hazzan Diana Brewer was ordained through the aleph ordination program. she leads prayer services regularly at the jewish community of amherst, and is on the staff of the davvenen leadership training institute.

Omer Day 33 הוד שבהוד Hod SheBeHod aka Lag BaOmer

Receptivity within Wow! Within Splendor within Context within Gratitude within...

Wednesday, May 22

Ma Nishtana? What makes this day different from all the other 48? None of the other days gets a special name. Interestingly, the special name is simply the pronunciation of the Hebrew letters whose numeric value is 33 - the 33rd day of the Omer. So, in a sense, it’s not a “special” name, but the day is clearly distinguished as being special by the fact that it is the only one whose numeric value is pronounced. 

Madua? How did we get there? What makes this day so special? 

There are a number of traditions that bring us here, all of which involve some sort of miraculous occurrence. Among these are the lore of the revelation of the Sefer Zohar to Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai - the landmark work of Jewish mysticism, the observance of the yahrzeit of Bar Yochai, to whom Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson attributes a mystical soul connection to Moshe, and the cessation of a plague that killed 24,000 disciples of Rabbi Akiva.

Lag BaOmer marks a temporary lifting of the restrictions of mourning observed during the rest of the Omer period. Weddings, parties, haircuts, and bonfires are all fair game on this especially joyous day. 

Hod SheBeHod. A friend told me recently of a vision he had once, in which he experienced himself as a tiny nub of a twig afloat on a great, massive river. Wow! In giving himself over to the vision, he became Receptive to the experience of being carried, held by the inconceivable force of the river.  To me, this is a beautiful illustration of Hod SheBeHod - being Receptive to a Peak Experience, feeling the Splendor of the vastness of the Divine and our place within the Context of the whole. An experience that could potentially be terrifying becomes an experience of tremendous Gratitude for the Awe of existence.

Experiences of Awe don’t always have to be that pronounced. There are many flavors of Awe, so many different ways to utter, “Wow!” 

Today, may you be Receptive to Awe. may you find Gratitude in feeling yourself in Context. May the bonfire in your soul light the way for you and others, and spread warmth and joy wherever you go! 


Omer Day 34 יסוד שבהוד Yesod SheBeHod

Omer Day 32 נצח שבהוד Netzach SheBeHod