The origins of the Counting of the Omer lie in ancient Israel, when the period of seven weeks between the spring festival of Pesach and the early summer harvest festival of Shavuot, was one of great anxiety because of the uncertainties of nature.
In Talmudic times, the rabbis designated these weeks as a period of mourning because of their association with the death of twelve thousand disciples of Rabbi Akiva. Historians later identified this tragedy with the crushing of the Bar Kochba revolt by the Romans in 135 CE.
In our own time, the seven weeks of the daily counting are an opportunity for us to remember the six million of our people who were annihilated by the Nazis during the Sho’ah, not at one particular moment, but rather day after day after day.
And so, as we count the Omer and continue to mark the journey of our ancestors from Egypt to Sinai, we also reflect on the horrific days of the Sh’oah and re-dedicate ourselves to the twin-fold tasks of remembrance and renewal.
PAUSE FOR REFLECTION
Ba-ruch A-tah, A-do-nai E-lo-hey-nu, Me-lech ha-o-lam,
a-sher ki-d-shanu b-mitz-vo-tav v-tzi-va-nu al s-fi-rat ha-omer.
Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Sovereign of the universe, whose commandments make us holy and who commands us concerning the counting of the Omer.
Today is the …. day of the Omer (up to six days).
Today is the …. day of the Omer, making one week and …. days of the Omer (up to 1 week, 6 days)
Today is the …. day of the Omer, making …. weeks and …. days of the Omer (up to 6 weeks, 6 days)
Today is the 49th day of the Omer, making 7 weeks of the Omer.