Counting the Omer: Contemplating God’s Manifestation In Our Lives

Orchides - lilac - edited - medium sizeLast Shabbat, on the 14th day of the Omer, our congregation was celebrating a bar mitzvah. As the music resonated throughout the room, I could feel the incredible spiritual power in community gathering together to celebrate this young man’s rite of passage.

At one point during the ceremony, three generations of his family – he, his mother, and his grandmother – came to the front of the room. The mother said a traditional bar mitzvah blessing of releasing the responsibility for her son’s sins, and the grandmother gifted him a new tallit.

Seeing these three generations gathered together, with the young man – their future – accepting the gift of this spiritual tradition from them, felt profoundly moving. In that moment, God’s presence, the Shekhina, was palpable in the room.

I noticed this in particular because in the Kabbalistic worldview, day 14 of the Omer corresponds to Malchut sheb’Gevurah – Malchut within Gevurah. Malchut, “Kingdon,” represents Shekhina – God’s presence among us. Gevura is associated with strength and power, as well as coalescence and community.

On day 14, we are asked to contemplate the meaning of Shekhina showing up through the lens of Gevura, and on that day in the case of our congregation, that expression was obvious. The spirit, Shekhina, was very much on display that Shabbat as our community coalesced around this young man.

Having a basic understanding of the Kabbalistic view of the structure of the universe can be profoundly meaningful as we count the Omer – particularly if we become aware of how that understanding applies to our lives. Having that understanding can mean the difference between a mechanistic ritual of counting and one that helps us perceive God’s manifestation in every moment of our lives.

Counting each day with this framework in mind helps us feel the holiness of each day and of everything that it contains – the holiness of all creation.


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