OMER COUNTER
BASED ON PLANTS MENTIONED IN THE TANACH
- PAULINE FRANKENBERG -

 

This is a Sefirah or Omer Counter, a mnemonic device used in the home for the seven-week ritual of counting the Omer, which is the period in the Jewish calendar starting on the second day of Passover and lasting until Shavuot. It therefore links the calendar commemoration of the exodus from Egypt with the revelation at Sinai.

Leviticus 23.15 establishes the commandment to count the 49 days of the seven weeks. Mishnah Menahoth (ch.10) describes and elaborates the biblical rules regarding the offering of barley sheafs during this period, including (10:3) a controversy the "Boethusians" or Sadducees, with their strict adherence to the unelaborated biblical text, and the Pharisees, with their adherence to the Oral Torah (Birnbaum, Encyclopaedia of Jewish Concepts, 1995: 470).

After sunset at the beginning of each day of the Omer, a general blessing is pronounced, standing, followed by a ritualised formula, for example"Today is the 22nd day, which is three weeks and one day of the omer" (illustrated here by grapes). As the Omer finishes (here marked by the fertile olive), Shavuot begins and the observant repair to the synagogue to remain engaged all night in the study and discussion of Torah.

The Omer is a period of partial mourning, which is interrupted on the 33rd day by Lag B'Omer, here suitably illustrated by sweet-smelling, frankincense, a joyful day when it is permitted once again to cut one's hair, go on picnics and light bonfires (see Siegel et al., The First Jewish Catalogue, pp.145-148, for a brief account of some of the many customs and beliefs that have collected around the Omer over the centuries).

Pauline Frankenberg, a research fellow of the Centre for Jewish Studies at the Unviersity of Manchester, painted the illustrations on this site for the use of her own family, as gifts for friends and as part of a more ambitious and longer project to identify and depict the specific plants mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and their practical, symbolic and religious significance for Jews, then and now. She may be contacted at RFrank1251@netscape.net

 

Blessing Page Counter cover Omer 1 Omer 2 Omer 3 Omer 4
Blessing Cover Omer 1 Omer 2 Omer 3 Omer 4
Omer 5 Omer 6 Omer 7 Omer 8 Omer 9 Omer 10
Omer 5 Omer 6 Omer 7 Omer 8 Omer 9 Omer 10
Omer 11 Omer 12 Omer 13 Omer 14 Omer 15 Omer 16
Omer 11 Omer 12 Omer 13 Omer 14 Omer 15 Omer 16
Omer 17 Omer 18 Omer 19 Omer 20 Omer 21 Omer 22
Omer 17 Omer 18 Omer 19 Omer 20 Omer 21 Omer 22
Omer 23 Omer 24 Omer 25 Omer 26 Omer 27 Omer 28
Omer 23 Omer 24 Omer 25 Omer 26 Omer 27 Omer 28
Omer 29 Omer 30 Omer 31 Omer 32 Omer 33 Omer 34
Omer 29 Omer 30 Omer 31 Omer 32 Omer 33 Omer 34
Omer 35 Omer 36 Omer 37 Omer 38 Omer 39 Omer 40
Omer 35 Omer 36 Omer 37 Omer 38 Omer 39 Omer 40
Omer 41 Omer 42 Omer 43 Omer 44 Omer 45 Omer 46
Omer 41 Omer 42 Omer 43 Omer 44 Omer 45 Omer 46
Omer 47 Omer 48 Omer 49      
Omer 47 Omer 48 Omer 49