As a mother, there are many precious moments and milestones I have witnessed with my children. From their first steps to their first words, each step along their journey brings me joy and fills my heart with pride. One significant commandment in Judaism that holds a special place in my heart is the Counting of the Omer, also known as the Feast of Weeks.
And it's the BEST with Preschoolers!
The Feast of Weeks
According to Leviticus 23:9-21, we are commanded to count 7 weeks (50 days) starting the night of Passover leading up to a festival called Shavuot. Each day we "Count the Omer" by reciting a special blessing.
“Then you are to count from the morrow after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering, seven complete Shabbatot. Until the morrow after the seventh Shabbat you are to count fifty days, and then present a new grain offering to Adonai. Leviticus 23:15-16 TLV
Our people have been counting the Omer for generations. And because of verse 23:21, “This is a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” our grandchildren will continue to count long after we're gone.
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What is an Omer?
An Omer is a unit of measurement of grain, specifically barley, that was brought as an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem during the time of the ancient Israelites. The counting of the Omer is linked to the agricultural cycle of the Land of Israel, as the harvest of barley marked the beginning of the wheat harvest and the bringing of the first fruits to the Temple.
In addition to its agricultural roots, the Counting of the Omer has also taken on a spiritual significance. The period between Passover and Shavuot is seen as a time of spiritual preparation and purification, as the Israelites journeyed from their redemption from slavery in Egypt (Passover) to receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai (Shavuot). Each day of the Omer is seen as an opportunity for personal growth and introspection, as we strive to refine ourselves and prepare to receive the Torah anew. Each day is an opportunity to reflect, learn, and grow together in your relationship with God and as a family.
The Giving of the Law and the Gifting of His Spirit
The greatest rescue from slavery of sin and death came over 1,000 years later on Passover.
Israel's Messiah, Yeshua, gave Himself as the ultimate sacrifice on Passover and was resurrected by God three days later defeating death at the grave. He spent 40 days in His earthly body with his disciples and followers before He ascended to Heaven to sit on the throne at the right hand of God. This would leave ten more days of counting the Omer with great anticipation of what was to happen next.
Shavuot is when God gave Moses the Torah on Mount Sinai after anointing the new nation of Israel with the glory of the Lord.
On the 50th day after Yeshua's resurrection and ascension to Heaven, God gave the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) Who dwells within every believer from every nation who calls upon the Name of Yeshua and is grafted into this new Kingdom of God uniting us as one. That's why Shavuot is also referred to as Pentecost.
The giving of His Word and the giving of His Spirit happened on the same day, thousands of years apart.
Family, Count Dracula, and a Paper Chain
Counting the Omer has become a fun tradition in our household. Each evening, we gather together to sing the blessings, practice our counting as if we were The Count from Sesame Street, and put another link on our paper chain. My children love watching the chain get longer as we get closer to Shavuot. From learning about Yeshua’s salvation during Passover, to receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit on Shavuot/Pentecost, the kids can literally see an abundance of blessing growing in the form of a simple paper chain. You can read more about fun ways to count the omer as a family here.
This annual observance reminds me of the importance of cherishing every moment and witnessing my children's growth in the Lord. Just as we count each day of the Omer, I count each day with my children, watching them develop and learn, nurturing their souls, and giving thanks to Yeshua for providing for us time and time again.
Overall, the counting of the Omer is a meaningful and significant practice in the life of a believer - whether Christian or Jewish. It reminds us of the connection between the agricultural cycles of the Land of Israel and our spiritual journey as a redeemed people.
By counting each day and giving thanksgiving and praise to God, we prepare ourselves to receive the Torah AND His Spirit with open hearts and minds on the holiday of Shavuot.