Counting the Omer, Growing the Beard…
Originally uploaded by Daniel Greene.
…maybe. I’m thinking about it. I’m thinking and feeling about a lot of things, really– too much to tell you.
But what is the omer? The omer is a period of counting that is a mitzvah or “commandment” in the Jewish Bible. Jews are supposed to count the days from Pesach to Shavuot to mark the journey from Exodus (freedom from bondage) to Mount Sinai (communally experiencing the presence of God in a deep and miraculous way and receiving the Torah). It is traditionally a period of semi-mourning, reflection, and, among other things, not shaving or getting a haircut.
To tell the truth, I have never counted the days between Pesach and Shavuot; in fact, now I would have to think… ah, yes, today is the ninth day of Omer. But something the rabbi said, half in jest, about having “rabbinical permission to grow a beard over the next seven weeks” got me to thinking not only about growing a beard, but also about how I might seize upon an opportunity to have a religious experience. Or at least enhance the spirituality of my life for a while.
I’m at the point where I hate my beard. It itches, and I think it makes me look old, mean, and ugly. I took this photo now in case I can’t stand it anymore and I shave it all off. But maybe I’m also taking this photo as a way of reflecting more deeply on having some patience with this process.
It is difficult to sit with that which itches at one and makes one feel old, mean, and ugly. Like my kvetching. I complain. I do it several times a day, often without even thinking. Sometimes my first words in the morning are a form of complaint. This is something I would like to tackle during the next six weeks.
Even if I don’t keep the beard.