This time of year, I try to take some time to count my blessings, to appreciate the gifts in my life. That’s rather apropos considering where we are in the Jewish calendar. On the second night of Passover we began counting the Omer, a 49 day period of time that, as tradition would have it, takes us from the Exodus from Egypt to the arrival at Mt. Sinai whereby God gave the Jewish people the Torah on day 50—Shavuot.
Known as Z’man Matan Torah, the time of the giving off the Torah, Shavuot is a chance to think back as we count the days and blessings that allowed us to experience this momentous event in our history. One of the primary reasons for counting year after year is to remind us that revelation is ongoing, a blessing that we can perpetually experience with each passing year of our lives. While there are many reasons given for why we count the Omer, the rabbis of the Talmud link the culmination of the Exodus from Egypt with the receiving of the Torah, a time when God formalized the Divine relationship with the Jewish people through this most amazing gift, our tradition that perpetually evolves with each passing generation.
As our fiscal and school years come to a close, I think that it’s important to remember to count our own blessings and gifts in our own lives. The Talmud in Tractate Menachot 43b teaches us that every person should make it a goal to recite 100 blessings every day of his or her life. While it’s true that praying three times a day just about covers this requirement, I think that our tradition is pushing us to not simply say formulaic blessings, but to pause and recognize that which we are thankful for in our lives. With that goal in mind, I want share a few words of thanks of my own for the blessings and gifts we have in our community.
There are so many people within our PSC family who are deserving of praise and thanks for all that they do and give of their time, energy, and love for the sake of our community. People who volunteer in the office, who help our kiddushes run without incident week after week, and those who make sure that our facility is clean and presentable each and every day. It’s so many little things that happen behind the scenes that make our community such a special place: those who contribute and compile the bulletin, those who attend our life-long learning opportunities, those who visit the sick and comfort the mourners, those who review and update our technological and building needs, and beyond.
I’m so appreciative of our executive board members and trustees who think thoughtfully about the ins and outs of how to keep our building running effectively with the best interests in mind of our community. The parents who bring our students to religious school and support them at home and all of our students who contribute to making our shul feel vibrant. And of course, the support and dedication of our office administrator Sara Kirschenbaum and our Cantor/Educator Doron Shapira. It is, in the truest sense of the word, a “team” effort!
In thinking about the Omer, a time of moving from one point in our journey to the next, I would like to encourage each of us to take the time to count the blessings in our own lives, the gifts we may otherwise take for granted. While it’s true that we could reach our 100-blessing goal by praying three times a day, I think it’s worth trying to identify and recognize those individuals who play a pivotal role in our own lives. I imagine that if we aimed for at least two a day over the 50 day period of counting the omer, not only would we reach our 100 blessing goal en route to Shavuot, but we’d have a greater appreciation for what it means to thank those who are deserving in our midst. May our journey as a community, our adventures from times of challenge and difficulty lead us on an Exodus toward freedom, blessing, and many more gifts to come. Thank you to all who contribute in your own unique way. We value you and all that you give to our community. We wouldn’t be here without you!
Rabbi Corey Helfand