It’s Day 2 of the Omer and I look forward to counting when Day 3 arrives at sundown. Tonight it will be easy to remember, since I’m leading the Women’s Seder at Temple Sinai. Counting will be part of the haggadah, part of the script, and all I have to do is turn a page and my reminder will be there.
The rules for Omer Counting are fairly simple. At sundown, or after dinner, or at 8pm (depending on local practice) one says the blessing and then counts. For instructions on how to count the omer, and the wording of the blessing, click this link.
If one says the blessing and counts at 8pm, fine. If one forgets, but remembers in the morning, that person can count but cannot recite the blessing, and can go on counting with a blessing the next night. If, however, one skips a day, then one is still obligated to count, but not with the blessing.
The Omer is a character building mitzvah. It is a long-run exercise in mindfulness, maintaining an awareness of what day it is and what time it is. And yet the only reward or punishment is the blessing and the knowledge that a mitzvah was performed.
How many aspects of our lives are like this? We pay attention and remember a birthday. We trundle along on autopilot, and fail to notice a depressed child, or the motorcycle in the lane next to us. The rewards for remembering are usually subtle, but when we forget to pay attention, the stakes can be high.
I wish you a mindful Omer season!