LAG B’OMER: FANNING THE FLAMES
By Sherrie B. Miller
Lag B’Omer falls on the 18th of Iyar and is the 33rd day in the counting that begins
on the second day of Pesach until Shavuot. The “omer” offering is brought on the
first day of these seven weeks to the Holy Temple, consisting of flour from the
newly ripened barley harvest.
The “new offering” brought on Shavuot consists of the first offering brought from
the new wheat crop in the form of two when loaves of bread. Barley is known to be
a food ingested by animals while bread signifies and commemorates Holy meals accompanied
by special blessing and requiring the Birkat HaMazon.
The 50 day sefirah, connecting between Pesach and Shavuot is seen a progressive
transformation from lowly animalistic tendencies and passivity as we received G-d’s
gift of freedom from slavery, to spiritual maturity and the attainment of an active
and covenantal partnership and commitment to Torah.
The celebration of Lag B’Omer commemorates the end of the plague that killed 24,000
of Rabbi Akiva’s students, 12,000 chevrutot (study partners). According to Chazal
the plague was caused due to the disrespect shown by the students toward one another.
18th of Iyar is Chai, life! Lamed –Gimel spelled backward is gal, wave.
One could say that life is full of waves, differences of opinion, disagreements
and conflicts, but although we cannot stop the waves we can learn to surf!
Not everyone is born with innate emotional intelligence, yet the good news is that
these skills can be learned! Choice of the Heart is an organization that I began
with Lori Lurie to promote marriage education for nearly and newlyweds to provide
marriage minded people with the necessary skills required in a thriving relationship.
Life presents many challenges and many opportunities for growth. The goal of Torah
is to unify the Jewish people with an authentic solidarity thus creating a formidable
force that will impact the world positively and bring about the revelation of Hashem’s
Presence. This must be done despite and because of our unique and individual approaches
In this week’s Parshat Emor the Torah instructs the Kohen to wave the offering;
“l’hanif” comes from the root “nof”, which means view. Perhaps the lesson is that
we learn to see and understand each other’s point of view. When we can respect
and hold another’s vantage point within, we give them the comfort, security and
empowerment to return the gesture.
After all, no two people are exactly alike. If we were identical to another, one
of us would be superfluous. Just as we don’t expect anyone’s face to look like ours,
so too we ought not expect another’s opinions, thought or feelings to be identical
Differences of opinion bring about increased creativity, productivity and more prolific
Rather then fanning the flames of discord and dissonance, let us learn to truly
respect each other’s diversity of opinions though different. In relationships, respect
is the most fundamental attribute in preserving and cultivating harmony.
Unconditional love is difficult to sustain in the midst of a heated argument. Genuine
respect however, will carry us through. The admiration we feel toward our partner
will automatically create the necessary boundaries in dealing with the conflict
at hand in a mature and rational fashion. To get to Shavuot, to a state of readiness
to receive the Torah, we must be united k’ish echad, b’lev echad, as one person
with one heart.
We need to put our ego aside and step into an other’s shoes and truly see where
they are coming from and where they need to go. We need to make room for each other
within ourselves and help each other feel safe in a world that is so divisive and
Then the “new offering” brought on Shavuot will be waved enthusiastically as we
reach the peak of our potential!
Sherrie B. Miller is a Jewish Matchmaker
on SawYouAtSinai.com and works with
Jewish Singles all over the world. She is an educational guidance counselor,
group leader, pre-marital coach, matchmaker and Judaic Studies teacher. Sherrie
is dedicated to promoting and enhancing emotional intelligence and communication
skills in conjunction with Torah values.
Sherrie received her educational counseling degree from the Michlalah in Bayit Vegan
and an M.A. in Education and Counseling from Touro College, Jerusalem, Israel. Sherrie
also holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Brooklyn College and a
B.Sc. from Yeshiva University in Jewish Education. Sherrie is certified by Midreshet
Emunah and is accredited by the Rabbanut of Israel, to be a pre-marital couple’s
counselor and Kallah teacher.
Before coming to Israel in 1989 from Great Neck, New York, Sherrie taught Judaic
Studies at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Sherrie also educated affiliated and
unaffiliated adults through the “Project Identity” outreach program under the directorship
of Rabbi Yaakov Lerner. Sherrie trained individuals and couples in the laws of Kashrut,
Guidelines of Parenting, Parshat Shavua and Pirkei Avot.
In her work as a Guidance Counselor in the national religious “Mamad” school, "Yehuda
Halevi", Sherrie instructed life skill workshops to students, parents and teachers,
with a focus on communication, conflict resolution and anger management. She also
leads support groups for children of divorce.
Sherrie is certified by the Life Center and leads Parenting workshops based on the
Faber/Mazlish workshops on, “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids
Sherrie is an executive board member of the Emunah World Zionist Organization, Mibreishit,
led by Rav Motti Alon, and Nishmat led my Rabbanit Hanna Henkin.
Sherrie’s diverse background in counseling and teaching, combined with torah principles
and values contribute to the depth and quality of her success with clients. Lessons
drawn from her own life transitions make her coaching perspective uniquely inspirational.
Sherrie helps individuals clarify their goals and take masterful action steps to
reach them. Sherrie is professionally known for her guidance in the educational
system as well as her outstanding capabilities teaching interpersonal relationship
skills to groups and individuals.
Having made a number of successful matches resulting in marriage, Sherrie volunteers
as a matchmaker for SawYouAtSinai, an internet matchmaking site.