A few months ago the guest list to my Shemini Atzeret dinner was growing quickly as the holiday approached. Even though I had cooked enough chicken to feed twenty, I asked a friend to pick up a pound of turkey, just to be on the safe side. About an hour before candlelighting, my friend stopped by with one pound of chopped turkey, instead of the sliced turkey which I had assumed would be clear from this last minute request. The turkey remains in my freezer to this day. The Midrash in Leviticus Rabbah 28:1 reminds me of this encounter: “If a person buys a pound of meat in the market, how much trouble he must go through, how much anxiety he must suffer until he cooks it! While we sleep, God causes the winds to blow, clouds to rise, plants to grow, and fruits to be plump, but we only offer God the reward of an Omer, a sheaf of the first fruits of our harvest.”
This Midrash helps us understand the custom of counting the Omer which is discussed in this week’s Torah portion, Emor. Let our small act of counting the Omer serve as a daily reminder of all of the things that God does for each and every one of us, while we are awake and while we are asleep.
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