Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, May 23, 2020 

Shabbat Shalom,

Counting the Omer – Day 42

Here is the proper blessing to be said each day.  This is how Jewish people fulfill the command to count.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר

Baruch Atah Adonai Elohenu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav, Vitzivanu Al Sefirat Ha-Omer.

Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his commandments and commanded us about the counting of the Omer.  Today is six weeks and no days of the counting of the Omer.

Six weeks are complete and today we finish the sixth longing, the longing to be great and successful.  The methods of the world are that to get ahead (be great and successful) we need to climb over the backs of others.  Not so in the kingdom of God.  1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up—just as you in fact are doing.

There is a calling on the life of every believer to be both meek and humble.  Stop and rest.  Take a breath.  Did you?  I know you want to finish reading the RR so you can jump into the next item on a long list of things requiring your attention, but pause here.  It’s Shabbat.  Think about being meek and humble.

I want to share another important verse with you.  Ephesians 4:29 Let no harmful word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for building others up according to the need, so that it gives grace to those who hear it.  We have options.  Many of those options will lead to regret.  Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  

Be among the few who find the narrow and difficult way that leads to life.  That “way” is the way of meekness and humility.  (Rabbi’s note: Funny we should end a discussion on the longing for greatness with a lesson in humility.)  Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For through the grace given me, I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think—but to use sound judgment, as God has assigned to each person a measure of faith.

Rabbi Trail:  Psalm 34:14 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking treachery. 15 Depart from evil and do good. Seek shalom and pursue it.  Here is a funny story that concerns these two verses.  Please don’t forget the lesson of the words themselves.  

These two verses of Scripture appear in the last paragraph of the Amidah.  The Amidah is a liturgical prayer of great (perhaps the greatest) importance.  It is also called the Shemonah Esrei.  It is prayed every day several times a day.  

These two verses from Psalm 34 are also found in 1 Peter 3:10 For, “The one who loves life, wanting to see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 He must turn away from evil and do good. He must seek shalom and pursue it.  When I read them in 1 Peter, I didn’t know they were in Psalm 34.  I had only read them in the Amidah.  So I thought, “Wow!  How did the rabbis take words from 1 Peter and insert them into the holiest of liturgical prayers.”  Then I found them in Psalm 34 and understood 1 Peter got them from the Psalm, and so did the rabbis who wrote the Amidah.  End RT.

“Seek shalom and pursue it.”  That’s the message for this Shabbat.  This is the key to being great and successful in the kingdom of God.  Ephesians 2:14a For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation…. 17 And He came and proclaimed shalom to you who were far away and shalom to those who were near— 18 for through Him we both have access to the Father by the same Ruach…. 22 In Him, you also are being built together into God’s dwelling place (Temple) in the Ruach.  

Shabbat Shalom.  Stay thirsty (for Him) my friends.