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May 07, 1993 - Image 34

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-05-07

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

WERE CLIMBING THE sups OF JEWISH EDUCATION .. .

In photo starting lower left:
Robert Gamer, Francine
Green, Cindy Friedman,
Rachel Tessler, Stephanie
Basch, Cheryl Cook, Michele
Faudem Ershler.

Not Shown:
Shula Fleishcher, Avi
Friedman, Amy Goldstein,
Alex Greenbaum, Michael
Pont, Sheryl Soloman, and
Marcia Tilchin.

Detroiters Studying at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America

invite you to

The Metropolitan Detroit 1993 Annual Dinner

Tuesday, June 1st at 6:00 p.m.

Congregation Shaarey Zedek

Seminary Guest Speaker

SHOSHANA CARDIN

Past president of Conference of Presidents of Major
Jewish Organizations; past president of Council of
Jewish Federations, President of CLAL.

R.S.V.P.

258-0055

AIPAC

American Israel Public Affairs Committee

presents

KOCKTAILS, KANAPES duKONDRACKE

MIDEAST TO THE MIDWEST:
ISRAEL IN THE EyES of THE MEdiA
How Do WE REspoNd?

FROM THE

featuring

MORTON KO N DRAG KE

Senior Editor, New Republic 6. Roll Call e Panelist, "The McLaughlin Group"

TOBY DERSHOWITZ,

AIPAC's Media Director

12 N. Saginaw, Pontiac

MONDAY MAY 10, 1993 6:30 PM

DONT MISS THIS IMPORTANT COMMUNITY EVENT

For more infbrmation please call Scott Eisenberg at 953-0561 " i * Dietary Laws Observed '* Convert $15 / person

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7
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Making Days Count Is
Season's Lesson

RABBI MORTON F. YOLKUT SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

I

t is a curious require-
ment of the Torah that
between the second day
of Passover and the festi-
val of Shavuot, the Jew is
asked to count days and
weeks. In this week's
sedrah, the commandment
of sefirat haomer is record-
ed: "And you shall count for
yourselves from the morrow
of the day of rest, from the
day you have brought the
omer (sheaf) of waving,
seven complete weeks shall
they be." (Leviticus 23:15).
The essence of sefirat
haomer is the counting of
49 days from Passover to
Shavout, day by day and
week by week. Every night
the counting is done with a
blessing using the formula
found in every Siddur.
What is the message and
meaning of this mitzvah?
Maimonides compares this
counting process to an indi-
vidual waiting the arrival
of a dear friend on a certain
date and impatiently
checks off the days until his
arrival. So does the Jew
count the days from the
anniversary of his physical
freedom until the festival
which celebrates the spiri-
tual birth of his people. The
sefira period then is a tran-
sitional segment on our cal-
endar, a ladder linking the
two festivals of Passover
and Shavuot.
In post-biblical times,
these seven weeks were
associated with sad memo-
ries for our people.
Tradition tells of a plague
that destroyed thousands of
Rabbi Akiva's disciples dur-
ing this time period. As a
result of those tragic
events, the omer season is
observed as a period of
semi-mourning; and during
this time traditional Jews
do not celebrate weddings
or other joyous events,
except on certain specified
and exceptional days (i.e.
Lag B'Omer and Yom
Yerushalayim).
But these negative
aspects of the sefira season
— the observance of moder-
ate mourning, the absence
of music during these
weeks — are strictly sec-
ondary and due to a quirk
of the calendar. The

Morton Yolkut is rabbi of
Congregation B'nai David.

essence of sefira is the
counting of time, or better,
the sanctifying of time.
How many people can
truthfully say that they
know how to count days, to
sanctify the time of their
lives? Indeed, for many peo-
ple time is cheap and it is
often "killed" or "wasted" or
"passed". But the days and
years of our lives are too
precious and too important
to be allowed to pass unno-
ticed and unrecorded. If one
does not make his years
count, then all his labor is
in vain. Time, the Torah
reminds us, must be count-
ed!
The Torah tells us con-
cerning the patriarch
Abraham: "And Abraham
was old and advanced in
age." (Genesis 24:1). The
Hebrew expression that is
used is bah bayamim, liter-

Shabbat Emor:
Leviticus

21:1-24:23
Ezekiel 44:15-31.

ally: he came with his days.
This has been interpreted
to mean that his days
added up to a complete
sum. None were missing;
none misused or wasted. In
his old age, he could reflect
on his life and see that his
days and years were filled
with acts with accomplish-
ments and productivity for
the benefit not only of him-
self. but of all mankind.
Abraham had mastered the
art of counting time. And
those days, weeks and
years added up to a life of
great meaning and achieve-
ment.
And so sefirat haomer is
not simply a formal calen-
dar ritual. It is not merely
a religious exercise in
mathematical progressions.
It is nothing less than a
Jewish philosophy of life. It
reminds the Jew that if he
is to count as a person, as a
mentsch, he must learn
how to count in life. The
counting of the omer is an
annual reminder of our
obligation to review the
days of our lives, and to
resolve to make each day
count. ❑

Aniallimmillimmill•11111111mp.

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