This is a modern Omer counter created by Avi Biran, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. The artistic object is made of gold plate on brass. The design shows a stalk of grain growing out of the earth. On the side there is a quote from Devarim (Deuteronomy) (16: 9) referring to counting the Omer: “You shall count off seven weeks; starting when the sickle is first put to the standing grain.” On the front of the rectangular box is a depiction of a sheaf of barley comprising seven holes in two columns. The holes in one column represent the seven weeks of the Omer and in the other column the seven days of the week. The counting is done by moving two yellow “grains” to the place marking the appropriate week and day. For example, on the thirteenth day of the Omer, when the person counting would recite “Today is thirteen days, which is one week and six days of the Omer,” they would move one “grain” to the first hole of the column (i.e., one week) and the second to the sixth hole (i.e., six days).
This is Jewish ritual object used during the period of the Omer, when, according to the Torah, one should count the days between the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot. In order to remember which day to count, many people use aids like this, traditional counting tables, or online apps.
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Counting the Omer – The Omer is the forty-nine-day period between the second night of Pesach and Shavuot. The Torah (Leviticus 23:15–16) commands us to count seven full weeks from when an omer of grain was first brought to the Temple on the second day of Pesach. The omer was a unit of measurement and the grain (barley) was brought to the Temple as an offering every day for forty-nine days. On the fiftieth day of the Omer, the holiday of Shavuot is celebrated. Although, after the destruction of the Temple, offerings were no longer made, Jews continue to count the days of the Omer. Counting is done at night by reciting the blessing: “Blessed are you, Lord our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has sanctified us with your commandments and commanded us to count the Omer.” This is followed by counting the specific day with the formula: “Today is X day, which is X weeks and X days of the Omer.” As of the Middle Ages, the Omer has been regarded as a period of mourning, except for the thirty-third day, Lag B’Omer, which is seen as a day of festivity.
The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design - The Bezalel Academy of Art and Design was established in 1906 and named for Bezalel, the craftsman tasked with building the tabernacle (mishkan) as described in the book of Exodus. Today Bezalel is a world renowned art school with over 2,000 students. The art created by its students and faculty in the early 1900s was considered the springboard for twentieth-century Israeli visual arts.