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Days Count

Imagine if we were born knowing exactly how long we would live, right down to the last minute on the last day of our lives. Do you think we would look at life differently?

Consider this:

One day, a dentist friend, while working on my teeth, told me that it was his fiftieth birthday. ‘Well then, just ten more years to live. to really live!’ I joked through the nitrous oxide. Though I was only half-kidding, he was apparently ripe to hear this, and a few months later changed his office hours to a four-day week. I have never seen him so light hearted as when he speaks about how much more time he has to live by giving himself one extra day each week.
  - From, A Year to Live, by Stephen Levine

And now consider what the Torah says about Abraham, the founding father of the Jewish people, as he approached the end of his life:

Now Abraham was quite old, he came with his days, and God blessed him in every way … these were the days of the years of the life lived by Abraham; one hundred years and seventy years and five years.
  - Genesis 24:1 / 25:7


What a Day, What a Life

When reflecting on the life of Abraham, the Torah makes a point of highlighting the days of his life. The man who launched the Jewish presence on the stage of history was a man who was acutely aware of his days, and made each of them count. Abraham’s attitude toward the days of his life belied an all-encompassing love and value for life itself. To Abraham, the totality of life was a gigantic, remarkable gift. Each day, therefore, was a unique and priceless opportunity to be deeply embraced and fully engaged. To Abraham, every day of life possessed great value, great meaning, and great potential.

The Lost Holi-days

Rocket launches begin with a count down, in Jewish life, we actually begin one of our major holidays with a count up.

The holiday of Passover is very well known and celebrates the liberation of the Jews from Egyptian bondage. A far lesser known, but equally as important holiday, takes place forty-nine days after Passover. This is the holiday of Shavuot, and it marks the day on which God gave the Torah (also known as the Five Books of Moses and the Bible) to the Jewish nation on Mount Sinai. Even lesser known than Shavuot, is one of Judaism’s hidden gems; the Counting of the Omer. Bet you never heard of that one. The Counting of the Omer works like this: We actually count up each and every day from Passover to Shavuot. Day one, day two, day three and so on, until we reach day   forty-nine and the holiday of Shavuot.

Life Counts

Some people collect seashells, some collect baseball cards and others collect antiques. As Jews, as the descendants of Abraham, we strive to collect days—and to make each and every one of them count. With the approach of Shavuot, as we count our way towards the holiday, we strive to become a collector of days: to cherish not only life, but days. To embrace each day as a fresh opportunity for achievement, for meaning, for spirituality, for kindness, for personal growth—for connection to God. After all, isn’t this what really counts?


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Comments icon May 27, 2009