Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Oddly enough, as they explained the holiday, I noted with great curiosity that the Omer corresponds to the Great Fifty Days of Easter. In Christianity, there are fifty days from Easter (which took place at Passover - "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us...) to Pentecost (when the early followers of the Way were gathered to celebrate their traditional holiday, Shavu'ot).
In Judaism, there are fifty days from Pesach (Passover) to Shavu'ot (the celebration of the giving of the Torah). The similarities are stunning.
Giving of the Torah. Giving of the Holy Spirit.
This holiday, for them, has mystic implications as well, and is wrapped up somewhat in the tradition of Kabbalah. Some say Rabbi Akiba, traditionally thought of as the author of the Zohar, the book of Kabbalah so to speak, died on this day. Turns out I was halfway right with my first guess of hippies. Just that they are Jewish hippies. I learned a lot about free artistic expression, some pilgrimage a bunch of them go on called Burning Man to the desert of Nevada, and the importance of community and community living. We chatted about Israel (the woman whose apartment it is, my actual neighbor, lived there for 13 years in a socialistic community), about this holiday, about who they are in relation to other Jews (as in they gather on their own to worship and experience liturgy and ritual, rather than participate in a traditional synagogue), and all manner of other things. My conversational Hebrew was embarrassing, but they were amused by my attempts. It was kinda neat; it was a blessing to me to participate in this little bit of their celebration. I quickly went from being disturbed to feeling blessed and was glad I didn't get angry with them for making too much noise. And it was a darn good s'more.