This, the last week of the Omer, is the week of Malchut (translated as sovereignty or nobility).
Tonight after sundown will be the last (49th) night of my counting the Omer. Tomorrow night we will have arrived at Shavuot, the 50th day. This is the holiday toward which we have been counting since Passover. I love the holiday of Shavuot, surely the most unappreciated and un-observed of the major Jewish holidays.
What do I love? I love the imagery of it being the wedding between God and us. Immersed as I am in Torah and Torah study, I love the idea that Torah is understood to be the marriage document (the ketubah) that God gave us — studying Torah is considered a form of prayer, a way to communicate with God, a way to hold God close as a partner.
The tradition of staying up the night of Shavuot to study is a highlight of my Jewish year. I have been commemorating this tikkun leil Shavuot for the past several years in the Berkshires, where a small group of folks from Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, Congregation Beth El in Bennington, VT, and from the Williams College community join together for a night of song and study. I will be teaching on the theme of particularism and universalism and our expanding universe of obligation (inspired by my AJWS fellowship studies). Chaim will be teaching on economic justice issues.
Last year I was feeling bereft at Shavuot for the end of my daily Omer count, a practice that had been my one and only daily spiritual practice for the past several years. This year I am pleased to have not only intensified that practice by keeping this (albeit occasional) Omer blog, but also to have started a daily prayer, chant and meditation practice (compelled by my high blood pressure) that will fill me all the year through.
For many years, the two missing pieces in my life were longings for such a daily spiritual practice, as well as for a true call to social justice, not a mere dabbling. Both have been answered in this Omer period. The commitment to a morning prayer practice is a dream fulfilled, and my week in DC with AJWS finally gave me the confidence and skills I needed to do the advocacy work I have longed to do in the social justice realm.
As R. Simon Jacobson says of this week of Malchut,
“Malchut manifests and actualizes the character and majesty of the human spirit. It is the very fiber of what makes us human. Malchut is a sense of belonging. Knowing that you matter and that you make a difference. That you have the ability to be a proficient leader in your own right. It gives you independence and confidence. A feeling of certainty and authority.”
For me, this is truly a statement of where I am. As this Omer period comes to a close, I feel a great deal of gratitude for these gifts, and I say AMEN!