Skip to content

Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach

Home » WHAT CAN NOAHIDES LEARN FROM “THE OMER”?

WHAT CAN NOAHIDES LEARN FROM “THE OMER”?

בס”ד

The 49 Days of “the Omer” and what Noahides can learn from them

Introduction

During the weeks after their Exodus from Egypt  the Jewish people counted the days, in eager anticipation of receiving the Torah from G-d at Mount Sinai.  They counted 49 days before the day of the momentous event arrived. Subsequently, they received a Torah commandment to comemmorate those days by counting them during that time every year. This counting of the Omer / Sefirat HaOmer does not have direct significance for Noahides. The question is, is there something associated with that practice that can be helpful for them?

Universal Significance

The Exodus from Egypt and the acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish people are pivotal events with far-reaching implications for the entire world. The Sages tell us that had the Jewish people not accepted the Torah, G-d forbid, G-d would have reverted the world to the emptiness and darkness at the outset of creation. With the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, G-d revealed His purpose for creation and made His covenant with the Jewish people. Through Moses, G-d also reaffirmed the Seven Noahide Commandments for all of humanity. That took place on the 4th day of Sivan, before He spoke the 10 Commandments to all the Jewish People. We read in Exodus 24:3


Moses went and repeated to the people all the commands of Hashem and all the rules; and all the people answered with one voice, saying, “All the things that Hashem has commanded we will do!”
 וַיָּבֹ֣א משֶׁ֗ה וַיְסַפֵּ֤ר לָעָם֙ אֵ֚ת כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֣י ד’ וְאֵ֖ת כָּל־הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֑ים וַיַּ֨עַן כָּל־הָעָ֜ם ק֤וֹל אֶחָד֙ וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֛ים אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֥ר ד’ נַֽעֲשֶֽׂה

There is a hint in Rashi’s commentary that Hashem restated the Seven Mitzvot at this time, He points out that with “the judgments”, mishpatim in Hebrew, the 7 Noahide Laws are meant:

AND ALL THE JUDGMENTS which had been ordained before the Sinaitic legislation: the seven commands given to the “Sons of Noah”

The Days of the Omer: A Time of Preparation

The journey from Egypt to Sinai spanned 49 days, during which the Jewish people counted the days until they would receive the Torah from G-d. Subsequently, they received a commandment to follow that practice every year, as detailed in Leviticus 23:15-16.


And from the day on which you bring the sheaf of elevation offering—the day after the sabbath—you shall count off seven weeks. They must be complete:
 וּסְפַרְתֶּ֤ם לָכֶם֙ מִמָּֽחֳרַ֣ת הַשַּׁבָּ֔ת מִיּוֹם֙ הֲבִ֣יאֲכֶ֔ם אֶת־עֹ֖מֶר הַתְּנוּפָ֑ה שֶׁ֥בַע שַׁבָּת֖וֹת תְּמִימֹ֥ת תִּֽהְיֶֽינָה
you must count until the day after the seventh week—fifty days; then you shall bring an offering of new grain to Hashem עַ֣ד מִמָּֽחֳרַ֤ת הַשַּׁבָּת֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תִּסְפְּר֖וּ חֲמִשִּׁ֣ים י֑וֹם וְהִקְרַבְתֶּ֛ם מִנְחָ֥ה חֲדָשָׁ֖ה לד


This Jewish commandment, known as the Counting of the Omer, serves as preparation for the significant event of their receiving the Torah annually on their festival of Shavuot. It also became a Jewish practice to use those days for tikkun hamiddot, the focused and conscious effort to improve (tikkun) the 49 (7×7) dimensions of their 7 emotional attributes (middot).

Noahides and the Days of the Omer

As stated above, the receiving of the Torah by the Jews is significant for the world, and it marks an important moment for Noahides as well, as the Seven Noahide Commandments were confirmed at that time as part of the eternal Torah. Pious Noahides accept that they should adhere to these commandments (mitzvot) because they were commanded by G-d at Sinai through Moses. This is important because the Rambam teaches us in Laws of Kings 8:11 the following:

Anyone who accepts upon himself the fulfillment of these seven mitzvot and is precise in their observance is considered one of ‘the pious among the gentiles’ and will merit a share in the World to Come.
This applies only when he accepts them and fulfills them because the Holy One, blessed be He, commanded them in the Torah and informed us through Moses, our teacher, that Noah’s descendants had been commanded to fulfill them previously.

While the ritual of the counting of the Omer is specifically a mitzvah for Jews, could it  be relevant for non-Jews to also pay attention to developing their character traits during this period as well?

My personal experience confirms this. In the year I began my search, the Christian “Lenten period” and the 49 days of the Omer aligned. The 49 days were the time I needed to detach myself from Christianity, days in which questions went unanswered and nothing was learned. The 49 days of the Omer, including actively focusing on the character traits associated with those days and finding answers, led me to consciously choose to become a Noahide on the 50th day. Every year since then, I have devoted extensive attention to these days. Not because you shouldn’t work on developing your character traits on other days, but because it helps to take specific days each year to reflect more than usual. Precisely because the Jewish tradition, from which we learn, pays attention to these days and you can now take advantage of various apps and on-line lessons, it is easier to be consciously engaged in this process.

Just as this period led me to consciously become a Noahide, I hope that when non-Jews use this time to improve their character traits, they will become attached to the Seven Noahide Laws and the associated way of life, and decide to accept them.  This period is an appropriate time to both individually and communally accept and affirm the Noahide laws. This acceptance does not require a Beis Din or witnesses, but may be done individually or personally.

Let’s consider the emotional character traits we are talking about.

These seven fundamental emotional traits form the foundation of our inner world:

These seven emotion attributes of the human soul correspond to the seven Divine attributes that King David spoke of in the verse I Chronicles 29:11 [1]

  • 1. Chesed – Lovingkindness
  • 2. Gevurah – Strength, justice and discipline
  • 3. Tiferet – Harmony and compassion
  • 4. Netzach – Endurance and perseverance
  • 5. Hod – Humility and gratitude
  • 6. Yesod – Connection and foundation
  • 7. Malchut – Sovereignty and leadership

Each of the seven weeks of the Omer is focused on one of these traits; each of the seven days of that week focuses consecutively on one of the seven traits as it is manifested within that one trait, i.e., day one is Chesed of Chesed, day two is Gevurah of Chesed, etc. What is Gevurah of Chesed? It is the strength or discipline within love. For example, when expressing love, are you also able to express disciplined limits where appropriate, for example with your children?

This connects the seven emotional traits explored during the days of the Omer with the 49 aspects of our personality. Each emotional trait represents a unique facet of our inner world, and each aspect of it can be strengthened and refined during the 49 days of conscious self-reflection and growth. This process of self-discovery and improvement leads to a profound understanding of ourselves and an enrichment of our inner world; it helps us to become more refined human beings.

We see this idea reflected in the word “ha-omer,” which in Hebrew has a numerical value (gematria) that equals seven times the gematria of the word “ADaM” – man. “Ha-omer” is spelled as hey (5), plus ayin (70), plus mem (40), reysh (200), so the gematria is 315.

The gematria of “ADaM” is 45: alef (1), daled (4), mem (40). Seven times forty-five is 315. Thus, “ha-omer” equals seven times “ADaM.”[2]

This seven-week process of self-discovery and improvement leads to a profound understanding of ourselves and an enrichment of our inner world. By becoming aware of our inner emotions and refining them, we make space for G-d’s presence in our lives. This enables us to cultivate a deeper relationship with Him and embody His will in our daily lives.

Ultimately, we strive for the Final Redemption, when the entire world will recognize G-d’s sovereignty. This will lead to universal peace and justice, with the world being in harmony with G-d and His will.

How do we do this in practice?

Here is a web page with links to free daily lessons:

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/276672/jewish/Daily-Spiritual-Guide.htm

There are several apps you can use for this purpose for example:

Or

Since not everyone likes an app, the following booklet from Meaningful Life Center is recommendable

When we work on ourselves, we may find that we need help from G-d. We can always pray to G-d in our own words, in our own language, and ask Him for assistance. We can also recite Psalms for this purpose.

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov and a holy tzaddik.  He specified ten Psalms that he said contain the general remedy for matters of the soul. These ten Psalms were revealed to him from Heaven as being a “Tikkun HaKlali” (a General Remedy). They are: 16, 32, 41, 42*, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137*, 150. *These two Psalms have themes that relate specifically to the Jewish people. [3]



By Angelique Sijbolts

With thanks to Rabbi Tani Burton and Dr. Michael Schulman for the feedback

Sources

[1]

  • 1. Chesed – Lovingkindness (In the verse, it is called Gedulah, Greatness)
  • 6. Yesod – Connection and foundation (In the verse, it is referred to by the euphemism  “in the Heavens and on the Earth”, because G-d makes the connection between the spiritual and the physical realms.)
  • 7. Malchut – Sovereignty and leadership (In the verse, it is called Mamlochah, Kingdom.)


[2] Breslov Article: What’s an Omer?
[3] Article AskNoah: Expressing thanks or requests for help to G-d

Text: Sefaria.org

See also the following blogs:

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
On Which Date was the Torah Given?

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.