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Week 2: Healing | Counting the Omer with Rabbi Debra Robbins

The 49 days between Passover and Shavuot are called the Omer, and represent our journey from redemption to revelation, where we receive the gift of Torah. These days are seen as a time of spiritual preparation, reflection, and anticipation, symbolizing the journey from physical freedom to spiritual enlightenment.

Each week of the Omer, you will receive an email with a theme, using excerpts from the psalms and from Rabbi Debra Robbins’ book, New Each Day. We invite you to choose any of the exercises to help you on your personal journey from Sea to Sinai, from redemption to revelation. 

This week’s theme is HEALING. 

We invite you to begin with the blessing for counting the Omer, sung by our cantors.

Then, read “A Poem on Healing” by Katherine Gekker, the continuation of Psalm 104, and the excerpt from Rabbi Robbins below. 

We hope you enjoy this video of our cantorial team singing about counting the Omer.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha’Olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tizivanu al sefirat ha’omer.

Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the omer.

A Poem on Healing – Katherine Gekker

I’m feeling a little impatient,
even though it’s only been two weeks.
I’m eager to walk my dogs again,
ride my bicycle,
return to work.
Instead I’m napping
(not even reading).
I just watched the cardinal
who built her nest outside our window
last spring return.
She was eyeing last year’s handiwork.
I hope she rebuilds.

One of the challenges with something like the Omer is the natural tendency for impatience. Last week we might have heard an exciting message and decided to take this journey. There is eagerness to reaching something, or somewhere, better.

However, in order to truly move forward, we must recognize that there is healing work to do. The Israelites did not simply cross through the sea with Torah in their arms. Their steps to Sinai required them to begin healing from years of affliction in order to be ready to receive Torah.

רַ֡ק הִשָּׁ֣מֶר לְךָ֩ וּשְׁמֹ֨ר נַפְשְׁךָ֜ מְאֹ֗ד

“Just take utmost care of yourself and watch your soul diligently”

– Deuteronomy 4:9 

The verse from Deuteronomy reminds us that our soul is the most delicate part of our being. It requires special care and dedication. Throughout the next week of the Omer, take time to listen to your soul. Allow yourself to search for healing. Only then can we begin to reach towards revelation.

We invite you to begin with the blessing for counting the Omer, sung by our cantors. Then, read the continuation of Psalm 104, and an excerpt from Rabbi Robbins below. 

Psalm 104:6-12

You covered it with the deep like a mantle–
The waters stood up on the mountains.
They ran away from Your rebuke,
They hurried off from the sound of Your thunder.
Mountains rose up, valleys dropped down 
To the very place You had established for them.
You set up a boundary they could not cross,
So they could not roar back to deluge the earth.
You are the One who sends forth streams
into river valleys
That meander among the mountains.
They give water to every beast of the field;
The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Above them hover the heavenly flocks,
From among the foliage they send forth their voice. 

Streams of Healing – Rabbi Debra Robbins

Healer, You are Always the One,
who sends the streams to:
quench thirst with water,
soothe souls with sound,
nourish all life with blessing.

Your water, infused with the essence of Creation,
falls from above, bubbles from below, flows in all directions,
until all are satisfied.
Enough to heal what ails the world:
prescriptions for the plagues of incivility, inequity, and injustice,
balms for broken bodies,
stitches for torn hearts,
breath from the beginning, to clear muddles minds.

Week 2: April 30 – May 6

We hope that these exercises will help you find healing from the Holy One and within.

Day 8 – April 30

Read the excerpt from Psalm 104 and reflect on where you have found healing in the past. What strength do you find from God in nature?

Day 9 – May 1

Read the excerpt from Rabbi Robbins and reflect on what healing has looked and felt like in the past. 

Day 10 – May 2

Read the excerpt from Psalm 104 and reflect on where you might look for healing now. What strength do you find in yourself when you are outside? 

Day 11 – May 3

Read the excerpt from Rabbi Robbins and reflect on the role of the Holy One in moments of transition.

Day 12 – May 4

Read the poem by Katherine Gekker and journal on the last line “I hope she rebuilds”. 

Day 13 – May 5

Both Psalm 104 and Rabbi Robbins mention nature, and finding the Holy One through nature. What image, whether from one of the excerpts or simply in your own mind, represents your journey forward?

Day 14 – May 6

Rabbi Robbins mentions different plagues in the world, with a prayer that there is enough in God’s essence to bring forth healing. What else do you need for your soul to take the next steps towards revelation?

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