On Monday, May 6, the Young Israel of Holliswood hosted a virtual Rosh Chodesh Iyar women’s shiur featuring Mrs. Chani Juravel, LCSW and popular lecturer. She spoke about S’firas HaOmer and the idea of counting seven weeks in a way that is complete. She shared that we need to ask ourselves as we count, did I make it a complete week? Did I really live every day in a unique way? We should try to experience deep appreciation for what we have. When we come up against difficulties, we should tell ourselves that today I’ve become that much more complete.

The essence of t’filah is the idea of changing and drawing closer to Hashem. She noted how on Shabbos we don’t think of requests when we daven. She noted that there is one paragraph in Shabbos davening where we make different types of requests. We ask Hashem to be pleased with our rest and to sanctify us with His commandments. Why is this request allowed on Shabbos? In this paragraph, we are not requesting good health or income. We are instead asking for what counts most, which is to make our life worth living. We’re saying to Hashem that we need to understand Him and that we want Him to want us even when we are resting.

She explained that it is all about who we are becoming, based on our thoughts. What will help us to feel elevated? The answer is knowing that we can tap into Hashem’s mitzvos. Our job is to make the mundane holy. “There is no such thing as a time when we can’t be connected.”

We make the statement in that paragraph that Hashem sanctifies us constantly by our ability to do mitzvos. We say, “I have a portion in your Torah. I am necessary. She emphasized that there is no such thing as someone not worthy of respect or dignity. We ask Hashem to make us satisfied with what is good. Even in the hardest days, we can say, “Hashem, help me love You more.”

We begin Sh’moneh Esrei with the prayer asking Hashem to open our lips. We say, “You can make me feel Your presence even in the worst times.” We ask Him to make our heart expansive enough to be happy for others.

She added, ”There is no such thing as a prayer that Hashem doesn’t hear.”

We are all connected to each other. She shared a beautiful story about a woman who was still davening after 17 years to merit having a child. She related that it wasn’t difficult for her to keep davening because when she closed her eyes before davening, she pictured all the babies born from all her t’filos over the years. What a beautiful way to feel connected to klal Yisrael.

She shared a quote from a rav that we don’t realize the power we have every day. She shared an incredible story about an artist who painted the inside of a bomb shelter in Israel so it would be less scary for children. The government saw his work and commissioned him to do this in all the bomb shelters. He asked if he could do different types of paintings in each one and they complied. On October 7, when people called for help and described the paintings in the shelters to identify where they were, this artist was called and asked if he knew which paintings were in which shelter location, and he did, and he was able to assist the police to save hundreds of lives. No one else could have saved their lives. The mission of his life was to save human beings. He just thought he was living life as an artist. She said you should never discount your day. You don’t know what you are accomplishing as per the above story.

In the above-mentioned paragraph on Shabbos, we ask Hashem to purify our heart to serve Him with truth. We need His help. This t’filah is the power of S’firas HaOmer. We say to Hashem that the greatest gift you give me is Shabbos. Every day gives us a deeper belief in Hashem and in ourselves.

She noted that this is the time of year that we learn Pirkei Avos and focus extra hard on our midos. We begin this learning with stating that every Jew has a portion in the World to Come. If this is the case, then what is my counting and growing really about? She shared an analogy. You could have a perfect seat at an incredible concert but if you don’t appreciate the music it isn’t going to matter. The only way I will enjoy the World to Come is if I learn to appreciate that music while I am alive. “I need to learn to appreciate the timber of Hashem’s music.” On the days of S’firah I remind myself that I have a portion and I make it more real and more mine. I’m becoming something that I am creating.

By Susie Garber