Sefirat Ha-Omer--Time As Text
Our changing observance of the period between Passover and Shavuot reflects our sensitivity to the realities of our history.
Crucially, however, the Jewish people also never erased anything. The more recent events which occurred during the Omer period, and our responses to them, were never allowed to supercede the older ones; they live, like commentaries and addendum on a page of Talmud, side by side, together, vying perhaps for our attention, but all given equal time.
This openness to the realities of our history, this willingness to notice and respond communally to events as they occur in the real world, and not only to see the world through the prism of pre-ordained understandings is, I believe, a particularly Jewish genius. The way we relate to time is multi-layered. Our past, our present, our future, are all here, with us. Nothing old is forgotten; nothing new is ignored. New events, sometimes contradictory ones, are assimilated into our personal and communal consciousness, as we try to balance our mourning of old tragedies with our celebration of new triumphs.
I sometimes think that those elements of the Jewish community who remain, for whatever reasons, locked into old, narrow, unchanging views of Jewish history and Jewish life fail, in some profound way, to understand this message. For those of us who celebrate them, the holidays of Yom Ha'atzma'ut and Yom Yerushalayim spice our memory of the failure of Rabbi Akiba and Bar Kochba to free themselves of Roman rule with the joy of the modern Jewish victory over a would-be oppressor, and the liberation of Jerusalem.
All of these events which occurred during the Sefirat Ha'omer period, along with everything else that we have gone through as a people, are remembered, commemorated, felt. They are, in fact, through our yearly experience of them, happening, again and again, in our memory and our imagination, as we continue to try to make sense of the unfolding text of Jewish history.
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