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Countup

Friday, 30 April, 2010 - 8:00 am

This weekend we will finally move into our new facilities of the Chabad Jewish Center. We are celebrating with an open house Lag BaOmer BBQ on Sunday.

I say finally because the original plans had us moving in mid-December, so it’s been a long time coming.

In some sense it must be providential that we are at last settling in during the counting of the Omer.

In fact, this week’s Torah portion, Emor, speaks of the mitzvah to count the Omer. Our tradition teaches that the 49 days of counting the Omer correspond to the 49 days that the Jewish people counted from when they left Egypt until they received the Torah at Sinai.

In modern times anticipating a great event such as a new year or a rocket launch is marked by counting down to zero, when the event occurs.

But our ancestors followed a different pattern. One might argue that the Jews’ counting toward Sinai was anticlimactic. Wouldn’t the drama have been elevated if Revelation at Sinai was zero hour?

Why did the Jews count up to the Giving of the Torah, and why do we now count up to 49 rather than down to zero? After all, isn’t zero an absolute target, giving greater emphasis to our anticipated destination?

The past months have been full of anticipation to move into our new spiritual home. As we settle in this week, we arrive at a powerful realization – we are just beginning. The efforts to get us thus far are only paving the way for the work yet to come. If – after all this preparation – our journey is over, we indeed have a net result of zero.

Judaism looks at life and our relationship with our Creator as a constant progression, a work continuously in the making.  We must never be satisfied with the status quo, but yearn and strive for greater goodness and sanctity, for another mitzvah, for another opportunity to discover the G-dly within and without.

The Jews were not looking to arrive at Sinai and say, “This is it. We are done.”

Rather they – and we – continuously attempt to improve and advance.

The journey has just begun.

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