50 Days of Repentance

Those who follow this blog know that in the spring of each year we count together the 50 days from Passover to the next major holiday—Shavuot. This is called the counting of the Omer. Many teachers of Kabbalah draw inspiration from a small booklet written by Rabbi Simon Jacobson on the counting of the Omer and its relation to the Sefirot of the Tree of Life. Less known is a more recent volume by Rabbi Jacobson (2003) entitled 60 days: A Spiritual Guide to the High Holidays. How can you not be intrigued by a workbook that portrays itself as: “The story of love, betrayal, and reconciliation. The story of our lives, the story of love lost and love reclaimed.”

60 Days is a workbook on repentance. Rabbi Jacobson includes the entire months of Elul (our current month) and Tishrei (tacking on the 30th day of Av as the new moon of Elul) thereby arriving at 60 days. I would suggest just a slight revision as I like finding balance between conceptual structures—and instead create another 50 day “count”—this one for the fall months (there are 29 days in Elul, and 22 days through the final holiday in Tishrei—the 8th day of the Sukkot festival).*

The fall has a very different energy than the spring—and so the count of 50 days in the fall relates to rectification, acknowledging that we have flaws and knowing that we can transform those flaws into assets for our spiritual growth.  The energy connected to this month of Elul is the energy of recycling—to see the value in those aspects of ourselves (and in our environment) that we might want to deny, discard or reject.

So we will follow weekly a program of reclamation in an effort to hold all aspects of ourselves and enter the New Year and beyond for a sweetened year—neither sugar coated in pretend (that is not me) nor bittersweet in regret (shamed of oneself).

The work then for this week is to awaken. The crisper air of fall is a signal as is the tradition of the call to attention of the Shofar (ram’s horn) that we begin to blow each morning starting on the first day of Elul.

Start an inventory of your flaws, those actions that you are not proud of and character traits that could be sweetened. We have 50 days (7 weeks) to count.

It is 2:00 a.m.  I am asleep but my heart is awake.

And *29+22= 51, but there is an interesting teaching that Rosh Hashanah which spans two days is one “long day”.


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