Week 7: Reaching Revelation | 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 REACHING REVELATION.

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.

Exodus 14:31 – Leaving Egypt

וַיַּ֨רְא יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל אֶת־הַיָּ֣ד הַגְּדֹלָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשָׂ֤ה יְהֹוָה֙ בְּמִצְרַ֔יִם וַיִּֽירְא֥וּ הָעָ֖ם אֶת־יְהֹוָ֑ה וַיַּֽאֲמִ֙ינוּ֙ בַּֽיהֹוָ֔ה וּבְמֹשֶׁ֖ה עַבְדּֽוֹ׃

And when Israel saw the wondrous power which יהוה had wielded against the Egyptians, the people feared יהוה; they had faith in יהוה and in God’s servant Moses.

When the Israelites left Egypt, they followed a God who brought redemption. They feared all that the Holy One was capable of. As they journeyed through the Red Sea and began wandering in the desert, the Israelites learned what they needed to survive and how community and faith would sustain them. It was challenging. These first steps taught the Israelites that they were free for the first time in several generations and that Moses was a steadfast leader with constant guidance from God. The time from redemption to revelation was a time of learning, growing, and building. Despite their growth, receiving revelation was only the beginning for the Israelites.

Exodus 19:3-8 – Reaching Revelation

וּמֹשֶׁ֥ה עָלָ֖ה אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִ֑ים וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֵלָ֤יו יְהֹוָה֙ מִן־הָהָ֣ר לֵאמֹ֔ר כֹּ֤ה תֹאמַר֙ לְבֵ֣ית יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְתַגֵּ֖יד לִבְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ אַתֶּ֣ם רְאִיתֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר עָשִׂ֖יתִי לְמִצְרָ֑יִם וָאֶשָּׂ֤א אֶתְכֶם֙ עַל־כַּנְפֵ֣י נְשָׁרִ֔ים וָאָבִ֥א אֶתְכֶ֖ם אֵלָֽי׃
וְעַתָּ֗ה אִם־שָׁמ֤וֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ בְּקֹלִ֔י וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֑י וִהְיִ֨יתֶם לִ֤י סְגֻלָּה֙ מִכׇּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים כִּי־לִ֖י כׇּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃וְאַתֶּ֧ם תִּהְיוּ־לִ מַמְלֶ֥כֶת כֹּהֲנִ֖ים וְג֣וֹי קָד֑וֹשׁ אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תְּדַבֵּ֖ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ וַיָּבֹ֣א מֹשֶׁ֔ה וַיִּקְרָ֖א לְזִקְנֵ֣י הָעָ֑ם וַיָּ֣שֶׂם לִפְנֵיהֶ֗ם אֵ֚ת כׇּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר צִוָּ֖הוּ יְהֹוָֽה׃וַיַּעֲנ֨וּ כׇל־הָעָ֤ם יַחְדָּו֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה נַעֲשֶׂ֑ה וַיָּ֧שֶׁב מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־דִּבְרֵ֥י הָעָ֖ם אֶל־יְהֹוָֽה׃

And Moses went up to God. יהוה called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob and declare to the children of Israel: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Me. Now, if you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples. Indeed, all the earth is Mine, but you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation to Me.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Moses came and summoned the elders of the people and put before them all that יהוה had commanded him. All those assembled answered as one, saying, “All that יהוה has spoken, we will do!” And Moses brought back the people’s words to יהוה.

Over the past six weeks, we have embodied this same journey. We began over Passover, reflecting on where we find ourselves in our personal journey and what we are called to do. Since then, we have asked ourselves questions to move forward and find redemption. Reaching revelation looks different for each one of us. We reach and aspire beyond the moment at Sinai. We can still learn from our ancestors that journeying together as a community brings strength. Even though the experience has been different, we left Egypt together, and in the coming week, we will receive Torah together.

Knead Words of Torah – Rabbi Debra Robbins

At Sinai, after forty-nine days of counting,
seven weeks of seven days,
from the day after Passover to the day before Shavuot,
we embrace a new kind of nourishment.
Another inspired gift to us,
Words, like grain,
sustain bodies and fuel imaginations.
Family stories,
with flawed ancestors and inspirational characters,
fill the mind with memories and motivation.
Mitzvot, ethical obligations and ritual responsibilities,
timebound and timeless,
compel us, choose life and blessing,
for ourselves and others.

Psalm 104:14-16

You water the mountains from Your lofts; the earth is sated from the fruit of Your work.
You make the grass grow for the cattle and herbage for human labor that they may get food out of the earth—
Wine that rejoices the human heart, making the face glow brighter than oil, and bread – sustaining the human heart.

Week 7: June 4 – 10

This final week of the Omer is an opportunity to reflect on reaching revelation. What does it mean to reach? What does revelation feel like? And throughout each day, how can we continue to reach for more?

Day 43 – June 4

Read the excerpts from Exodus. Reflect on where you were six weeks ago, and where you are now. How do you see your progress along the way? 

Day 44 – June 5

Read the excerpt from Rabbi Robbins. Torah is both the destination of this journey, and a source of nourishment. What else have been goals along the way, and sources of nourishment?

Day 45 – June 6

Read the excerpt from Psalms 104. Envision all the sources of sustenance around you and reflect on what has brought joy throughout this process. 

Day 46 – June 7

Read the excerpts from Exodus. Reflect on the question: What would it take for you to be like the Israelites, so willing to follow their faith? 

Day 47 – June 8

Read the excerpt from Rabbi Robbins. Reflect on the question: What will motivate you next?

Day 48 – June 9

Take time to meditate on how this moment, while it was a destination from the last seven weeks, can now serve as a beginning for the next goal.  

Day 49 – June 10

Celebrate the festival of Shavuot with Temple Beth El! 

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