One of the most remarkable contributions of Judaism to the world has been its unique practice of infusing sacred meaning into ancient life cycle celebrations.
A fine example of this is the way in which Jews have interpreted and lived out the command in Leviticus 23:15-16 to “count off seven weeks” between the offering of an omer of barley to the time of the first offering of wheat.
On the surface, this appears to be a transition from one agricultural festival to another, from the spring to the summer, perhaps with gratitude to God for the grains from those seasons that sustain our lives.
Such a reading has meaning and is worthy on its own.
Yet, the text has been read to mean so much more.
What is seen at this deeper level is the need to count and appreciate the days between the time when God redeemed us from Egypt and the time when God revealed the Instruction at Mt. Sinai.
In other words, in our thoughts and spirits, we are to marvel daily from the time marked as that of the miracle of God’s redeeming us to the time when the purpose of that redemption is manifested.
We are redeemed to be God’s people. We are redeemed to be in covenant with God. We are redeemed to become a kingdom of priests and holy nation in the world. We are redeemed to hear God’s Instruction and be committed to living true to it and God’s expectations of us.
That’s a lot to contemplate, to understand, and to commit to ways by which we honor and commemorate our gratitude and the Divine call.
There are so many ideas that have been generated over the centuries on how we can well count these weeks. One of the loveliest has been the daily spiritual meditations developed by Simon Jacobson and published by Chabad.org.
A general account of these meditations is set out below. And the link to the meditation for Friday night, May 20, 2016, the 28th day this year, is in the second link below.
Check it out and imagine the beauty and meaning of a 50 day journey in which one reflects on these moral aspirations and readies oneself in ways to live by them.
We marvel at the grains from the earth that sustain us from season to season. And we marvel at the life God has given us to use from season to season in a manner true to Divine purposes.