Monday, April 27, 2020

Counting the Days

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen
(first posted as part of Sefirat Ha'Omer: Hunkering Down, Harvesting Lessons from the Pandemic

The evening of April 27 is Hod she b'Tiferet, the 19thday of counting the Omer. The following reflection by considers hod /humility, acknowledgment in the context of tiferet /compassion, beauty during this time of social distancing and staying at home.

We are counting, counting the days, from Pesach to Shavuot, from the barley harvest to the wheat harvest. But we are also counting the days, the days of hunkering down at home, the days of being alone, or alone with our families, or of going to work and wondering on what day we will test positive for COVID-19.

Counting the Omer, we know we are counting only until 49, and that on the 50th day, we will once again – B”H, experience revelation and understand a little bit better what it means to stand at Sinai and receive a give of profound proportions.

But we don't know how many days we will be living a life of confinement and connection only via telephone and video chats, Zoom gatherings for meeting and prayer, and sitting on opposite sides of the street to chat with our neighbors. We don't know how many days we will be counting rising death tolls and unemployment. We don't know.

There is beauty and compassion out there – we hear it in the music played by orchestras, each member at home; we hear of it with neighbors helping neighbors; we hear of it with giving up our of wealth to share with those who are most vulnerable; we hear of it every day, beneath the roar of politics, blaming, and shaming. Tieferetis alive and well.

And so, let us find our humility, our ability to acknowledge our limits, to give us the strength and courage to contribute to the compassion and beauty being expressed all around us. Let us find the humility that will give us the strength and the courage to keep going, counting the days, one day at a time, we don't know until when, to count the Omer, and then, if we must, to count the days from Shavuot to Rosh HaShanah, and then to Simchat Torah, and then onward to Hanukkah. Let us find the humility to know that we are not so incredibly important that we must physically go out into the world and endanger others. Let us settle into hod she b'tiferet for as along as it takes. 

Rabbi Katy Allen is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors all year long, and the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Jewish Climate Action Network-MA. She is a board certified chaplain and a former hospital and hospice chaplain and now considers herself an eco-chaplain. She received her ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Yonkers, NY in 2005 and lives in Wayland, MA with her spouse, Gabi Mezger, who leads the singing at Ma'yan Tikvah. 

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