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The days after Passover are referred to as sefirot, a semi-mourning period, marking a terrible plague that killed thousands of students of the great sage Rabbi Akiva. Tradition tells us that these deaths were the result of his students not being sufficiently respectful to each other.

The practice of sefirot involves the “counting of the omer.” We mark the days until this period is over. On the 33rd day, which has become known as Lag B’Omer, the students stopped dying. The day is joyful and celebrated with bonfires and festivities.

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It is human nature to be involved in a countdown mode for many of life’s passages. Children count the days to their birthdays, the end of the school year, etc. Adults often engage in counting down the days until vacation or even retirement.

As a result of this mindset, we often miss the lessons and messages and experiences of today. We fail to process what is in front of us. Instead, we anticipate what is ahead.

In our rush to anticipate the future, we often lose the ability to truly experience the present. We miss precious moments. We can’t wait until the baby will be in school, the children will be on their own, or we will finally be out of the rat race the working world. A lifetime can pass us by and we didn’t even live it.

The present is a gift. Let us unwrap it and use it wisely.

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