Twenty days of the Omer 5778

Today is twenty days, which is two weeks and six days of the Omer. יסד שבתפארת / שבאמת / שברחמים. Yesod of Tiferet / Emet / Rachamim. Foundation / Bonding of Beauty / Truth / Compassion.

How is your life rooted in Compassion? Does Truth feel like a Foundation of your purpose? Are you committed to speaking truthfully and elevating conversation with a beautiful outlook?

One of the hardest lessons I have learned is that depression is a sin. I am not claiming that people with major depressive disorder are sinners. I am saying that the sub clinical choice to lean into despair and negativity is sinful. It robs your soul of light and hope. It floods the world with darkness rather than beauty.

I spent a lot of my life depressed. My Rabbi said we each need to take responsibility for our lives and if we are unhappy, we need to do the work to change our situation. That advice led me to sink inward, crack open my twisted journey, find joy, and find my calling to become a Rabbi. It wasn’t easy.

And so, today I honor all who are struggling to see the light and beauty pulsating within. I welcome you to take the first step towards mastering darkness. And I recommit myself to taking time each morning to praise God for the gift of life.

Prayer is my foundation of beauty, truth, and compassion. And I want each day to be rooted in a soulful recognition that I am merely a single body traveling towards death. May I fill each day with meaning and love.

Nineteen days of the Omer 5778

Today is nineteen days, which is two weeks and five days of the Omer. הוד שבתפארת, Hod ShebeTiferet, Glory of Beauty.

The prophetic voice is heard as glorious. The strength of Gevurah makes its way to material reality through Hod, piercing the veils of lies we cover ourselves with. How is Truth speaking to you? How will you bring Beauty to the world? Can you lean into Compassion as you make space for Truth?

There are many ways we can make space for these eternal values in the world. I am trying to focus this year on making myself a better person, using whatever wisdom I can glean from my meditation to make a tangible difference in my own life. And the days of Netzach and Hod, the pillars of the Temple, remind me how often I prioritize the cerebral over the corporeal.

I have made a commitment to myself to stop ignoring the temple I walk in every day. I am trying to practice mindful eating, to be conscious of my nervous physical habits, and to stretch my hunched over muscles on a regular basis. And perhaps in a few days or a few weeks, I will sort out how to re-introduce heart-pounding exercise into my routine.

May you find your own path to creating the Glory of Beauty. It is a struggle to remember we are each beautiful souls on unique journeys. And our souls are wrapped in amazing, beautiful bodies. Let us appreciate all we have in this world.

Eighteen days of the Omer 5778

Today is eighteen days, which is two weeks and four days of the Omer. נצח שבתפארת, Netzach ShebeTiferet, Eternity of Beauty.

How do we hold onto eternity? By building a space for it in the material world. This is a day to notice your physical surroundings. Rather than putting off the cleaning to another day because you have So Many Important Things to Do, try committing to making one corner of your world a little more beautiful.

If we are able to have the discipline to keep our physical world in order, our souls have room to breathe.

I am the last person to give cleaning advice. I am far too stuck in my head for my own good. Today, I will clean a bathroom. It has been weighing heavily on me for (I dare not say how long). Today, it will be done.

How are you bringing the eternity of beauty into your life?

Seventeen days of the Omer 5778

Today is seventeen days, which is two weeks and three days of the Omer. תפארת שבתפארת, אמת שבאמת, רחמים שברחמים. Beauty of Beauty, Truth of Truth, Compassion of Compassion.

Pure Beauty is watching my four year-old’s excitement sounding out the Hebrew words of counting the Omer. Pure Truth is knowing we thrive in community, that our pets notice when we go away, and that a pet could be the most excited family member to see you when you return. Compassion is holding space for shattered souls, mourning souls, happy souls, lonely souls. Presence without judgment.

May you sink deeply into a beautiful Truth today. May you be surrounded by compassion. And may you have the strength and grace to be a holy presence to those around you.

Sixteen Days of the Omer 5778

Today is sixteen days, which is two weeks and two days of the Omer. גבורה / דין שבתפארת/ שבאמת שברחמים. Gevurah / Din of Tiferet / Emet / Rachamim. Power / Judgement of Beauty / Truth / Compassion.

First, there is power in beauty. The truth is powerful. Compassion is strong. Own this level of power. It is not what the world normally describes as powerful. Sink into the power you have as a compassionate, truthful person.

Second, the boundaries you create around your compassion are as important as the compassion you express. Hold part of yourself for yourself. You don’t have to be an open book to be authentic. There can be different levels to your truthfulness about your essence. Protecting yourself is an important aspect of growth.

Just as we know discipline can be compassionate, so too can limiting compassion be soul nourishing for everyone involved. My kids don’t have to watch Paw Patrol all day – eventually, they get over having the TV turned off. My friends don’t need all of my time; they understand I have my own responsibilities to get to. My husband doesn’t have to be understanding of every time I forget to put the dishes in the sink, or when I’m tired and start yelling instead of talking. He too can limit his compassion and hold space for his own needs.

May you nurture your boundaries, honor your own needs, and feel the strength, Truth, and beauty of limited compassion.

Fifteen Days of the Omer 5778

Today is fifteen days, which is two weeks and one day of the Omer. חסד שבתפארת / שבאמת / שברחמים, Chesed of Tiferet / Emet, Grace of Beauty / Truth / Compassion.

The complete and unwavering love in compassion. Radical empathy, piercing to the heart of the other person, breaking some of the barriers between you. Moving towards oneness; creating an I-Thou relationship, refusing to stay within an I-It paradigm.

The grace of beauty. The transformative power of art to allow you to pierce through the veils that blind you from seeing other perspectives. The grace of epic myths that speak to the heart of the human condition. The grace of a song that speaks mountains more than prose.

The overwhelming joy from feeling Truth and living Truth. The feeling of being held by the truth that guides your life and gives you meaning.

May you be nurtured by a community that honors the grace of your truth. May you be able to meet all living things with the grace of compassion. And may you flow with the power pulsing through the grace of beauty.

Fourteen Days of the Omer 5778

Tonight will be fourteen days, which is two weeks of the Omer. Shechinah of Gevurah, Indwelling of Power.

I am posting early in hopes of staying offline for Shabbat.

Many of us have difficulty acknowledging and asserting our own power. This can take the form of not recognizing our power over the state of our life. It can mean not acknowledging the power we have to mold space, to assert space. It can mean we hold back from speaking, allowing others a greater voice.

As we welcome the Shechinah of the Divine, the Indwelling of Holiness that rushes to greet us at the beginning of Shabbat, May you take time to appreciate and honor your own holy strength.

May you feel confident in your ability to hold space for others while asserting your own presence. And may you appreciate that sometimes, you need to take space and time for yourself.

May my husband and children have a peaceful and restful Shabbat. May you all enjoy rest and moments of peace today and throughout your journeys.

Thirteen Days of Omer 5778

Today is thirteen days, which is one week and six days of the Omer. יסוד שבגבורה, Yesod of Gevurah, Foundation of Strength and Discipline.

What is the rock of your strength? How do you firmly plant your vision for yourself in your daily life? Where are there cracks in your discipline?

Other people crying and refusing to walk the line are my biggest cracks. I’m learning how to slow down and make space for toddlers who need more transition time than I’m used to. I’m learning to ride the wave of feelings rather than responding in anger. Sometimes I fall off my surfboard and revert to engrained responses.

Lack of sleep also causes cracks in my foundation of discipline.

I’ve had a crazy day that started with two hours of sleep and ended being across the country from my family, my true foundation. Chung-Mau sent me the most precious recording of our son discussing mama milk and moo moo milk.

May you have a firm foundation that includes humans as well as ideas. May you be surrounded by people who help you become the person you want to be. And may you know the joy of living deeply and intentionally. Laila Tov! Goodnight!

Twelve Days of the Omer 5778

Today is twelve days, which is one week and five days of the Omer. הוד שבגבורה, Hod ShebeGevurah, Splendor (Prophecy) of Power (and Judgment).

Hod channels the energy of בינה, Binah, Understanding, and גבורה, Strength into the material world. How beautiful it is to shine forth knowing the true path to soul expansion. How powerful it is to walk the truth and share your truth with those around you.

Give yourself permission to share your truth. Ignore people who say there are “topics to avoid in mixed company.” As long as you speak with a generosity of spirit, with a sincere desire to understand the other’s experience as deeply as you want to share your own, your words will receive a warm welcome.

I dedicated this semester to finding my Hod ShebeGevurah without realizing it. I knew I was taking homiletics to find my speaking voice, I just didn’t realize how much I would connect that to this sephira. It is scary, sometimes terrifying, to write a sermon. And it’s hard to deliver a sermon well, especially when you wish you could live up to the standards set by your own Rabbi who speaks deeply, with conviction, and without a prepared text.*

So may you push past the voices in your head and find the pure place within you that wants to be heard. I am sure when you communicate your inner self, you will find community rather than silence or indifference.

*Please come visit Rabbi Mordecai Finley at Ohr HaTorah to experience a master class in preaching. I’m there most Shabbats, though this week I’ll be at Capital Retreat Center for an inter-seminary rabbinical student retreat.

Also, יום השואה, Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, begins this evening as well. Please join me in lighting a virtual candle to honor a victim of the Holocaust.

Eleven Day of Omer 5778

Today is eleven days, which is one week and four days of the Omer, נצח שבגבורה, Netzach ShebeGevurah, Endurance of Strength.

Where does your will come from? How do you power through when everything is fighting against you? When do you decide to change course? Do you have trouble committing to one direction because of FOMO?

Today is a day to recognize that your will is powerful. And if you are easily distracted, you may not be following your soul’s desire. Tap into what brings you meaning and make a decision to honor that. Find a path to honing your will – whether that means reading a book on creating habits or reading Robert Assagioli’s The Act of Will.

The eleventh day of the Omer is about leaning into your will, your decision to follow a particular path at this time. May you be surrounded by support and know you are held by grace as you move forward on your journey.