The Omer and Spirituality

A time to prepare for receiving the Torah.

Print this page Print this page

The sages devised a construct to help us follow in the Israelites' footsteps. It is based on seven Divine qualities in the kabbalistic design of the universe, which wererepresented by the illustrious leaders of Israel (in one variation): love (Abraham), respect (Isaac), compassion (Jacob), efficiency (Moses), beauty (Aaron), loyalty (Joseph), and leadership (David).

These virtues, in their extreme, become vices (lust, fear, indulgence, obsessiveness, vanity, submissiveness, and stubbornness) that we have to strive to avoid. So the sages dedicated each week of the Omer to one of the characteristics and each day of the week to one of them. The unique combination on each of the 49 days (love-love, love-respect, love-compassion… respect-love, respect-leadership, and so on) helps us gain insight into our own behavior in relation to them, and focus our efforts on self-improvement, to make each day of the Omer important.

Torah study in general is customary and appropriate. Some people read portions from every book of the Bible, and review of the Ten Commandments is common. Many read Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers), a particularly accessible section of Talmud. Study culminates in the Tikkun Leil Shavuot [all-night studying on the first evening of Shavuot], meant to make up for omissions or deficiencies in ourdevotion to Torah during the preceding year. It helps us to be particularly receptive to the body of law we will be given the next morning.

Did you like this article?  MyJewishLearning is a not-for-profit organization.

Please consider making a donation today.

Lesli Koppelman Ross is a writer and artist whose works have appeared nationally. She has devoted much of her time to the causes of Ethiopian Jewry and Jewish education.