A Message for Shavuot

by Rabbi Debra Rappaport

Are you counting the Omer? There’s not a right or wrong answer – it’s a quirky tradition we have, marking the 49 days between celebrating liberation on Passover and receiving Torah on Shavuot. It’s a very simple mitzvah, to bless and name the number of the day. Yet in the act of blessing and counting, we have the opportunity to take a moment in each day and appreciate the passing of time.

As we near Shavuot, this week’s Torah portion (Bemidbar) emphasizes the process of counting through a census of the Israelites. It’s as if to lift up the message: pay attention, notice!

Marge Piercy, in The Art of Blessing the Day, writes, “But the discipline of blessings is to taste each moment, the bitter, the sour, the sweet and the salty, and be glad for what does not hurt. The art is in compressing attention to each little and big blossom of the tree of life, to let the tongue sing each fruit, its savor, its aroma and its use.”

Whether we have been counting the Omer or not, every day presents countless (word repetition intended) opportunities to bless, by bringing mindful awareness to what is actually alive and real in any given moment. And to choosing how we will respond.

Our intention for Hineni Adult Learning & Contemplative Practices is to bring mindful awareness to all of our learning. Some of our classes center around what is considered “contemplative practice,” like Sara Lynn’s weekly meditation sessions. Others provide opportunities to wake up to the present moment through how we learn together, bringing intentionality to our listening, our awareness, our questions.