This past summer I built a greenhouse in my backyard. It was a Covid gift from a friend who was clearing out his shed. He texted me a picture and asked if I wanted it, and a couple of hours later it appeared on my porch, still in the box. After the disbelief, awe, planning, assembly (in a pandemic), and building shelving, I planted my first seeds at the end of March 2021.
What I didn’t realize at the time, but is so clear to me now, is how this has become my daily Omer practice. During the period of the Omer, 49 days from Passover to Shavuot, we count each day. Historically tied to the barley harvest, and upcoming wheat harvest on Shavuot, the mystics framed it as a daily spiritual preparation for the receiving of the Torah (also on Shavuot).
“They must be complete” prompts the discussion of what if one misses a day? Common practice is that one may then continue counting the Omer but without a blessing (i.e. by missing a day you can’t fulfill the entire mitzvah so the blessing no longer applies). Some say each night is its own mitzvah, and so one can continue to say a blessing on subsequent nights.
There are other Omer practices, such as a daily act of hitbodedut, a lone conversation with God.
I look for blessings everywhere and struggle to remember to count the Omer so I hold that tension. Rarely do I make it past the second week without missing a day of counting. Yet, I have not missed one day of going to my greenhouse and checking my seedlings.
Not. One. Day. Missed.
When counting and keeping track of something that is so important, so timely, and so necessary, it’s harder to miss. It just happened this year that my seeds got planted during Passover, at the start of the Omer season, when it seemed to be warming up. While not every year might align so well, it has prompted me this year to count my own Omer, and to think about the value of a daily practice for a prescribed period of time.
In the meantime, I’ll spend a moment every day in care for my seedlings, and deep gratitude that they continue to grow.
Join us to celebrate the first fruits and harvests of Shavuot and connect with other local Jewish gardeners!
Sunday May 16th from 1:00-3:00pm at Temple Beth Israel in Waltham
You’ll have the opportunity to ask for help from our garden experts, as well as peruse lots of seeds and select seedlings, and some fruit trees for sale. Grind wheat berries and learn about the wheat harvest process in Biblical times.
Free for Jewish Volunteer Gardening Brigade members! Community members who want to take home seedlings will be asked for a donation.
This will be an outdoor event, rain or shine, with no access to indoor restroom facilities.
RSVP form coming soon!