Rabbi's Column - May 2017

Dear Friends,

We are in the season of counting the Omer. We do lots of counting in our lives. We count the days until vacation. We count the years of our lives by marking birthdays and anniversaries. We count our money to make sure we have enough to pay our bills. We count the Omer to make a connection between the freedom that became ours at Passover and the 10 Commandments that we will receive on Shavuot.

How do we count from freedom to responsibility? An ‘omer’ is actually a measure of grain and traditionally the counting of the omer was a harvest activity. The counting of the omer has become more of a spiritual practice today. Counting is itself an act of consciousness-raising. There are 49 days between Passover and Shavuot, making a precise 7 weeks of 7 days. Each week of counting is guided by a spiritual principle. The seven principles are: loving, kindness, justice/discipline, endurance, humility, bonding/connection, and leadership.

The rabbis believe that every human being is comprised of these seven basic principles. They also believed that all forms of enslavement, at root, come from a distortion of these principles. None of us is perfect and therefore we are all ‘slaves’ to something. By focusing with intention on each of these principles, we can strive to free ourselves from those imperfections that enslave us.

We are counting the days now until the celebration of our 40th anniversary here at TBT. Our celebration takes place during the 5th week of the Omer when we reflect upon building and connection. How perfect that our attention is drawn to that which truly makes TBT strong. It is not the building itself but the bonds and connections made between the people who comprise TBT that makes us strong.

We will celebrate those connections in wonderful ways over the course of the weekend of May 12th and 13th. At Friday night services on May 12th, Rabbi Hesch Sommer will be our guest speaker. Rabbi Sommer was TBT’s rabbi for 26 years, from 1982-2008. He will offer his reflections on the history of TBT from his unique vantage point.

Our Saturday evening celebration fittingly falls not only during the counting of the Omer, but precisely on "Lag BaOmer," a holiday celebrated on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer. Modern Jewish tradition links the holiday of Lag BaOmer to the Bar Kokhaba Revolt against the Roman Empire. Lag BaOmer is celebrated as a symbol of the strength of the Jewish spirit. So too the strength of TBT’s spirit is such that it grows stronger each day as we evolve to meet the needs of today’s Jewish community and to dream about tomorrow’s.

I am excited to celebrate with you on May 12th and May 13th as we reflect upon our past, dream about our future, and celebrate our present.

Rabbi Offner