Counting the Omer - Day 4

Shalom Mishpochah,

We’re in the first week of the 49-day Counting of the Omer. As I shared earlier, Aish HaTorah, an excellent Orthodox Jewish organization, has organized this counting around 7 important character traits that are part of all our humanity. Before I get into the trait for today, a bit more background is in order.

From Aish: The Omer is the 49-day period beginning the second day of Passover and ending the day before Shavuot. It is the countdown (really the count-up) to receiving the Torah on Shavuot. We count the days and weeks of this period, from 1 to 49. The counting is done the night before each day, beginning this year on April 20, 2019 and ending on June 7, 2019. In preparation for Shavuot, when we received the Torah as a united nation, many people use the Omer to improve their character traits and their sense of unity.

I might mention here that there was quite a dispute in the days of the Second Temple between the P’rushim (Pharisees) and Tzdukim (Sadducees) as to when the counting was to begin. Each sect chose a different starting date.

You see, Leviticus 23:15 is a little ambiguous where it says, From the day after the day of rest—that is, from the day you bring the sheaf for waving [of barley]—you are to count seven full week, until the seventh week; you are to count fifty days and then you are to present a grain offering to Adonai.

The issue is which day of rest is being referred to, either the Feast of First Fruits, which is the day of rest beginning immediately after the Passover seder, or the seventh day sabbath during Passover week. There were two days of rest during that week. On which day was the counting to begin? There are valid views on both sides.

Traditional Judaism has opted for the first view, the Pharisee’s view, since most Jews follow their ways. So, today nearly all Jewish people who observe this practice begin their counting then. Since there is good reason to do this, I don’t argue with those who want to observe then, especially since the devotional aspect of examining and improving character traits is worthwhile, no matte when it’s done. But my view is that the Sadducees got it right and started the count on the sabbath after the seventh day sabbath of that week, which might is called Yom Rishon (aka “Sunday”).

Moreover, Paul tells us that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, thefirstfruitsof those who have died (1 Corinthians 15: 20, 23) fulfilling the Feast of Firstfruits in his Resurrection. Since the biblical holidays each have prophetic meaning, this is what I think Hashem was telling our people by tying together these two holy days, Firstfruits and Shavuot (Pentecost). Meanwhile, let’s continue looking at the character traits together as I combine some of the teaching of the Pharisees from Aish’s information with teaching from ha-Brit Hadashah, the New Covenant (New Testament).

The first week focuses on Chesed, “loving kindness.” Today’s focus is on

Day 4 ― Netzach of Chesed: Endurance in Loving-kindness

Is my love enduring? Does it withstand challenges and setbacks? Do I give and withhold love according to my moods or is it constant regardless of the ups and downs of life?

Messianic Jews 12:1 says, …keep running with endurance in the contest set before us.

A modern-day expression of this thought is “keep on keeping on.” We all can use more endurance.

Exercise for the day: Reassure a loved one of the constancy of your love.