It’s time Jews begin counting. Start to count to correct your life.
Not how many days we have been sheltering at home, though that has been many.
Not how many days until we can safely leave our home, though scientists and medical experts suggest that number will need to be much longer than we would imagine or prefer.
With the second night of Passover, Jews worldwide began S’firat HaOmer (the counting the Omer). The Omer, an ancient measure of grain, refers to the barley offering brought to the Jerusalem Temple. Torah instructs us “you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete… until the day after the seventh week — 50 days” (Leviticus 23:15-16). On the 50th day the Festival of Shavuot commences. (BTW, I count using the Rabbi Karyn Kedar/CCARPress Omer: A Counting app and book.)
What should we be counting?
This year, during sh’nat coronavirus (the year of coronavirus), what should we be counting?
Surely we count the days between Passover’s exodus from Egypt and Shavuot’s receiving of Torah.
We also can count the meals we have shared with loved ones, meals we rushed through or skipped in the months and years B.C.E. (Before the Coronavirus Emerged).
We can count the books we have read, the new projects we have begun, and the bread we have baked, in the weeks S.C.E. (Since The Coronavirus Emerged).
We can count the renewed connections with friends and acquaintances who have leapfrogged physical and social distance by reconnecting over Zoom and FaceTime. That stunning tally brightens our lives by reenergizing our souls.
We can count the times we have remarked about the substantial silver linings in this strange sheltering at home.
This year especially, as we move from Passover to Shavuot, through the fifty days of the Omer, and as we continue to journey through these months S.C.E., let us enumerate all this and more.
Make your wilderness-wandering count
The Israelites wandered through the wilderness, counting forty years of stepping forward. We are wandering in the wilderness of our own: in our apartment, encampment, or home, and in our minds and memories. We can make our wilderness wandering count.
By counting, we make meaning during this unimaginable moment of wandering through the wilderness.
By counting, we are also reconstructing a new way of living our lives with renewed blessing.
And by counting, we just might convince ourselves that once we are able to leave our homes, we might want to hold onto some of these wholesome new behaviors to enhance our lives and deepen our love of living.
Now wouldn’t that make our wilderness wandering count as something wondrous?!
Each day, every moment, my wife Michelle November shines a light on the wondrous nature of our wandering. She even pointed me in the direction of enumerating our steps. Her love and wisdom makes my writing and living count.