Twelve Days of Omer 5777

Today is twelve days, which is one week and five days, of the Omer. Hod of Gevurah, Humility in Discipline / Judgment / Reverence.

Humility is another virtue I am learning as an adult. There are times when I feel swimming in it (like when a fellow student calls me rabbi and I ignore him because, hi, I’m just a first-year student). When my judging brain is in action, humility is the farthest thing from me.

In secular work environments, I doubt anyone has ever considered “humble” as a fitting description for me. And yet, like many people, there is a deeply rooted feeling of being unseen / not rising high enough that distances me from humility.

The Meaningful Life Center exercise for the day is: “Before judging anyone, insure that you are doing so selflessly with no personal bias.” I’m not sure it is possible to judge without any bias. So I’m going to keep meditating on this exercise while I prepare for my first day of classes following Passover break.

Eleven Days of Omer 5777

Today is eleven days, which is one week and four days, of the Omer. Netzach in Gevurah, Endurance in Discipline.

Holding steadfast to negative judgements comes easily to me. Staying clear eyed and focused on my path is eternally difficult. Every day, I battle my Yetzer HaRa, my inclination towards destruction. I am trying hard to discipline my children by first disciplining myself – gaining control of my feelings before reacting to my precious toddlers. It doesn’t always work – sometimes, the bite of a teething toddler is too much.

May we all resolve to endure, to accept our own faults and keep moving forward toward the vision of ourselves connected to deep truth, meaning, and love. This is the endurance in discipline I strive for.

(And may my discipline endure this weekend – may I hold fast to my resolution to look without buying at the LA Times Festival of Books — except for age-appropriate kids’ books. Why yes, we do already own a treasure box of Harry Potter, Beverly Cleary, and Roald Dahl…)

Ten Days of the Omer 5777

Today is ten days, which is one week and three days of the Omer. Tiferet in Gevurah, Compassion in Discipline.

There is an inherent tension between those two words. I have trouble expressing pure compassion – selflessly accepting another on their own terms. I’m reading “Group Spiritual Direction,” by Rose Mary Dougherty, a Christian perspective on being present for another as they find their way to the Spirit within that flows through all of us.

While the theology of the book is not mine, it is helping me understand the principles behind the (required) spiritual direction class I am in. And it clarifies for me what it means to “channel and direct one’s strengths with compassion.” (Paraphrase of the Meaningful Life Center meditation for today.)

I didn’t accomplish a tenth of my agenda for the day. With compassion, I am accepting the vicissitudes of toddler time and moving forward.

Nine Days of the Omer 5777

Today is nine days, which is one week and two days of the Omer. Gevurah of Gevurah, Discipline of Discipline.

Sleep deprivation has ruined my internal discipline. And my mind races with each passing conversation on Facebook. I am on a journey to discipline my use of Facebook.

How does time vanish in your life? Are you intentional about every day’s journey? Do you keep a schedule and reflect on whether you accomplished your daily goals?

Today I will sleep more, set a realistic schedule, and stick to it. I will try to create a daily routine, and remember my children are my disciples, not my wards.

Seven Days of the Omer 5777

Today is Seven Days of the Omer, which is One Week of the counting of the Omer, Shechinah / Malchut of Chesed, Place of Dwelling / Kingdom of Lovingkindness.

May I have the courage to stand steadfast in my search for love, truth, meaning, and holiness. May I always remember to cultivate the holiness within me, so that from my inner essence I may approach other souls with love and honor.

May the indwelling of love within each of us radiate throughout our interactions. May we accept differences with compassion and may we stand firm for our core values.

Six Days of Omer 5777

Today is the sixth day of the Omer, Yesod of Chesed, Bonding in Love.

Deep bonds of affection, camaraderie, and appreciation for the unique gifts of each soul are needed to fully actualize love. I am grateful to experience these bonds in my family of origin and my family of choice.

The Meaningful Life Center published the MyOmer app, the source of the meditation that begins my counting. Chabad published the Omer Counter – I prefer their version of the blessing that is supposed to accompany the counting when done at night.

According to strict Jewish law, you cannot say the blessing if you don’t start counting on the second night of Passover without missing a day. As Rabbi Finley, says every year, the Omer Police are woefully underfunded – so engage with the tradition as you can because it is truly transformative. This is the first year I have dedicated to completing the count continuously at night and I have to say, it is helping me rediscover why I am in rabbinical school.

Day Five of the Omer 5777

Today is the fifth day of the Omer, Hod in Chesed, Humilty in Lovingkindness.

May I have the humility to lead with Chesed in all of my interactions, especially with those closest to me. May I have the strength to overcome the fractures in my character, the ingrained patterns of destructiveness. May I always humbly remember that knowledge is less important than right action.

Day Four of the Omer 5777, Netzach of Chesed

Today is the fourth day of the counting of the Omer. Netzach of Chesed, the Endurance of Love, the Triumph of Lovingkindness.

I wonder if selfless love is truly enduring. I wonder if enduring love is healthier when it respects boundaries and creates boundaries to honor the one who is loving.

In the end, love will always triumph. Before I felt comfortable expressing Jewish wisdom, I felt the truth of the musical, Les Miserables: “To love another person is to see the face of God.” May we all experience pure love, may it endure, and may we honor its triumph.

Day Three of the Omer 5777 Tiferet Shebe Chesed

Today is the third day of the Omer. Tiferet of Chesed, Harmony of Loving-kindness, Compassionate Love.

Through this sephira, we merge in perfect harmony the strict boundaries of Gevurah with the overflow of love in Chesed. Selfless Love finds itself in Tiferet of Chesed, giving though the other does not deserve our love, being of service even when our service is unnoticed.

Yesterday, I strayed far from the path of Chesed. My rhetoric focused on acknowledging only the struggles of people who walk my path and think in my logic patterns. May I always remember the souls who surround me are on their own journeys, with their own stumbling blocks. May I focus more on removing those impediments. May I always remember we each are doing our best. May I deepen my understanding of compassionate love and may I express it to everyone I meet, whether in person or online.

Two Days of the Omer 5777

Today is the second day of counting the Omer. Jewish days begin at sundown and the traditional laws require you to count and say the blessing at night, when the day begins.

I’ve often wondered about this. My guess is that it is important to set your intentions for the day before going to sleep, so your unconscious has the holiest possible thoughts to interpret. This is also why my addiction to Facebook / staring at this phone at night is so dangerous.

In any event, today is Gevurah of Chesed. The discipline required in love. If you give too freely, you will lose yourself in another person’s wants and needs. You may smother the agency of your beloved. Clear boundaries are needed to ensure we can each thrive. This is also helpful in understanding that there are natural limits to how much any other person determines the course of our life. Parents, lovers, teachers, abusers, politicians — there are boundaries between them and the essence of our loving kindness.

May we have the courage to honor and glorify the boundaries of our love today.