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Sefirat HaOmer: An Introduction
by Simon Jacobson
With the mitzvah of counting the 49 days, known as Sefirat Ha’Omer, the Torah invites us on a journey into the human psyche, into the soul.
There are seven basic emotions that make up the spectrum of human experience. At the root of all forms of enslavement, is a distortion of these emotions. Each of the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot is dedicated to examining and refining one of them.
The seven emotional attributes are:
Chesed – Loving-kindness Week 1 of the Omer
Gevurah — Justice and Discipline Week 2 of the Omer
Tiferet – Harmony, Balance, Compassion Week 3 of the Omer
Netzach – Endurance Week 4 of the Omer
Hod – Humility Week 5 of the Omer
Yesod – Bonding, Generativity Week 6 of the Omer
Malchut – Sovereignty, Receptivity Week 7 of the Omer
The seven weeks, which represent these emotional attributes, further divide into seven days making up the 49 days of the counting. Since a fully functional emotion is multidimensional, it includes within itself a blend of all seven attributes. Thus, the counting of the first week, which begins on the second night of Pesach, as well as consisting of the actual counting (“Today is day one of the Omer…”) would consist of the following structure with suggested meditations:
Upon conclusion of the 49 days we arrive at the 50th day — Mattan Torah. After we have achieved all we can accomplish through our own initiative, traversing and refining every emotional corner of our psyche, we then receive a gift (‘mattan’ in Hebrew) from above. We receive that which we could not achieve with our own limited faculties. We receive the gift of true freedom — the ability to transcend our human limitations and touch the divine.