receiving the Torah, which gives purpose and direction to our freedom.
Sefirat Ha’Omer is an opportunity for reflection and spiritual growth during these seven weeks. Channeling and deepening the fleeting moment of insight and liberation allows us to experience the transformation from slaves to free people, ready to receive our Divine mandate of justice, freedom, and human dignity.
The Jewish mystical tradition has imbued this time with deeper spiritual meaning by creating a system of ‘counting’ that can help us experience different aspects of the Divine. These aspects are represented by the Kabbalistic system of sefirot, a structure representing the ten emanations through which God is revealed to us. Doing practices in relation to seven of these ten Divine aspects helps us move from a place of pure freedom (Exodus from Egypt) to a place of true liberation, which comes with the receiving of the Torah and the establishment of a society committed to create a just and holy world. These practices have us move through this journey by having us wrestle with the world as it is and the world as it should be.
As activists, Sefirat Ha’Omer is a spiritual opportunity to engage with this fundamental political tension: What is the world that we want to see? Where do we encounter that world and what work is to be done?
Below you will find that first of seven weekly Sefirat Ha’Omer practice designed specifically activists. This is a practice I have put together with the incredible help of my teachers Rabbis Arthur Green, Ebn Leader, and Ariel Mayse. I invite you to draw on the wisdom of our Kabbalistic tradition as you deepen into your work as an activists and leader.
Week One: Chesed/Love (April 11th-17th)
Our first week of practice has us focus on the Divine aspect of Chesed. Chesed is about our outpouring of kindness, abundance, nurture, and sustenance. Or for us activists, it is about an outpouring of loving action for justice.
This is the week to ask yourself:
What is my role in achieving justice? Where can I lead, and where can I show up? How can my talents and interests be in service of the needs of the time?
It might be the week to check in with what you are already doing:
Is this the right place for me to be doing my work? Can I take on more? Can I contribute in new ways to this work or this issue?