And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord. Leviticus 23:15-16
Note: This is not a complete study on the subject, and so if you do not have prior background in this information, you might find it a little confusing. Still, we challenge you to read on, check out the links, and be a Berean. It’s worth it!! 🙂
Just when you think you have at least some of the basics figured out, you get a curve ball…
Oy vey! Uh, I mean: Praise YHVH!
If you had the chance to watch the pre-Passover marathon Q&A webinar that Kim and I hosted back in March (which is still available in replay), then you know that we were in the midst of a newly-realized conundrum about when to start “Counting the Omer” this year, and therefore when to keep the Feast of Shavuot.
This began when I checked both A Rood Awakening’s listing of when the Spring Feast dates would be — according to Michael Rood’s Astronomically and Agriculturally Corrected Biblical Hebrew Calendar — as well as what Nehemia Gordon calendar representing when Karaite Jews observe the Feasts.
And, for the first time in my almost 15 years of paying attention to the “observable calendar”, they didn’t line up.
I mean, it’s pretty common that they don’t jibe with the Jewish/Rabbinic calendar, I’ve learned to expect that, but I’m used to Michael and Nehemia walking in lockstep on all major, and most minor, calendar issues.
So, as I have a curious mind and like to see if I can solve mysteries myself, I started wondering what this could be about.
As I know that both Nehemia and Michael don’t give the Rabbinical calendar any authority, I was confident that this had nothing to do with the fact that the Jewish Calendar was also starting to count the Omer on a Sunday this year. So I figured it must have to do with the fact that, on the observable calendar, the 14 of Aviv (the first month) fell on a weekly Shabbat this year, and somehow Karaites believed that you could start counting the Omer the next day (Sunday/First Day of the Week), and Michael believed that we needed to wait for the next weekly Shabbat to come and go before the counting would begin.
Honestly, from my understanding up to that point, I was planning wait a whole week after the Passover seder to start counting…but I respect and trust Nehemia, and so I needed to dig further find out what the deal was.
Thankfully, Nehemia is an old friend and accessible to me, so I started corresponding. And those of you who were on our Passover webinar, learned what I came up with….
Here is the article that Nehemia directed me to to as to why the Karaites start counting the Omer on the First Day of the week that falls during the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread: www.nehemiaswall.com/truth-shavuot He had published it on his blog a couple years ago, but republished it about a month ago. As always, Nehemia is scholarly in his approach, and very complete in his explanation. That alone doesn’t prove he is correct, but he makes a great argument.
As you consider all this, keep in mind that “the Passover” is the sacrifice of the lamb, and that happens on the afternoon of the 14th, which this year was on the weekly Sabbath. So, that means it is possible that THAT Sabbath can/could be counted as the Sabbath after which we are to start counting toward Shavuot, and if you believe that, then you don’t have to wait a whole week for another weekly Shabbat to pass. At least, that is a major component of the Karaite understanding. But there is a lot more to it, so I encourage you to go in-depth with Nehemia’s article.
At the time we did the webinar back in March, we were not sure which way to go, but then after more study and discussion with others, we became 99% convinced that the Counting of the Omer this year should begin on the first day of Unleavened Bread. So, that is how our family has been Counting the Omer, and we plan to keep Shavuot this coming Saturday night and Sunday (May 23/24).
Also, being completely transparent, as a Jew and and Israeli, it’s difficult (challenging, sad, conflicting, etc.) to pretty much always be keeping the set-apart days of YHVH on different days then the rest of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. So, on the rare occasions when things actually line up (on average once every 7 years, in the case of Shavuot), my heart is to keep it at the same time.
But, who knows? Since this is a new understanding/practice for for my family — maybe we will keep it both this Sunday and next Sunday, just to make sure — wouldn’t be the first time we did that! 😉
OK, why didn’t we come back to you and proclaim this sooner? Well, we’re reticent to share things we’re not completely sure about and haven’t tested, other than to say, “This is what our family has decided to do,” and so I just decided to hang back and let you all do your studies and decide.
But, as we are now promoting a Shavuot Celebration THIS weekend in South Florida, during which I am honored to lead the Scripture study, people wrote asking about what my position is on when to keep Shavuot this year. And so, since I responded to them, I figured it would be good for me to also share with you. 😉
Oh well! This could have been a super-special year when the Rabbinites, Karaites, and Roodites were all observing Shavuot on the same day…unfortunately, the stars didn’t align.
Come Y’shua come. Come Moshiach come. Come and set us ALL straight!
Chag Samayach (Joyous Feast),
Chaim & Family
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FYI: If you or anyone you know is in South Florida, come join our family this Saturday evening for a Shavuot/Pentecost Celebration at Congregation Bet Avinu in Davie (Ft. Lauderdale). CLICK HERE for all the info.
And learn what REALLY happened on Pentecost the year Y’shua died, by checking out “The Upper Room Conspiracy”
Repairing the Breach’s pre-Passover Webinar
A Rood Awakening’s Feast Day List
Nehemia Gordon’s “The Truth About Shavuot” Article
March 23rd Shavuot Celebration in South Florida