Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Contradictions to the OMER, Part 2

 Israel's Beauty

Photo: Miriam Woelke


Just recently I wrote a short kabbalistic point of view on "Counting the Omer – Sefirat HaOmer" and now I would like to point out a contradiction between "Sefirat HaOmer" and the present State of Israel.

On Pessach we have started counting the Omer until Shavuot. On Shavuot, the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai and until then, we are counting the Omer according to a certain way of prayer. Chabad (Lubavitch) published a great counting calendar including the daily kabbalistic Sefirot. 

It was Pessach when the Jews left Egypt and 50 days later, they received the Torah at Mount Sinai. The entire period of 50 days is seen as a spiritual cleansing process of the soul. When the Jews left Egypt, almost all of them only had a slave mentality. Moreover, many of them were influenced by Egyptian culture and mentality. If G – d hadn’t decided to finally take them out, almost all of them had soon or later fallen into Egyptian idol – worship. 

Slavery kills your own free will because you totally depend on your owner. You do what he says and he makes all decisions for you. In the end, you are not even able to manage your own life but always wait for further orders. This is how the Jews left Egypt but G – d wanted them to learn how to make decisions and lead an independent life. 

 The Sefirat HaOmer period is a time of mourning. At least until the 33rd day (Lag Ba’Omer). A day when the plague stopped killing Rabbi Akivah’s students. At the moment, however, we are still in the mourning period and listening to music, men don’t shave and no weddings are taking place. Now the great contradiction comes: A mourning period and no music. However, the State of Israel is going to celebrate its Independence Day in the middle of the Omer period. Tomorrow night. With huge celebrations, parties and the countries greatest celebration is going to take place at Tel Aviv’s Kikar Rabin. In front of the Municipality, tomorrow night at 9pm ! 

How then can Jews celebrate in the middle of the Omer period ? Is this allowed or is there a contradiction ? 

The truth is that many Haredim don’t celebrate Independence Day not only because they are against the present State of Israel but because we are still in a mourning period. National religious Jews, on the other hand, do celebrate Independence Day. However, they do so in a religious way and those of you who are in Jerusalem tomorrow night: There will be a religious Independence Day celebration at the Great Synagogue at King George Street. The Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis is going to speak and the choir will sing. 

 I am not the most enthusiastic Independence Day celebrator and I also have to work on the holiday itself. Nevertheless, I am grateful to G – d that there is a State of Israel where Jews can go to without depending on the nations alone. After all those years in Israel I cannot imagine ever returning to the Diaspora in order to live there.

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