Today is thirty-three days, which is four weeks and five days of the Omer. Numbers in Hebrew are represented by letters of the alphabet. The Hebrew letter lamed ל is equivalent to 30, while gimmel ג is three. Together they make 33, and the number is pronounced “Lag.” That’s how we arrive at the extremely minor holiday of Lag B’Omer!
הוד שבהוד, Hod of Hod, Splendor of Splendor.
I’ve been struggling to compose this post. It is difficult to feel the full force of Hod with lingering post-nasal drip and coughing that makes people move away from you. (I promise, I’m not contagious.)
I marvel at Birkat Ha’Shachar, the Morning Blessings. They begin every morning service, whether on a regular day or a holiday. The journey they trace in my life is so deep. It is by meditating on them, specifically on thanking God for guiding me on my life’s journey (a poetic translation of המכין מצעדי גבר Hameichin Mitzadei Gaver). I spent a Shabbat service contemplating what if I believed the Divine could guide me, what would that guidance tell me? And that’s when I heard the calling to go to rabbinical school.
During the six years between hearing that call and committing to full-time studies, I deepened my connection to these prayers. I wrestled with the idea of girding Israel with strength and crowning Israel with glory. It took years for me to get over my (misinterpretation) of the plain meaning of that text. As someone who spent decades as a peace activist, the words twisted in my head. But once I relaxed and realized these ancient prayers are not a statement about modern geo-politics, but a plea for strength and glory for the Jewish people, I melted into collective truth.
The reality of Jewish peoplehood, of the desire for resolve to continue facing incredible odds, of continuing to exist despite anti-Jewish prejudice, is profound. Even if you’re not Jewish, it takes tremendous fortitude to keep moving forward regardless of what life throws at you. Whether that is physical illness or mental fatigue.
May I continue to feel the Divine presence in my life. May I continue to have the strength to keep moving forward and may I always remember that HaShem gives strength to those who are weary.
Previously on this day in the Omer
Lag B’Omer 5778 / 2018: What is your essential prayer for yourself?
Lag B’Omer 5777 / 2017: Yearning for meaning and depth.