Few Ways To Help Remember To Count The Omer

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Any Tolkein fans will recognise Gollum’s famous riddle to the hobbit:

This thing all things devours;
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town;
And beats high mountain down.

And of course when our hobbit panics and pleads for more “time, time” to work out the puzzle – he gets the answer correct – Time!

In the Time magazine Millennium edition there was this description of time: “Sometimes it flies, sometimes it crawls, but it always passes inexorably. We mark it, save it, waste it, bide it, race against it. We measure it incessantly, with a passion for precision that borders on the obsessive.
We are now in the process of doing a daily count of the Omer, (the 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot), as the Torah tells us “u’sefartem lachem” to actually count these days one by one, as we head on a journey from slavery and exile in Egypt to exodus and Divine revelation at Sinai. So every night from the second night of Pesach onwards we count: Today is one day of the Omer, two days of the Omer, three days etc. Eventually, after forty nine days of daily focus on time, we reach the 50th day – the Festival of Shavuot, when we receive the Torah afresh each year.

There are  several apps on the App Store that can help with counting the Omer.

Developer: Moshe Berman

Ultimate Omer 2 – $2.99

Developer: David G. Cooper and Rabbi David M. Seidenberg

Omer Counter – $0.99 or Free

Developer: Uri Dvir

The Omer Count – $0.99

Developer: Mosaica Press, TorahLab, Rabbi Yaacov Haber with Rabbi David Sedley

Sefiros Grow – $4.99 or Free

Developer: RustyBrick

Sefirat HaOmer – Free

 

 

 

 

Counting the days helps us focus on the moment, to value each and every day. All too often we take time for granted: sometimes we feel time is dragging, or moving slowly; sometimes we even try to kill time. Look at the research on how many office workers spend hours per day playing solitaire, or browsing the web, lacking that fervent drive to utilise every moment.

It reminds me of the story of the team of cannibals who were hired to work for a large management company. After a month has passed an emergency meeting is called, and the CEO asks everyone if they have seen the janitor. The staff all reply that they have not seen him, and the meeting closes.

After the boss has left, the leader of the cannibals says to the others, “Which of you idiots ate the janitor?” One hand is raised hesitantly, to which the leader of the cannibals replies, “You idiot! For four weeks we’ve been eating Team Leaders, Supervisors and Project Managers and no one noticed a thing, and you had to go and eat the janitor!

What the counting of the Omer helps us to focus on is that time is passing us by, a gentle daily reminder that every second of every day is precious.

We all know of people who have received that dreaded verdict from their doctor, giving them a defined time left to live, and of course it is only G-d who can make those decisions. But it is often only in those situations that we suddenly begin to truly appreciate the value of every single minute. Only when we really need time do we realise its full value … and often when it is too late.

Let us take the message from the Counting of the Omer about the value of time, of every minute of every day, and G-d willing, when we fill our time with Torah study, with mitzvah observance, with loving and caring for those around us we will merit to be “oleh regel” – to spend this Shavuot in Jerusalem together in the third Beit Hamikdash.

Rabbi Zalman Lent


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