Omer—Counting

Beginning with the second night of Pesach we count the Omer until we arrive in our calendar at Shavuot. To help you with the counting, we have prepared a leaflet for you with a calendar, the blessings and the numbers (download link below and available in the Shul).

Traditionally the Omer is counted in the evening, after sunset.

Chag Sameach

COUNTING THE OMER 2019 PDF FILE

 

Mark the Omer time in a significant way

Many of us know that Passover takes place during the Hebrew month of Nisan. In contrast, most of us do not know that the month of Nisan also includes another observance which begins on the second day of Passover. In ancient times, as set forth in the Book of Leviticus, our ancestors would start bringing a ceremonial measure of barley, called an “omer” to the Temple on each of the 49 days between the 15th of Nisan and Erev Shavuot (the 6th of Sivan). The number 49 has special significance in Jewish tradition because it constitutes a week of weeks (7×7), a significant number in the story of creation and in the beliefs of the Jewish mystics.  According to the rabbis of the Talmud, these 49 days also represent the length of the journey from Exodus from Egypt to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

According to Jewish tradition, the “Counting of the Omer [Hebrew: Sefirat HaOmer ]” represents a spiritual journey from slavery to freedom and from chaos to the giving of the law. In the absence of the Jerusalem Temple, many Jewish communities have sought to imbue the counting of the Omer with daily spiritual significance. We at Bet David have adopted the Kehillah feeding scheme as a way to mark this time in a significant way.

I believe that education is one of the major ways to empower all parts of our society and to fulfil the dream of Nelson Mandela of a better South Africa. However, we have seen that many families still struggle on a daily basis to put food on the table because education is expensive and, too often, after paying the school fees there isn’t enough money left for a decent meal for those learners.

Several years ago, a former student of our own Mitzvah school started a feeding scheme in Alex, in an attempt to combat this situation. By providing one full, hot meal a day for more than 200 children, she managed to take away some of the burden those families have to carry every day.

With each parcel donated, we bring a little bit of healing (Tikkun) into our world.  Please support Kehillah also this year generously. May we, on our journey from Pesach to Shavuot, bring some additional light into the world.

Chag Pesach Seamach – Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Bet David Kehillah’s Omer Project

Counting of the Omer begins on Sunday, 21 April for 50 days in support of Kehillah’s Feeding Schemes. Place your name and those of your loved ones on the list to donate one day’s food parcel for only R100 to Kehillah. Sign up on the sheet on the notice board in the Bet David Gallery, or call the shul office.  Please EFT to Bet David Sisterhood, Nedbank Sandton Account 1970476214, branch 197005.

Thank you for your great support!

 

 

 

50 days that can help so many

At Bet David, we have found an additional way to give meaning to the traditional way of counting of the Omer. When we count the omer, we give 50 days of hope.

I believe that education is one of the major ways to empower all parts of our society and to fulfil the dream of so many for a South Africa with an amazing future. Our Mitzvah school is the living proof of our efforts to implement this dream into reality. However, I have seen that many families still struggle on a daily basis just to put food on the table. Education is unfortunately very expensive and, too often, after paying the school fees there isn’t enough money left for a decent meal for the families and the learners.

Several years ago, a former student of the Mitzvah school started a feeding scheme in Alex to combat this situation.  By providing one full hot meal a day for more than 200 children, she managed to take away some of the burden those families have to carry every day.

Bet David’s Kehillah – with the help from many of you –  has financed and carried this feeding scheme since its inception. Nevertheless, Kehillah still need your support for this programme. They need the best we can give, our money. Please join me and become a sponsor of one or more food parcels for the feeding scheme.

Add your name and those of your loved ones on the list of supporters. One day’s food parcel has the value of only R100. Sign up sheets can be found in the shul or contact Glynnis during office hours. EFT to Sisterhood, Nedbank Sandton, Account 1970476214, branch 197005, and send your proof of payment to admin1@betdavid.org.za.

Thank you for your great support!

חג פסח כשר ושמח        Chag Pesach Kasher v’Samei’ach  

Rabbi Adrian M Schell     

 

Bechukotai and LagBaOmer

The torah portion for this Shabbat is Bechukotai (Lev. 26.3-27.34):

God promises that if Israel will keep the commandments, they will enjoy material prosperity and dwell secure in their homeland. But God also delivers a harsh warning of the exile, persecution and other evils that will befall them if they abandon their covenant with the Eternal. Nevertheless,

Yet, even then, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away; nor will I ever abhor them, to destroy them and to break My covenant with them; for I am the Eternal their God. (Lev 26.44)

This torah portion opens many questions for us, especially how we could understand the biblical idea of punishment and blessings, and how we should understand it today. What we can learn from the description is a better understanding of a messianic time: A time full of blessings – a world in balance. A world where we get enough for what we worked for. A world without shortage of food, and a world where God is in our midst and men walk free and erected. I can find comfort in these lines, because the vision of a messianic age doesn’t appear unreachable to me. This messianic world is not restricted to some gods or supermen residing on the top of a mountain or on the other side of the sea. It is in our hands to start the process, and to fulfill the visions of the torah and the prophets.

***

On Sunday we will mark the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer which commenced on the second night of Pesach and will conclude on the 49th day with the festival of Shavuot. The 33rd day is Lag B’omer; the day that tradition holds as a marker in this counting cycle due to the purported lifting of a plague amongst the disciples of Rabbi Akiva in the 2nd century.

Rabbi Michael Shire wrote the following explanation I’d like to share with you:

So the 33rd day is a stop in the on-going counting much like the momentary pause of an old clock as it reaches 12 and prepares to go round again. On our journey from Pesach to Shavuot, from Egypt to Sinai, from slavery to freedom we symbolically walk away from the things that oppress us and towards release of harmful habits, destructive behaviours, self-defeat or our own oppressions. … Peter Senge, the management guru, in his book ‘Presence’ indicates that in order to “let go”, we have to look back and pause on what we have learned from our past experiences. By pausing, we come into a state of ‘presence’ and in that state, we allow something else to “let come”. New insights, new hopes, new ambitions and a new way of looking at the reality around us can be part of this process. …
Counting of the Omer may seem one of those strange anachronistic Jewish folkways but it may just be another way to understand ourselves and our journeys through life arriving at Shavuot in order to let Torah come to us in a new and inspired way.