We'll be working sometimes with the kabbalistic paradigm which assigns to each week of the Omer, and to each day within each week, one of seven qualities which we and God share (chesed / lovingkindness, gevurah / boundaried strength, and so on) -- and sometimes with the Mussar paradigm which assigns to each day of the Omer one of the 48 qualities with which one acquires Torah (attentive listening, joy, humility, and so on). My intention is to use both of these paradigms as lenses for the real focus of our study, which is the inner work which each of us needs to do in order to be ready to receive Torah at Shavuot.
Of course, I'll be sharing with them excerpts from my cherished collection of Omer books, among them Rabbi Min Kantrowitz's Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide, Rabbi Jill Hammer's Omer Calendar of Biblical Women, Rabbi Yael Levy's Journey through the Wilderness, Shifrah Tobacman's Omer/Teshuvah, and Rabbi Simon Jacobson's The Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer.
I'm also handing out this colorful Omer chart; a teaching from the Slonimer rebbe about how Pesach lifts us to spiritual heights and then the Omer gives us the opportunity to make that climb under our own power; an excerpt from an essay by Rabbi Elliot Ginsburg about leaping and waiting; some Omer teachings from Rabbi Chava Bahle; and this annotated edition of Pirkei Avot 6:6. I'll also be sharing some links with that group, and I figured I'd post them here, too, for anyone who's interested.
Here's the first one:
There’s a place, halfway between now and tomorrow. It’s the place where the road shifts, where time slows and choices open into every possibility, every future.
There’s a place, halfway between Egypt and Sinai. It’s the place where the echoes of slavery fade, the music of freedom begins its song and the thunder of G-d’s voice can almost be heard...
Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan offers an excellent introduction to the Omer. In her first post of this year, she explains:
Last year I reflected in dialogue with the writings of the Ramak, Kabbalistic teacher Rabbi Moses Cordovero (1522-1570). This year, I am exploring the names of the sefirot as they appear in their original contexts in the Tanakh, Hebrew Bible.
Each exploration showcases a different facet of the week’s quality, and suggests a different focus for spiritual self-questioning, action, and growth.
Chesed: risky love and kindness, offered in a situation that might be tricky, dangerous, or emotionally fraught. An act of chesed may have only a long shot at success but, if it succeeds, it has a far-reaching effect. At least, that’s how our Biblical ancestors spoke of chesed...
That's from her post Chesed | Love and Kindness.
Rabbi Leila Gal Berner has written a poem for the Omer which I think is terrific:
wandering in the wilderness
where the Holy One
will entrust us with
If you're looking for daily Omer meditations which will come to you via email (and which will remind you to count each day!), I'm receiving two and can recommend both. One is from Mishkan / A Way In; the other is from Journey of the Soul: Making the Omer Count. Also, Rabbi David Seidenberg of NeoHasid.org has created an Omer app which is available for iPhone and for Droid.
May your journey through the Omer be fruitful.