“Sefirat HaOmer”, he messaged me from his corona infected room.
I couldn’t believe I almost forgot to count the first night of the Omer.
I love counting the Omer.
Perhaps it’s my OCD, but I prefer to think it’s more than that.
I tend to feel a bit down the day after the Seder. It’s anticlimactic in nature.
All the hard work and all the anticipation. How will this night turn out?
I’m always surprised. No two Seders have ever been the same for me.
As I change so does my Seder experience.
In addition, I was born on the second night of Pesach during the Seder which deeply resonates with my core identity. I have always felt on the brink between slavery and freedom but never quite knew how to cross over. Much like the Israelites, desperate for freedom when they left Egypt, as they screamed out waiting for salvation from above.
When I made aliyah I was saddened when the second night of Pesach arrived and my Hebrew birthday no longer aligned with the Seder. My identity had been so connected to the Seder night – “who am I now?”, I thought.
I had not realized that when I made Aliyah I left that part of my identity behind.
I crossed over that sea.
I was now home.
I was free to live the life I craved. I was free to build a better me.
It dawned on me. I know who I am.
“I am she who starts the count.”
It might not be the Seder but it is still the night we begin to count the Omer.
This night is referred to as Chesed she b’Chesed and that is how I have known God for He created me on that very day when He shed His loving-kindness on me which has never run out.
I am she who has been freed to begin the counting of 49 days until we receive the Torah, on Shavuot. The Torah which has been my guide, my passion, my letters from God, my life. I count because I know how hard it is to undergo the trauma of “slavery” and be left with nothing to fill that void. I count because I know that once I get to that pivotal moment I will hold in my hands and in my heart the life force that animates me to be in the image of my Creator.
I count because it is not merely numbers I am building on, but my character as well.
I count how many ways I can emulate God. On my birthday it is Chesed sheb’Chesed but one day I will get to Malchut sheb’Malchut – I hope – but even if I don’t I know the Torah will be there – waiting for me
And that is why I love to count the Omer.