Counting the Omer: Day 19


By Leah Zimmerman

It’s the 19th day of the Omer. The Omer are the 49 days between the second night of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot.  The Kabbalah gives each week its own spiritual quality and each day of the week one of the same quality. This week’s quality is Tiferet, splendor, beauty, harmony. Today’s quality is Hod, humility.

On this day last year, I joined a fabulous ensemble to open in the play The Diary of Anne Frank. I felt extraordinarily lucky to have this opportunity to perform a beautifully written woman’s role, Mrs. Van Daan, in such an important story. It had been an exceptional experience living in this role with these characters during a period of time when we remember the Holocaust, celebrate rebirth and anticipate receiving Torah.

Sometimes it is against a backdrop of darkness that we see glimmers of light. Seven of the people who hid in the annex died along with millions of others in the camp. Living in the shoes of one of the characters has given me a new lens for viewing the enormity of the event.   But, it has also given me a deeper appreciation for the people who worked to hid and sustain the families that hid. I have found myself deeply humbled by the story of Miep Gies who risked her life to follow her moral inclination to take care of her friends, to defy the darkness that was around her. It is in her actions that I see Tiferet – the beauty, and splendor of God and creation. We have within us as human beings the capacity to do wondrous things, just as wondrous as the natural world in which we live. To take in, to really process the power of history, the power of an ensemble working together, the power of evil and despite it the power and capacity within us to do good is humbling, Hod, to me.

To be a piece of a story of a production that ells a narrative not only of a historical period, but a story of humanity, of the paradoxes within us, of the challenges we face, of the perseverance of endurance of glimmers of hope and righteousness despite all, feels to me like looking into the cavernous black sky and seeing millions of stars, realizing how small my part is in the story of nature and the story of humanity. I am a small part. Yet, Anne Frank has reminded me how meaningful that part can be when we approach the world with Hod, humility, and allow ourselves to be ourselves and to be moved by Tiferet: beauty and splendor.

On the 19th day of the Omer, I invite you to open yourself to Tiferet. What aspect of God’s creation moves you the most? What humility do you encounter while embracing the enormity of the world in which we live

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