Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Ahavat Israel" during the OMER


Seriously, I signed up for at least three OMER reminders and nothing helps. Almost every night, I do forget counting the Omer. Usually I do it in the morning without the blessing. I need to admit this with greatest shame.

In a kabbalistic and chassidic sense, the time of the Counting of the Omer is of great significance; let alone all the spirituality floating around. Kabbalah compares the seven weeks of the Omer to seven Sefirot (attributes). Every week stands for a different Sefira.

The Talmud tells us the story of Rabbi Akiva and his students dying in a plague due to their own "Lashon HaRah". It says that 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students died because they spoke bad about each other. This is why the Omer period until Lag Ba'Omer (33 of the Omer) is a mourning period where no weddings take place. Neither is one allowed to shave or cut his / her hair. Furthermore, no music is supposed to be played.

I must say that according to historians, Rabbi Akiva's students died because they were actually fighting against the Romans. Jews were going to war against the Roman enemy. This is a thesis I do support.

"Shaarei HaMoadim" tells us that the time of the Omer counting should be a time of "Ahavat Israel - Loving one's fellow Jew". Us fulfilling the Mitzvah of "Ahavat Israel" is a Tikun for the misbehaviour of Rabbi Akiva's students. We can only make it better.
Not that we don't express "Ahavat Israel" throughout the rest of the year; however, especially during the time of the Omer, we are challenged with adding an extra portion to it.

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