Forty-nine days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-nine days, which is seven weeks, of the Omer. Shechinah of Shechinah, Malchut of Malchut. Indwelling of the Indwelling of the Divine. Sovereignty of the Sovereignty of the Divine.

There are two ways to look at this momentous day. What is the purest essence, the brightest light of Knowing, Goodness, Being within you? Are you connected to that pure Divine essence within? Can you feel It reaching out to you, hoping you will return to your truest essence?

Take a moment today to be still with your inner perfection. Know that making the purest essence of you sovereign in your life creates holiness that emanates throughout your interactions with the world around you.

Do you have trouble connecting with these words? Is it hard to see past the brokenness you see around you and within you? Then take time to create space for your Shadow. Today is also the dark night of the soul — you must crack open your core wound to find the vessel that can contain the revelation waiting for you.

The inner Pharoah that binds you, making it difficult for you to reach beyond the material world, makes you mock the earnestness of my posts. That is not the other, that is you. That is the Shadow you need to embrace to become whole. Dance with your shadow, embrace the darkness, and you will see that it is obscuring your spark of the Divine. God within feeds the Shadow and the Shadow nourishes your life force.

This is a blessed journey. A cycle that repeats every year. I am so blessed to be on this journey with you. I am blessed to have witnessed the ordination of rabbis and chazzans; the graduation of profound chaplains. All of them, my fellow students at the Academy of Jewish Religion, California, who today joined the ranks of alumni, are continuing the journey of being present to the souls around them and within them.

May we each be fully present to ourselves and to those around us, today and every day.

Forty-eight days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-eight days, which is six weeks and six days, of the Omer. Yesod of Shechinah / Malchut, Bonding of the Indwelling / Sovereignty of the Divine.

When a persona is created, it conceals the parts of the self that do not fit into that body. Can you see beyond your personality into your shadowy depths? What part of you do you mourn for the most? How can you start to bring it toward the light, to integrate it into your daily being?

Can you accept that your shadow will always be a part of you? Can you work with, and play with, your shadow? Is it too painful to accept all that you have repressed, all that you thought was No Good?

Your shadow has free reign within your unconscious and often speaks to you in dreams. Not remembering dreams can be a sign of holding so tightly to your perception of reality that you’re not willing to make space for irrational possibility within life.

I have lived my whole life by a code of rationality. Often, that code has led me down ugly, twisted paths. I yearn to dance with my shadow, to play within the primordial possibilities of my eternal womb.

May you be freed from the judgments of your parents, your community, and your rational mind. May you create space for the twisted, ugly, broken parts of you. May you bond with the entirety of you, the multitudes within you. May you know the freedom to explore and metabolize all of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

It is healthy to discipline one’s actions. It is unhealthy to deny what is happening within you. May you know true bonding with the spark of holiness, the broken vessel, within.

Forty-seven days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-seven days, which is six weeks and five days, of the Omer. Hod of Shechinah / Malchut, Splendor of the Indwelling / Sovereignty of the Divine.

I wrote a post last night that Facebook ate. My primary point: how do you create physical space for the spark of Goodness, the eternal flame of knowing, within? How do you ensure it is expressed in all your thoughts, feelings, and actions?

Secondarily, I spent yesterday wrestling with Rabbi Finley’s Gnostic notion of this sephira as The Shadow, Pharoah, Yetser Hara, the broken vessel, shattered aspect of the Divine. This is a very powerful aspect of inner meditation. All the parts of you that are denied in childhood are stuffed into this inner void. Everything you deny in order to form your persona lives within your shadow. That is why it is the permanently exiled princess — you can reclaim aspects of your shadow, accept those things as part of you, only to discover new depths of hidden dimensions within.

Is the inclination towards evil, towards repression, an aspect of the Divine? Or does it exist because the Divine contracted and created space for something else to be? Are these two halves of the same whole?

Binah is the supernal womb, as Shechinah is the physical womb. Our shadows live within that secret dark space within each of us that gives birth to our personas. Through Yesod, our inner essence is revealed to the world. May we always remember the splendor wrapped within the disgust that repels us from people and places that connect to our own shadow. May we never forget the generative force within our wombs.

Forty-six days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-six days, which is six weeks and four days, of the Omer. Netzach of Shechinah, Eternal Indwelling of the Divine.

I can think of no better description of Shabbat. Eternal Indwelling of the Divine.

So often, people tell me they don’t believe in God. My simple answer is “I probably don’t believe in that god either.” (Which, like many things, I learned from Rabbi Mordecai Finley.)

Let’s set aside theological debates and focus on commonality. The Good, the spark of mystery that creates consciousness, your soul — all of these thing connect you to The Cause of Being, to other humans, and to the universe. That is the Eternal Indwelling of the Divine.

And every week, like clockwork, we have another opportunity to sink into eternity. To separate ourselves from material reality and reconnect with our own souls and the souls that surround us.

This is an incredible journey. I have never made it this far in the daily mitzvah of counting the Omer. Thank you for spending part of your day reflecting with me on the depths within us. May today bring you a glimpse of the Eternal Indwelling of the Divine that calls out from your depths.

Forty-five days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-five days, which is six weeks and three days, of the Omer. Tiferet of Shechinah, Emet of Malchut. Beauty of Divine Indwelling, Truth in Sovereignty.

What is the meaning of your life? What is the core truth that drives you to seek The Good?

I’m not asking what brings you joy – or even what your core brokenness is. Though both of those things can (and should) point toward your core truth. I’m asking what is at the center of your motivation, what keeps you attached to a moral and life-affirming path? What can you return to that points toward the spark of light within you?

Transformation is part of my core truth. I want to create containers to allow as many people as possible to find the best version of themselves. I’m not talking about quitting your day job (though maybe). I’m talking about recognizing the part of you that is beyond material concerns, finding ways to connect with that part of yourself on a daily basis, and using the wisdom of your higher self to guide your actions.

This is the Judaism I wish to share with the world. Soul nourishing, ego compartmentalizing, shadow acknowledging, spirit enhancing wisdom.

May you find the core truth that motivates you and connect with it every day. This is the reason Judaism has three daily prayer services – to give people time to connect with their core truth, to elevate time beyond materiality. It breaks my heart when Jews tell me they’re turned off by prayers. I concede the ancient poetry can be difficult to connect with — especially given the many false, hyper-rationalistic English translations around us. Setting aside my desire to crack open Jewish prayer for more people — may you have time today, and everyday, to find your way beyond your ego, to a primarily spiritual level of being.

And if all else fails, meditate on the question. Prayerful meditation can open doors you never knew existed. Meditating on what it would mean if I believed HaShem guided us on our paths (one of those English mistranslations of a Jewish morning blessing) led me to rabbinical school.

Forty-three days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-three days, which is six weeks and one day, of the Omer. Chesed of Shechinah, Grace / Lovingkindess / Pure Love within the Indwelling of the Divine.

I’ll be honest – I counted the Omer last night (according to Jewish law, a day starts at sunset and the only way to say a blessing when counting the Omer is to count at night). And yet, I’m still finding it difficult to meditate for myself, let alone publicly, into this sephira. Nothing to do with the day / topic – everything to do with the sinus infection I’ve been pretending didn’t exist while I prepared for my finals.

One thing I know for sure — I need to spend more time reflecting on the inner light within, the pure grace that sparks that light, and how I can be a better vessel for the sovereignty of grace and love.

My children, my partner, the people I pass on the street — no one deserves to bear the brunt of my sickness. It is so hard to act from grace when you’re sick and your sleep is interrupted three times by a teething child. And yet, it is essential that I not let circumstances override my will to goodness.

I also recognize that I’m human and I’m never going to be perfect. This process, of discovering the eternal truths described by the sephirot, provides insight into the human condition. I am grateful for this roadmap, reminding me that the journey never ends. L’chaim! To life!

(Did you know that Chai — that ubiquitious Jewish word often found on necklaces — means “living,” not “life”? It is actually a modern amulet, warding off the evil eye / evil spirits and attaching the soul of the wearer to goodness. Though clearly, many people wear it as a simple sign of association with Judaism without knowledge of the spiritual implications of the word.)

Forty-four days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-four days, which is six weeks and two days, of the Omer. Gevurah of Shechinah / Malchut, Discipline / Strength of the Divine Indwelling / Sovereignty.

When we create strict rules and hold ourselves and others to standards that cannot be upheld, we breed rigidity, disgust, and despair.

Much of my life was ruled by lower Gevurah, by anger and resentment and a belief in the superiority of my world view. Until I was able to break free of my ego’s prison, I was not able to love purely or participate meaningfully in life.

My ego’s desire for personal perfection is a demon I battle daily. What aspect of Gevurah enslaves you? Do you fear the power of judgment / anger, preferring to avoid it entirely? Are you sure your political values are more just than alternative priorities? How do you make space for others while holding fast to your convictions?

I aspire to the sovereignty of The Good. I aspire to be a vessel for the highest version of myself, the part of me that doesn’t get angry when someone cuts me off or goes too slowly because they care more about reading their phone than driving.

I want to have the strength to hold fast to this Tree of Life. To create space for others to grow into themselves and to accept the limitations other people choose to place on their growth.

May you experience the soul expanding, life affirming beauty of becoming a disciplined vessel of sovereignty.

For a concrete example of the ego’s limitations, the movie Dr. Strange provides an immersive experience. Set aside the problematic fears of cultural appropriation that chose a white woman over an Asian lead. This is my favorite film of 2016.

Forty-two days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-two days, which is six weeks, of the Omer. Shechinah / Malchut of Yesod, Indwelling / Kingdom of Bonding.

Can you feel the spark of holiness the illuminates your personality? Do you try to cultivate your connection to your higher self, the part of you beyond the ego’s wants and needs?

This is also the combination of the sephirot most closely connected to gender and sexuality. I think about the conversations I’ve had recently about creating spiritual spaces that are welcoming to non-binary expressions of gender. Judaism, like many religions, was created within a binary framework. Our sacred language, Hebrew, is gendered. Yet, can we truly reach our full potential within binary constructions? Many people see the social construction of gender and sexuality far too constricting.

However you define your gender and sexuality, does it contribute to your feeling of holiness and wholeness? Is it a source of trauma, bliss, or an amalgamation of the two? Do you separate your experience of sexuality from spirituality? Are you able to see your body as a temple, a perfect vessel for holiness — despite all of the cultural noise about the need to improve yourself? Advertising for diets, gyms, abnormally sized models — all contribute to doubting the holiness and perfection of your body right now. Not to mention the difficulty in seeing your body as perfect if you suffer from a chronic illness, particularly a life-threatening one.

Indwelling Bonding to the Divine. It exists within your cells. You are a source of good. You are attached to The Source of Good. May you take time today to honor the sacred bond of all that you are to all that will be.

Forty-one days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty-one days, which is six weeks and six days, of the Omer. Yesod of Yesod. Bonding of Bonding.

Today is the day to face your personality. It is the reflection of all of your inner drives and higher aspirations. It is the fabric from which the world sees you and hears you.

A personality can be difficult to clearly uncover. You may think it’s ridiculous to even claim typology exists, that all that a human is, was, and will be can be sorted into different, cleanly defined hats. I definitely thought that when the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was the only system I knew (and when I seemed to be beaten over the head with it at work and by a career coach).

The Enneagram, on the other hand, speaks to me. It speaks to my possibilities, my blind spots, and my natural abilities. It is another gift I found through Rabbi Mordecai Finley.

Facing the dark side of my personality — the way people perceive me as cold, all-knowing, and impatient — is painful. A lifetime of habits is hard to break. Leaning into softness is my growth edge. Having a spiritual practice helps me disassociate with my ego’s deep wounds, its desperate desire to be validated, and its need for constant forward motion.

May all that you have uncovered thus far on our journey through the sephirot help you listen to the core of your being. May you feel the deep resonance of your unconscious. May the holiness within fill you with light and love, and the will to seek the good. Trust that you are the best version of yourself you could possibility be. And on a daily basis, you become a better version of yourself.

Forty days of the Omer 5777

Today is forty days, which is five weeks and five days, of the Omer. Hod of Yesod. Splendor of Bonding.

Rabbi Finley explains Hod as the tabernacle, priest, vessel of the prophetic word. And he teaches that Yesod is where energy becomes consciousness, your natural patterns / personality.

I think back to last Saturday and can’t believe I was across the country, welcoming in the week with a couple dozen rabbinical students from across the ideological spectrum. I think about how we are each trying to be a vessel for holy energy. I wonder if we pause enough in our studies to sink into the task ahead of us.

I think about my final presentation for my Bikur Cholim and Aveilut class (Jewish laws of visiting the sick and dying). I’ll be talking about the soul’s journey after death. I wonder if we bond too fiercely to our material possessions and material status to really penetrate the splendor of bonding. I worry we have almost lost the ability to connect to higher realms through prayer — instead relying on mindfulness meditation, as if prayer wasn’t the original mindfulness practice.

I crave more hours in the day. I hope in the coming years to learn how to be present with my family at the end of a semester. I know this year, I’ve failed. I worry about the chasm in my life — the intense bonding I feel toward my family, which is distinct from my bonding with rabbinical school. I hope to create a balance between them, even though I know there is never true balance with toddlers — only uncovering news ways to have patience.

May you feel the splendor of your personality today. May you connect with the holy sparks within and be a light for those you encounter.