The following video was made to mark the 33rd day of the From the second day of Passover until Shavuot, Jews count seven weeks – seven times seven days – to commemorate the period between the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Sinai. When the Temple stood, a certain measure (omer) of barley was offered on the altar each day; today, we merely count out the days..
Constructed out of handwritten letters, the ל and ג emerge out of a bonfire, deconstruct into individual letter logs.
It is said that we celebrate Lag B’Omer for many reasons, including marking the end of a plague that decimated 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva, that befell them because they did not respect one another.
This 33rd day of the omer corresponds to the kabbalistic value of hod within hod, humility within humility.
It is not enough to study humility. Rather to know it, we must practice it, be consumed by it. We must refuse to believe that there is a scarcity of love in the world, or that there is a scarcity of The Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general.. Or a scarcity of water. Or room to live and be free. We must resist the feeling to own and control.
Glory for the sake of Torah, for the sake of love, will come if we do not steer it, make ourselves big and authoritative and unable to engage.
As a student of sofrut (scribal arts), I am learning to construct the letters stroke by stroke by ink splotch by splintered quill. I am constantly humbled by the magnitude and mystery of the work before me. The power in the letters themselves has become clearer and clearer to me as I learn how to craft them, feel in awe of the fire created by human hands in divine work.
It is not enough to know the letters, we must be consumed by them. Not steer them, but be steered by them. There is lifesaving potential in humility.
It is from that awe that we can begin to construct, to see the individual letters and logs as they build out Torah. That is the Torah that cannot be contained.
[Gratitude to my teacher, Soferet Linda Coppleson, and friend and artist Zoe Priest. Descendants of Aaron who served in the Temple in Jerusalem. Today, in the absence of a Temple, Jews continue to keep track of who is a Cohen. A Cohen is accorded certain privileges in synagogue and is forbidden from entering a graveyard or marrying a divorcee. Priesthood is patrilineal – if one’s father was a Cohen, then one is a Cohen..]