Counting Days and Making Days Count
By Rabbi Josh Weinberg
And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering-the day after the Shabbat – you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete: you must count until the day after the seventh week – fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to the Lord. -Leviticus (23:15-16)
This is my favorite time of year. A time of renewal and rebirth. Spring is in the air and as The Song of Songs reminds us, the time of singing has come. It is now just after the beginning of Passover that we begin the count-up to Shavuot, when, according to our Biblical tradition, we bring our first fruits, and according to our Rabbinic tradition, we received Torah at Sinai.
The Kabbalists contributed an additional way to count, citing the great potential for inner growth and to improve one’s own personal character through a system of associating each week with one of the seven [lower] attributes. To the weekly attribute, one of the other six is added each day. The first week of the Omer is Chesed, kindness. So, the first day is Chesed she b’Chesed, Kindness of Kindness. Today is Netzach she b’Chesed — the Eternal or Enduringness of Kindness.
While the counting of the Omer sends much of the Jewish world into a frenzy of marking days and assessing their symbolic importance, we in the Reform Zionist world are counting down the days for a different period. I am referring, of course, to the election period for the World Zionist Congress which has just 22 days left!
Sadly, during this week while we are marking none other than Chesed (Kindness), the Reform Movement was the victim of a Public Relations attack at the hands of another slate. Members of the “Vote Torah” Orthodox slate decided to conjure a false statement about our campaign in order to motivate their members to vote, accusing us of reaching “out to non-Jews to vote in the election and to support ARZA,” which is clearly against the campaign rules. They have since removed the accusation from their article. While I feel bad for the damage done to us, I feel worse for them that they needed to stoop to that level.
With each day that goes by we must stay our course and believe in the strength and purity of our message. We have a deep and durable love for Israel and are eagerly engaged in the work of shaping and building for the future of an Israel that reflects the Jewish values that we hold so dear.
During this week of Chesed let us not only count the days, but make our days count. The Kabbalists recommended that today, Netzach she b’Chesed, on the day of the Enduringness of Kindness, we should do something that fights for or protects a loved one. Today we should fight for something that is worth fighting for: and that is Israel. The soul of the Jewish State is at stake here, and if we don’t fight, if we don’t rise up and make our voices count, a great deal could be lost. Today is about fighting for all those who don’t have a voice ― for asylum seekers, for agunot (married Orthodox women whose husbands will not grant them a divorce), for silenced women, and for those who are victims of slander and libel. And today is about fighting so that tomorrow we can proudly stand together with our Israeli partners, roll up our sleeves, and forge the next chapter of our future in the Jewish State.
Join us by voting for ARZA, in saying that our love for Israel is worth fighting for.
Rabbi Josh Weinberg is president of ARZA.