Sefira – Appreciating Life’s gifts

By Mrs. Esther Markel


Boy, is it overwhelming to be a Jew! First came the scrubbing, cleaning and polishing in the weeks prior to Pesach. Then came all the cooking, and cooking, and cooking for all the myriad of meals that are to be eaten during this week. Did anyone else notice that we seem to be doing more eating this week, than months of the rest of the year? When the cooking marathon is finally over, the Seders arrive, where we are commanded to eat all that matzah, maror and wine in prescribed measurements, and wolf it all down in that little window of time that we are given. When that was all over, the actual week was a beautiful one of respite and time well spent with my children and grandchildren.

With Pesach a thing of the past at this point, it is now time to get back to the myriad of tasks that have been awaiting me.  ­­My desk is full of papers that need to be tended to.  My iPhone is filled with apps that remind me of the multitude of responsibilities that must be completed by yesterday.  How will I ever keep up?  No sooner do I cross a task off my “to do” list, that three more instantly crop up! My life sometimes feels like a whirlwind of activity without even a moment to pause and reflect.

And now Hashem, in His infinite wisdom, has given me something else to remember to do—every single day! How can I connect to Him?  By remembering to make the “count” every single day of Sefiras HaOmer (the counting of the Omer). Did I really need this one more item to add to my list of things to do?

Wait, stop, reframe and refocus!  Didn’t I just say that what was missing from my life was that gift of the moment to pause and reflect?  And here I’ve been handed exactly that gift by the One who knows our every need.  All He is asking me to do, every single day as I count the Sefira, is to form a new habit—a habit of introspection, a habit of self-reflection.  He is asking me to pause and examine the facets of my soul- every single one of them, and see where I can refine and polish.

He’s asking me to examine my relationships with others, and my relationship with myself and make sure that I’m in a perpetual state of growth.  He is telling me as I count each day, that every moment matters, and He is urging me to fill the moments with choices that will reflect the strivings of my soul.

Sefira will feel different tonight.  Thank you, Hashem, for the tremendous gift of time and the reminder of how to make it count.


Morah Esther Markel is an educator par excellence. Over the past 35 years of her teaching career she has taught the full educational gamut. She has served as an educator on all levels—beginning as a nursery school teacher and director, after which she continued on to teach every single grade of elementary school, from pre-K to eighth grade. She currently serves as the Judaic principal of the Conejo Jewish Day School (CJDS).Greatly loved by all who know her, she is affectionately referred to as “Morah Esther” by her thousands of students.  She is passionate about instilling strong Jewish values and a love for Torah in all her “children.”

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