And now I'm reminded that I had been hoping to be given one of those great Sefira booklets that make us delve more deeply into the spiritual aspects of Sefira. I had been hoping to review one. Maybe next year...
ספירה Sefira means counting and it's what we refer to in short for ספירת העומר S'firat HaOmer, The Counting of the Omer. Nu, that doesn't help much. Does it? Here's the beginning of the article from Judaism 101:
You shall count for yourselves -- from the day after the Shabbat, from the day when you bring the Omer of the waving -- seven Shabbats, they shall be complete. Until the day after the seventh sabbath you shall count, fifty days... -Leviticus 23:15-16Remembering to count is not always so easy. It took me many years until I could count every night and not miss even one. I finally succeeded with the help of a free cell phone reminder that beeped every night and got me on track. That was ten years ago. Since then I've managed quite well most years with email reminders. Of course, the problem is always on Friday nights when I'm not on the computer and the phone is turned off. Those who go to shul on Friday nights for Kabbalat Shabbat, Shabbat Prayers count with the congregation.
You shall count for yourselves seven weeks, from when the sickle is first put to the standing crop shall you begin counting seven weeks. Then you will observe the Festival of Shavu'ot for the L-RD, your G-d -Deuteronomy 16:9-10According to the Torah (Lev. 23:15), we are obligated to count the days from Passover to Shavu'ot. This period is known as the Counting of the Omer. An omer is a unit of measure. On the second day of Passover, in the days of the Temple, an omer of barley was cut down and brought to the Temple as an offering. This grain offering was referred to as the Omer.
Every night, from the second night of Passover to the night before Shavu'ot, we recite a blessing and state the count of the omer in both weeks and days. So on the 16th day, you would say "Today is sixteen days, which is two weeks and two days of the Omer." The Orthodox Union has a chart that provides the transliterated Hebrew and English text of the counting day-by-day. Or if you'd prefer an amusing (yet still accurate!) Simpsons-themed discussion of the Omer along with an Omer calendar, check out The Homer Calendar.
The counting is intended to remind us of the link between Passover, which commemorates the Exodus, and Shavu'ot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. It reminds us that the redemption from slavery was not complete until we received the Torah. (complete article)
If you have a free email reminder and/or cell phone system to recommend, please add it in the comments, thanks.