Rabbi’s Reflections – Wednesday, May 13, 2020 


Counting the Omer – Day 32

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 four weeks and four days of the counting of the Omer.

Before we go on, let’s talk about tomorrow.  Tomorrow is Lag B’Omer.  I’ll explain after the Rabbi Trail. 

Rabbi Trail:  I’ve told you about this before.  It is only theoretically possible to talk about tomorrow.  Because tomorrow never comes, it simply morphs into today.  End RT.

Then, theoretically speaking, when I say, “Tomorrow,” now, I’m speaking about Thursday (because I’m writing the RR for Wednesday).  Lag B’Omer is the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer.  For us, because we always start counting on a Sunday, Lag B’Omer is always on a Thursday.  “Lag” is how we express “33” (or thirty-three).  The Lamed is the Hebrew number 30 and the Gimel is the Hebrew number 3.  We put them together to get “Lag” which is the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer.

Lag B’Omer is not like any other day of the counting of the Omer.  It’s a day for parties, celebrations, (marriages are permitted), and especially picnics.  During the counting of the Omer (the 49 days – 7 complete weeks) between the 3rd day of Passover and Shavuot (the feast of weeks or Pentecost), as we count our blessings, we prepare our hearts for a double blessing, the giving of the Torah and the giving of the Holy Spirit.  These days are intensely devotional.  They are somber and no parties are permitted and especially no weddings.  The sole exception is Lag B’Omer.  

I’ve been trying to understand the origins of this custom and stumbled across something a few days ago I would like you to evaluate.  Here is the relevant verse…. 1 Kings 2:11 The days that David reigned over Israel were forty years—seven years he reigned in Hebron and 33 years he reigned in Jerusalem.  What if the rabbis wanted to find a way to honor the 33 years David reigned in Jerusalem?   Seems reasonable to me.   

Now, on the 32nd day of the counting of the Omer, we continue our discussion of the longings with the longing for beauty.  Let me say straightforwardly, regarding the longing for beauty, those with an unhealthy obsession for beauty are looking for it outside of God which inevitably becomes perverted.  A healthy longing for beauty is only fulfilled in the Lord, Himself.  It takes a twisted mind to allow lust to burst forth.  Only under (submitted to) God is our longing for beauty satisfied appropriately and completely.   

The world tends to be obsessed with beauty, but inappropriately.  Beauty is a huge industry in the typical worldview.  And yet, for all the dollars and effort put into achieving beauty, there is no end to it.  For all the expense and effort put into being more beautiful, we will never be more beautiful to Him. 

Song of Songs 6:4 You are beautiful, my darling, like Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners.  

God is making a great statement with this verse.  He is comparing our (the Bride of Messiah) earthly beauty to Tirzah, the capital city of Israel, a royal residence famed for its beauty in Solomon’s time.  Then God speaks of the Bride’s heavenly beauty comparing it to Jerusalem, the capital city of Judah and God’s divine residence.  And finally, God speaks of her victorious overcoming beauty.  Only victorious armies kept their banners.  

There we have it, earthly beauty, heavenly beauty and the beauty of the overcomer, all ascribed to the Bride of Messiah. 

Week 20
Memory Verse:  Proverbs 1:7 The fear of Adonai is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.

96    5/11      Monday:        Proverbs 1-2

97    5/12      Tuesday:       Proverbs 3-4  

* 98  5/13      Wednesday:  Proverbs 16-18

99    5/14      Thursday:      Proverbs 31

100  5/15      Friday:           1 Kings 11-12   

Question of the day:  There are 3 chapters that make up the reading for today, Proverbs 16, 17, & 18.  There is much written in them about interpersonal relationships.  There were many verses that caught my attention, Chapter 16:3, 18, 25, 32; Chapter 17:9, 17, 22; Chapter 18:10, 22, 24.  But the question of the day is, about what verse will I write?

Answer:  Proverbs 18:19 An offended brother is more formidable than a fortified city, and quarrels are like the bars of a fortress.  Offense is a huge issue in the family of God.  There is always a reason to be offended.  Almost every occasion for offense is a reflection of the immaturity of the offended party.  Hint: it’s not all about you.

What are we saying when we are offended?  “You didn’t treat me with the respect that I think I deserve.”  This is a form of pride (which is sin).  The only way to have your pride wounded is to have pride in the first place.  Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

The Bible even addresses what to do when we become offended.  Matthew 5:23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering upon the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.  This means it is both urgent and important to settle a matter of difference (aka “offense”).  Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, yet do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down on your anger.

Rabbi Trail:  I don’t think I ever explained the difference between urgent and important.  Usually, something is urgent because it is important to someone else.  They want to take what is important to them and make it urgent for you.  What is important is what will benefit you in the long or short term.  Our lives tend to be filled with urgency.  When we pray and meditate on the will of God, that helps us know what is important.  Let’s purpose to live in the important and not be controlled by the urgent.  End RT.

My experience is that in the vast majority of occasions, people will not follow sound biblical instruction, but instead will sulk, ruminate, and pout over their offense.  What is so hard about giving the benefit of the doubt?  Go to the other person and make a brief opening statement.  Something like, “That hurt me,” or “What you said seemed insensitive to me.”  If you can’t say that to someone’s face, then stop feeling hurt.  

Follow that by asking a few open ended questions.  “Was it your intention to be hurtful?”  Or say, “Did you know I was bothered by what you said?”  Begin an honest dialogue that provides a path to reconciliation.  End of issue, problem solved.  

The kingdom of God is made up of relationships, our relationship with God and our relationships with each other.  And this is important and the last word for today… we can’t have one or the other, we have to have both, a relationship with God and relationships with each other. 

1 John 4:20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that the one who loves God should also love his brother.