On May 9, we enter the time of Lag B’Omer, the thirty-third day of the Omer, the 49-day period between Passover and Shavuot, the Days of Blessing.
Shavuot marks the time when we Jews were given our sacred book, the Torah. These days are days of mindful time, of mindful mitzvot, of mindfulness that readies us for the “white food” (dairy) holiday of Shavuot. I find significance in the fact that white is symbolic of purity and not a lighthearted observation about food.
I found seven categories of mindfulness that flow into and connect each other and are heightened during these days of the Omer. The seven categories of the Lag B’Omer period are:
- Chesed: Overflowing loving-kindness
- G’vurah: Judgement, justice, rigor
- Tiferet: Balance, beauty, compassion
- Netzakh: Victory, efficiency, prevailing
- Hod: Glory, splendor
- Y’sod: Foundation, intimacy, generativity (a concern for establishing and guiding the next generation)
- Malkhut: Majesty, G-d’s earthly realm
These seven categories are holy and link to each other, forming a way, a path for life and goodness. A life of kindness and appreciation. A life of timeliness. A life of the mindful marking of time while we are here. A time of blessings and moving forward.
As our religion demands, we Jews have traditionally and historically marked time by parceling it into smaller pieces – new moons, new years, new beginnings, repeating cycles. When the lunar calendar doesn’t work out as we’d like, we modify time by making it flexible, by describing the holidays as “late” one year and “early” the next.
But Shabbat comes every week to welcome the new and settle the old. It, time, allows for renewal. Renewal and beginnings and forward movement are part of our heritage and custom. We can accommodate any calendar within our own.
Lag B’Omer reminds us not only to count our blessings but also to create blessings for a better world and a better humankind. This compels us to clear our hearts and minds so that we have room for the Torah in our lives and hearts.
As a local leader in the global movement that is Hadassah, I am proud of the role my organization plays in making the world a better place. We do that by providing medical care to more than one million people of all races, religions and nationalities each year through the Hadassah Medical Organization, our medical center in Israel. We build bridges to peace through medicine – something for which the medical center earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2005 – and by providing safe spaces for healing, something more crucial than ever in today’s divided world.
Jews are a people who value momentum as we move forward through time, on occasion, as in Biblical times, performing momentous deeds and actions. We use time to evolve and to consecrate. Judaism even assigns time for grief and mourning, supporting us as we remember, regard and renew. Oddly enough, this central aspect of our religion allows us to recognize our addiction to the time-bound world of achievement, consumption, buying and selling, quantifying and comparing. It’s a powerful tool that enables us to deal with a culture that demands we be available always, with no time set aside for rest and contemplation.
As Jews, we make time, mark time and live within time. We move away from Passover through Lag B’Omer and on to Shavuot. Let’s enjoy our bounty and good time together.
Ronnie Katz Gerber is Membership & Publicity Chair, Hadassah Southern California (HSC); Education & Publicity Chair, Hadassah LA Metro; Membership & Publicity Chair, L‘Dor V’Dor Chapter; and a member of Hadassah’s Educators Council.