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Week 4: Joy | 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 JOY.

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

Then, read the excerpts and poems 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.

Marie Kondo

In the KonMari Method™, your feelings are the standard for decision making – specifically, knowing what sparks joy. To determine this when tidying, the key is to pick up each object one at a time, and ask yourself quietly, “Does this spark joy?” Pay attention to how your body responds. Joy is personal so that everyone will experience it differently; Marie describes it as “…a little thrill, as if the cells in your body are slowly rising.”

By selecting only those things that inspire joy, you can identify precisely what you love – and what you need.

There is a common tradition that spring brings spring cleaning. Cleaning the kitchen for Passover or making room in the closet is an opportunity to eliminate the old and make space for the new. With her method, Marie Kondo taught that we all should aspire only to have things that bring joy. To do this, we must first reflect on what exactly brings us joy.

So far, through the Omer, we have experienced an awakening. There has been space for healing and changing our perspective of the weight we carry through life. Perhaps some weight has been let go and discarded along the way. And now, reaching the halfway point in the journey to Torah and revelation, we search for joy.

וַתִּקַּח֩ מִרְיָ֨ם הַנְּבִיאָ֜ה אֲח֧וֹת אַהֲרֹ֛ן אֶת־הַתֹּ֖ף בְּיָדָ֑הּ וַתֵּצֶ֤אןָ כׇֽל־הַנָּשִׁים֙ אַחֲרֶ֔יהָ בְּתֻפִּ֖ים וּבִמְחֹלֹֽת׃

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with their timbrels and prayers.

– Exodus 15:20

Psalm 48:10-12

We have meditated on Your covenantal love 
In the innermost parts of Your Temple.
Like Your name, God, so is Your praise, to 
the ends of the earth;
Your right hand is filled with justice.
Let Mount Zion rejoice,
Let the daughters of Judah be glad 
Because of Your judgments.

Miriam’s Story – Rabbi Debra Robbins

Imagine.
The women of Israel expanding the circle
down, around through,
her streets and gates.
Dancing with their daughter on the walls and across the rooftops.
Smiles wide, hands joined, voices raised
in praise to their God.
One circling energetic supportive community.
They sing their story, of phenomenal women,
long before Maya Angelou sang of the joy in her feet.
Music and melody long lost, their words endure in
the echo of sandals on stone,
the reflection of light on ramparts,
the grip of strong hands,
sweat and the sweet smiles,
the embodied memory of our people.
Rejoice in the tales of women, who together with God,
lead us,
throughout time and space.

Week 4: May 14 – 20

As we continue through the desert this week, imagine yourself as Miriam. With a timbrel in your hand, each step is followed by music. Redemption in its most spiritual and freeing moment, can still be a time for joy and celebration. 

Day 22 – May 14

Read the excerpt from Rabbi Robbins and imagine. What pathway would you take if you simply chose the path of joy?

Day 23 – May 15

Read the excerpt from Psalm 48. How are joy and justice connected in this moment of your life?

Day 25 – May 16

Nearly halfway through the journey, take a moment to reflect on where you were on day one and where you are today. Has your destination changed? What is joyful on the path in front of you?

Day 26 – May 17

Read Miriam’s Story with a chevruta, a learning partner. Together, reflect on how celebrating joy differs when done in a community. How can you support others through their personal journey?

Day 26 – May 18

Read Psalm 48 with a pen, pencil, or marker in your hand. Meditate on your covenantal relationship with the Holy One in words, pictures, or prayer. 

Day 27 – May 19

Take an action step today and engage in a small spring cleaning project, whether physical or emotional. Reflect on what is gained when you choose to surround yourself with joy. 

Day 28 – May 20

Choose an excerpt to read and offer a personal prayer to guide your journey and propel you toward joy. 

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