By Rabbi Mark Melamut
A Happy Passover and Shavuot to you and your family! We move now in Jewish time from matzah to cheesecake, or, if you prefer, from Passover to Shavuot, with an enjoyable stop in between for our Lag B’omer celebration. On this note, please save the date for the annual BE Lag(er) B’Omer BBQ and Open House at our home: Sunday, April 28, 4:00-7:00 p.m.
One of the great things about riding around the city with children in the car is that they love to hear music, sometimes even the same music, over and over. Lucky for me, my daughter requests, on a daily basis, the contemporary Jewish singer and songwriter Matisyahu. The lyrics of his song, “Searchin’ (for You)” are now embedded in my soul. I’d like to share a selection with you.
“In the earth there are so many wonderful treasures. If you know where to dig you will find gold and diamonds, silver and all kinds of treasures. If you don’t know where to dig all you will find is rocks and dirt. A teacher/guide/rabbi is the geologist of the soul. One can show you where to dig and what to dig for, but the digging you must do yourself, the digging you must do yourself.”
Not a bad message to have running through one’s head, right? Of course, this could be a daily mantra, but it seems to me to fit our current time, as we count the Omer between Passover and Shavuot. We are currently moving in “spiritual time” from freedom to responsibility, from z’man heiruteinu to z’man matan torahteinu, from a time of our freedom to a time of receiving our Torah. We literally count these days, the Omer, in anticipation of what is to come. We move away from eating matzah to remembering the ancient beginning of the wheat harvest, when loaves of bread made from the first of the wheat harvest were enjoyed.
During this transitional time in Jewish spiritual life, we also find ourselves in the midst of exploring, digging, and planning for the sustainability and future of our B’nai Emunah family. The countdown, as we literally count the seven full weeks of the Omer period, acknowledges the ancient anxiety that our ancestors had about their agricultural harvest. It also creates anticipation and excitement for the future. This can be a time for exploration, for asking questions about shifting identity, and for moving from the past through the present to our future. For me, it’s kind of like standing before the mirror with my children–though our image simply reflects backs to us our present image, at one and the same time I’m reminded from where I came and I catch a glimpse of what is to come as well. How can we align and attune ourselves to this time period?
I suggest we all grab a shovel and count. We can dig, then we can seek guidance, and then dig again, digging in and unearthing the sparkling gems and treasures of warmth and friendship, of continuity, of meaning, and of building and strengthening community. And we can count daily the Omer and the blessings of our lives, of our family and friends, of our community, of those who came before us, and of those who will follow after us.
Wishing you the blessings of many wonderful treasures,
Rabbi Mark Melamut