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Friday, May 07, 2004

Blog the Omer

During the 49 day period between Passover and Shavous, Jews around the world count each day in a process known as the counting of the Omer. Originally this time was one of joy, but during the time after the destruction of the Second Temple 24,000 students of the great Rabbi Akiva died - and now the Jewish People observe a great part of this period in mourning. It hits home in that we don't listen to music or have any sort of celebration during this time.

The 33rd day of this period (which falls out on Mother's Day) is known as L'ag B'Omer (which means 33rd day of the Omer) and is a day of great celebration and (for many) marks the end of the period of mourning. On this day, Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai, author of the mystical books of the Zohar died. For more information, you might want to read The Mystery of L'ag B'Omer.

In other mystical news, Yossi Klein Halevi has the cover story in the recent New Republic titled Kabbalah goes Hollywood. He explains: How an insurance salesman from Brooklyn convinced Madonna, Demi Moore, and Britney Spears that ancient Jewish mysticism could give them spiritual consciousness, better sex, and, just possibly, eternal life. As the article points out, according to most Jewish sources, the Kabbalah taught to the stars is not exactly the real thing.

However if you are thirsting for a taste of the sublime, I heartedly recommend The Commandment of Counting by Rebbetzin Tzipporah Heller. Here is an excerpt:

A collection of events becomes a story -- as opposed to a random anthology of events -- when there is a beginning in which the characters are introduced, a middle in which conflict takes place, and an end in which there is resolution.

Our lives flow by so quickly that we frequently lose awareness of the awesome power of our own stories. The metamorphosis of today into tomorrow is subtle enough for us to lose consciousness of beginnings and ends.

The commandment to count teaches us mindfulness. It re-opens our hearts to hearing stories.

Read the whole thing and have a great weekend and a great L'ag B'Omer.