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Week 6: Answering | 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 ANSWERING.

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.

Where Thunder Hides – Rabbi Debra Robbins

The Psalmist says,
“God says…
‘I [God] answer you [human in narrow constrained places]
from the place where thunder hides.’ ”

When thunder hides, is it noisy?
Compacted condensation gathering energy
to explode, to crash, to boom and echo from the sky.
Isn’t it noisy, impossible to hide?

There is an old adage that an answer is in the last place you look. The reason is that once you find something, you will stop looking. But this week, Rabbi Robbins adds another layer to the adage. Just because you know where the answer comes from, does not mean it is always accessible to reach. Thunder is a booming noise that tells us how close lightning will hit. The lightning is what we can see, not thunder. So how can The Holy One be in a place where noise hides? This week’s steps from Sea to Sinai remind us that we must be open to seeking the answers we have been searching for to realize redemption. 

Psalm 81: 8-9

In trouble you called, and I rescued you,
I answered you in the place where thunder hides;
I tried you at the waters of Meribah– selah!
Here, My People, and I will testify to you,
Israel– if you would listen to Me!

The Wizard of Oz

“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard; because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!”

– Dorothy Gale

Albert Einstein

“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

Week 6: May 28 – June 3

This week’s steps from Sea to Sinai remind us that we must be open to seeking the answers we have been searching for to realize redemption. 

Day 36 – May 28

The excerpt from Psalm 81 is written from the perspective of the Holy One when an individual is in distress. Reflect on how you hear answers when you are calm compared to when you might be in distress.

Day 37 – May 29

The quotes from The Wizard of Oz and Albert Einstein discuss how we look for answers to questions. What happens when you come across an answer as opposed to when you look for one? What changes when you take an active role in pursuing answers?

Day 38 – May 30

In the excerpt from Rabbi Robbins, she asks, “When thunder hides, is it noisy”? What does this question mean? How does it challenge you? Reflect on how you answer the questions along your journey and how different senses might enable you to find different answers.

Day 39 – May 31

Consider the quote from Albert Einstein. What answer are you looking for, and what question or questions do you think will help you reach it?

Day 40 – June 1

Spend five minutes journaling, only writing questions. How do you feel asking questions without demanding yourself to find answers?

Day 41 – June 2

Read the excerpt from Psalm 81. Reflect on what you see as the relationship between answering and listening. 

Day 42 – June 3

As you approach the last week of the Omer, close your eyes and reflect on the lessons that you have learned through these last six weeks. How has this journey brought you closer to the redemption you seek?

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