Advice for the Omer


    Dear Readers,

    We are currently (until sundown tonight) in the part of Passover called chol ha-moed, or the intermediate days. Even though work is permitted on chol ha-moed, it should be done a little bit differently so that it still feels like a holiday. In that spirit, today's column will be a little bit different as well.

    The Omer is the seven weeks in between Passover and Shavuot, ostensibly the time that the Jews wandered in the desert before receiving the Torah. The Omer starts on the second night of Passover, so tonight will mark the sixth night. Some people set an intention for each day of the Omer or do something in particular to help them remember to count each night. I'm going to offer you a piece of advice for each day of the Omer so far, including the one we'll count tonight. This is advice that's not tied to a particular question, but rather, general guidelines for a successful life, or at least a happy day.

    1. Be nice. I know this is just about as plain vanilla as advice can get, but since so many people don't follow it, that means it's worth repeating. A corollary to this is to give compliments. It will make both you and the receiver feel all warm and fuzzy, and telling other people they look good makes you look good.

    2. Be responsible. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you say you're going to be somewhere, be there. If you can't hold up your obligation, let someone know as far in advance as you possibly can.

    3. Take time for yourself. Figure out what you like to do and find time to do it. If and when you do, you'll find both 1. and 2. easier to accomplish.

    4. Say what you mean. This doesn't mean disregard 1. but it does mean that a lot of aggravating misunderstandings can be avoided by not playing games and by being straightforward about your intentions. The corollary here is to take others at their word. Try both of these for a day. It's refreshing.

    5. Pick up after yourself. That might mean the clothes on the floor, but it could also mean fixing a broken friendship, pitching in more at home or work, or resolving to clean up while you're cooking instead of waiting until you've finished making dinner for 20 and are too exhausted to do the dishes and decide to leave them for…later. (That last one definitely isn't about me.)

    6. Participate in ritual, community or tradition. This can be counting the omer, making your mom's famous chocolate covered matzah, joining a book club, volunteering or any number of other experiences. Being part of something outside yourself helps put your own life in perspective and helps ground you.

    Whether or not you choose to count the Omer, think of the next 43-ish days as an opportunity to make a resolution, make yourself better and prepare yourself for revelation, whatever that means to you.

    Be well,