Count the Omer with Us from Passover to Shavuot

Image relating to counting the omer

An e-book version of Rabbi Yael Levy’s Omer Guide, “Journey through the Wilderness” is now available online ($9.99 at It’s the newest of several opportunities to enhance your experience of the ancient Jewish ritual of “Counting the Omer” in the 49 days between Passover and Shavuot (March 26 to May 14).

As in previous years, A Way In will be sending free daily emails during the Omer that include links to the traditional prayers as well as teachings for the day and a practice to help deepen your experience. If you have not been on this list in previous years, sign up here.

(All subscribers to the list receive a coupon for a 20 percent discount on the Omer Guide e-book.) A Way In's Twitter feed will include daily reminders to count. Each day's teaching will appear on the blog on the A Way In Web site and on our Facebook page. See Rabbi Yael's personal invitation to "Count With Us" on this video.

The Facebook page also will include nature photographs to aid in your meditation. We invite you to respond to the teachings and share your own insights to help support others in our spiritual community. 

Also new this year: Rabbi Yael will be posting an additional teaching for each of the seven weeks of the Omer.

A print version of the Omer Guide, which includes a 5773 calendar for counting, is available for sale through or ($19.99)

As part of the Mishkan Shalom education program, Rabbi Yael will teach two classes, one to prepare for Passover on March 20 and another on April 10 to support you in Counting the Omer.

In recent years, “Counting the Omer” has been re-imagined as an invitation to Mindfulness practice: paying attention not only to each day as it passes but also to the individual spiritual qualities that were assigned to it by the 16th century Jewish mystics.

“The counting helps us to pay attention to the movement of our lives,” says Rabbi Yael. “Counting the Omer helps us notice the subtle shifts in our lives, the big changes, all the yearnings, strivings, disappointments, hopes and fears.”

An Omer is a measure of barley. In Biblical times, the Counting of the Omer marked the time between the barley and wheat harvests. Every night during that period, farmers would wave an Omer to plead for an abundant crop. Over time, the agricultural ritual was replaced by liturgy, and the counting became a way to mark the Israelites’ journey from bondage in Egypt to revelation at Mount Sinai.

For the Kabbalists, the Counting of the Omer became a time of spiritual exploration and cleansing, a way to prepare the soul for revelation. The mystics divided the time into seven weeks, with each week containing a specific spiritual quality. On each of the 49 days, two of the qualities intersect with each other, making each day is unique.

Rabbi Levy has been exploring the Mindfulness potential of Counting the Omer for more than a decade, in particular during time she spends each year backpacking alone in the red rock desert of southern Utah. In addition, she leads an annual five-day Mindfulness retreat at Shavuot at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.

She points out that the Hebrew word for ‘desert wilderness’ – midbar – is the same as the word for ‘speak’ – midaber. “The mystics teach that when we leave our routines, habits and expectations and allow ourselves to go into the unknown, to traverse the wilderness of mind and spirit, we open ourselves to receive Divine guidance.”


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