EliNoam Horesh
One Jew, three opinions.

Jews Count Twice

This year, in the interpilgrimage period between Passover and Shavuot, Jews everywhere are counting twice. Yesterday we counted 210 days, and we counted 12 as well. On Simchat Torah, the holiday commemorating the resetting of the Pentateuchal Cycle, Hamas kidnapped 252 people. Six months on, well past the holiday of liberation, more than half of them remain in bondage. As Israel’s long war trudges on, it coincides with the Jewish Life–Cycle and impacts our understanding of our past, present, and future. 

Jews count twice. In both cases, we do so additively. The Omer is counted up, for we believe that the maturation of the Jewish People at Sinai, in preparation for the receiving of our Torah, was a cumulative process, wherein our strength and virtue appreciated over time. We count up the days since October 7th, ostensibly because the suffering of the hostages seems interminable, and we don’t know how many days they will remain there. Our strength and unity are shaken as their circumstances become ever more dire. These two counts serve opposing goals, one building us up, one tearing us down.

We are in the period of religious and national holidays. Our identity is reforged early each summer through legends of bravery, faith, unity, and devotion. However, we are also now living through history, actively promoting new figures to the Jewish Canon, those who will stand beside the likes of Yael, Samson, and King Manasseh. These new canonical figures in the Israeli conscience are falling into place about the spokes of the Jewish Calendar. Their birthdays, yahrzeits, and the dates of their heroisms are being interwoven with the preexisting cycle. New names, events, times, and places will be writ in the annals of our history like the Maharal, Storms in the Negev, 1492, or Safed, reiterated every year. 

All of this is to say that, upon review, history will be kind to us. In the present we count, achingly and interminably upwards, but Jewish History is ultimately nonlinear. It is coiled like a spring, returns on itself, and serves as an eternal source of strength that pours over us. God willing, next year we will look back with the certainty of hindsight, to honor the bravery and strength of newly minted heroes, and find progressive, cumulative strength in overcoming our enemies and returning our hostages from the clutches of peril. 

About the Author
EliNoam is an Israeli-American student of Economics and Political Science at Hebrew University and Jerusalem Volunteer Coordinator for the "Big Brother For Lone Soldiers" program. He is a former field intelligence specialist in the IDF, and a Sergeant Major in active reserves. Opinions and analyses are exclusively EliNoam's, and do not reflect the positions or policies of his employers.