In this sixth episode of the Okie Hebrew Podcast, I interviewed Shawn Lichaa – author of A Blue Thread, which is one of the leading blogs on the Karaite Jewish experience. Shawn also does some work with the Karaite Jews of America, including the all new KJA Omer app that allows people to count the Omer according to the Karaite Jewish tradition.
In this video, I’m talking about the Karaite Jews of America’s all new Omer Counting App. Currently, the app is available from Google Play for Android devices, but will be available for the iPhone shortly.
The features include: (i) recordings of the counting of the omer for all 50 days; (ii) a “reminder” feature which will play the daily counting of the omer at a time designated by you; and (iii) a brief explanation of the Karaite approach to the date of Shavuot.
“Where IS IT?”
In preparation for my upcoming nuptials to the lovely Shakhar bat David, I recently found an apartment even closer to our neighborhood synagogue – a charming 2-bedroom place in the extremely hip Cherry Street District of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This meant I needed to move a whopping 4 blocks from my rag-tag bachelor pad in the same area. Because it was only 4 blocks and I’m a simple fella, I just threw everything in the back of my hatchback and made trips back and forth till I was eventually moved. Being that the new apartment wasn’t quite ready and it was snowing HARD during the move, my move was…well…less than methodical. I basically tossed all of my belongings in Rubbermaid tubs and hefty garbage bags in order to move it from point A to point B. Because of this, some of my more crucial belongings were not immediately found…my tallit (prayer shawl) and siddur (prayer book).
This normally wouldn’t be as big a deal for some people, but, being that my prayer schedule is really the only thing that keeps this almost frightfully ADHD kid (…oh, look…a squirrel…) even somewhat focused, I had the most out-of-it week imaginable.
I’m not sure why I couldn’t find my tallit and siddur, but I just couldn’t! Every box I overturned and trip to my car with a flash light turned up with bunk. How could it have gotten lost? I only moved 4 blocks! I did my best to pray with other books I had and other tallits, but there’s just something about using your tallit that makes it…well…that makes it feel right – feel like home. Shakhar was wondering why I seemed a little bit out of it this last Shabbat. The best I could do is to describe what it felt like on the inside by relating it on the outside. She knows how much my prayer life is to me (I’ve been late for our dates before because of it) and how I probably wouldn’t miss my morning prayers maybe even if the building was on fire, but she didn’t quite understand the toll it took.
“Well…um…imagine that you went a whole week…um…without showering? Maybe you don’t stink and you may not seem to look that crusty to your co-workers, but you just feel…gross. It’s like a secret that only annoys you. It feels like someone has stolen the soap out of my shower – only instead of soap, it’s my tallit and siddur. Instead of soap for the outside, it’s soap for the inside.”
Shakhar is amazing companion in the sense that she worries more about me usually more than I really worry about me. She could tell I was out of sorts. “You really need to find that your tallit and siddur.” She said this with her “serious eyes.” Usually, I rarely see her eyes because she’s laughing about something, but when she has something serious to say, she does so with those eyes.
Ok, she was on the case now. Extra heat on the case – but not necessarily motivation to get her off my back, but the only reason she could be misconstrued as being on my back is because she was so for me. She knew it was bothering me and she knew that her pressure would heighten my search skills.
“Look at what I just found!”
After ripping apart my quasi-unpacked home, I finally found my tallit bag – containing both my tallit and my siddur…way down deep in laundry hamper that was being used during the move for the very last items in my old apartment. It was like reuniting with an old friend. I hugged it and immediately started in on my evening prayers – being sure to include thanks for finding my old “security blanket” of a tallit to HaShem. It felt like my new home was just home finally. The picture you see in this post is the picture I sent her after just having found my tallit bag with the caption, “LOOK WHAT I JUST FOUND!!”
To be honest, I didn’t used to always pray that much. It took me years of trying to get into the swing of things. Either I’d make up an excuse not to (“I was up way too late” or “I just got home from work – I just want to relax”), but with time and diligence, I really grew to yearn for those times with HaShem. It was special quality time I got to spend with a loved one. I realize you don’t necessarily need a specific tallit or siddur to make this time special, but being wrapped in my familiar fabric and letting your brain disconnect from the world and reconnect to your own heart are just short-cuts to connecting with the Creator of the Universe. They’re like those passageways in a video game to the next level that your friends may not have caught on to yet. To me, that’s my tallit and my siddur.
If my house were to catch fire, I’d grab Shakhar (if she were there), Ramone (my cat), and then probably my tallit bag. That’s how much my time with the Kodesh Baruch Hu means to me and it’s only a miracle that this ADHD kid can have that glimmer of structure to his life. Baruch HaShem. Ooh…look…another squirrel!