The counting of the Omer is really a forty-nine day Shmittah workshop

This week we are gifted with a powerful alignment between the Omer counting and the upcoming Torah readings about the Shemitah Sabbatical every seven years, and the Yovel Jubilee culmination, on the fiftieth year – celebrating seven full cycles of Sabbaticals.

The ideas behind Shemitah and the spiritual practice of Omer counting are two pieces of the Jewish puzzle that fit together beautifully, especially as this year is an actual Shmitah year!

Right off the bat we see a strong link. The end of every week of the Omer can correspond to a Shmitah year, and the completion of seven weeks of Omer counting, designates Shavuot, really, as a sort of annual Jubilee celebration.

How can we conceptualize this powerful symmetry, with the right personal spiritual language, in ways that it might become usable and relevant in our own important Soul work though?

The seven Shmitah cycles of leaving the earth fallow and relying with faithfulness on G-d, is actually such a strong practice that it’s still in effect today even though the bulk of the Torah agricultural Mitzvot, were linked with the temple in Jerusalem and are currently not in effect with the destruction of the temples.

What then is the powerful spiritual message of Shmittah?

The Torah of law, that drives and shapes our ongoing quest for personal growth and equilibrium, must also be trusted to be a Torah of love, one that provides us with a wealth of strong spiritual symbols that help us navigate the challenges we encounter along that journey.

One of the greatest barriers to living more soulfully, lies in the way we rely, excessively, if not exclusively, on our outer side – our attachments, the different “crops” that we plant throughout the “fields” of our lives.

If we find that we are looking exclusively outward for inspiration – and we all know the ways that we do that in our own lives, whether its the way we find safety in the accumulation of things, or the ways that we lean on other people in an unhealthy fashion, then we know its time for Shmitah – time to cut the umbilical cord that ties us to our artificial souls.

A time to realize that transplanted soulfulness, can never successfully replace our real souls. So Shmitah awareness – pulls us away from being overly attached, and defined exclusively by the outside world.

The counting of the Omer from this perspective, is a 49 day personal Shmittah workshop.

If so, then Shavuot is when we graduate this course successfully, and truly celebrate the possibilities for renewal. Shavuot becomes the turning point for our transition into the Jubilee mindset, an opportunity to finally rid ourselves of the residual mental slaveries that we all shlep around, freeing ourselves from the destructive addiction to the other, in whatever forms we are “plagued” – learning to let go of the familiar, all too comforting, yet often, utterly destructive commitments to falsehood.

This is when we can learn to stand firmly on our own two feet, without the constant fear of falling.

This is when we get a chance to trade in some, if not all, of our outdated “Egypt” lower human awareness, replacing it with higher level “Sinai” G-dly awareness.

Only from this place, can we truly understand the existential meaning of the Biblical blessing that we receive in reward for observing Shmittah – as a gift of enlightenment.

The blessing.

“Vee- yashavtem Betach Be artzechem, You shall dwell securely in your land.” The security that we speak of aside from the obvious blessing of security for Eretz Yisroel, is the sublime gift of living in the light of our higher awareness. The reward comes in the way our faithfulness is refueled, enabling us to feel “secure” in the rightness and goodness of who we are –

plus, an acceptance of the “Bashertnes” of the totality of our lives, what we are, what we do, and the direction we are pointed in, in our life journeys – all this,

minus, the need for the whole worlds approval.

Much Love

Rabbi Yossi

About the Author
Rabbi Yossi Lipsker is the co-founder and executive Director of Chabad of the North Shore and spiritual leader of the Chabad Community Shul. He can be reached at