The Counting of the Omer & the Human Project

Week 2

Today marks the second week of the Omer, and this week we focus on the notion of humility. In upcoming weeks, expect our rabbis’ reflections on other aspects of the Human Project: Truth, Dignity, Purpose, Community, and Hope.

Our intention is that these weekly emails will foster an introspective period for our community, enhancing the Omer’s relevance, and leading us towards a deeper understanding of the Human Project — an essential component of Temple Micah's Roadmap.

Today's Reflection: Humility

A favorite joke:

It is Yom Kippur afternoon. The rabbi, overcome by the power of the day, goes before the ark, bows down to the ground in front of it and lying prostrate cries out, “I am like nothing before you dear God, as I pray for forgiveness on this holiest day.”

The cantor, seeing the rabbi lying and begging before the ark throws himself to the floor also crying, “God! I too am like nothing before you as I beg forgiveness on this holiest day.”

In the back of the sanctuary, Shmuly the Shamos sees his beloved rabbi and his beloved cantor on the ground pleading before God. Shmuly is overcome with emotion and runs to the bimah where he too throws himself to the ground crying, “I too am like nothing before you, dear God!”

With that, the rabbi pokes the cantor in the ribs and whispers, “Look who thinks he’s nothing!”

What does it mean to have humility? Can only a SOMEBODY be a nothing? The question is a serious one especially when we consider Torah’s statement about Moses, “Moses was a very humble man, humbler than anyone else on the face of the earth.” (Numbers 12:3) Moses the liberator, the lawgiver, the leader, the greatest figure in all Jewish literature is also the humblest?

As a teenager, I had one of those small signs for my desk: “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”

Was it hard for Moses?

I was told that Vice President Rockefeller had a different sign on his desk: “You can accomplish a lot in life if you don’t care who takes credit for it.”

The Hebrew word for humility is Anavah (Ayin-Nun-Vava-Hey). One way of understanding Anavah that I discovered is the ability to occupy your God-given space in the world—to neither overestimate nor underestimate who you are. In this sense, for me, the ability to really know and be comfortable with yourself is a lifelong effort befitting what we call the Human Project. As we pursue this self-understanding, we learn humility.

Question for Reflection

What sign would you like to have on your desk?

About the Counting of the Omer

The Omer is a period of counting that spans the 49 days (7 weeks) between the holidays of Passover and Shavuot. The name – Omer – refers to an ancient measure of grain which was brought as an offering to the Temple in Jerusalem on the second day of Passover.

After the destruction of the Temple, the counting of the Omer was reinterpreted as time of introspection leading up to the holiday of Shavuot, which commemorates the giving of the Torah. While there are different ways to approach introspection, this year we are choosing to reflect on the Human Project, an essential component of Temple Micah's Roadmap.

Exploring Temple Micah's Roadmap: the Human Project

For this year’s counting, Temple Micah's rabbis will send out a special, weekly email highlighting a different aspect of the the Human Project for us to ponder throughout the week.

In the simplest of explanations, the Human Project is a set of ideas that focus on our shared humanity and what it means to be a good person. It asks us to look inwards at ourselves, acknowledging our own dignity, and to spread this awareness outwards to our communities and the world. We look forward to sharing our reflections with you.


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