Twenty-four days of the Omer 5777

Today is twenty-four days, which is three weeks and three days, of the Omer. Tiferet of Netzach, Beautiful Truth of Eternity / Endurance.

It is often hard for people to admit the truth they are trying to convey. They hide their intentions, seeking out your truth before deciding whether to share their ideas. This can make it quite difficult to know how to answer the secretive person’s questions.

When you value truth through eternity, you may look back on conversations and wonder if someone took advantage of you. It’s possible that will happen. Until we all have the strength to be forthright, while knowing the appropriate limits – based on age, level of intimacy, or sundry other context clues – we must have the strength to endure the consequences of living amongst people afraid of speaking honestly.

I am reminded of Allison Sagadencky’s drash “have the foresight to be forthright and the insight to be polite.

Twenty-three days of the Omer 5777

Today is twenty-three days, which is three weeks and two days, of the Omer. Gevurah of Netzach, Discipline in Eternity.

Where does evil come from? It comes from the system of upside-down emanations that broke off from Gevurah. When discipline turns rigid and careful judgement becomes righteous indignation, you begin to glimpse the web of lies that spawned evil.

The distinction between discipline and destructiveness is particularly difficult to maintain when you’re tired. I lived through it this morning. I was brutal and totally out of control.

Every night I pray for healing – I pray that the cracks I have caused in this particular sephira can be mended and that I will feel the overwhelming abundance of holiness that surrounds us on a daily basis.

The truth is, none of my meditating matters if I forget the key to endurance: sleep.

May you have a good night’s sleep. May my son learn the joy and intense pleasure of sleeping through the night. May I break the habit of raising my voice to my children — it doesn’t work and just gives me a sore throat. May we all find healthy boundaries to guide our enduring search for wholeness.

Twenty-two days of the Omer 5777

Today is twenty-two days, which is three weeks and one day, of the Omer. Chesed of Netzach, Lovingkindness of Endurance / Eternity.

Through Endurance, we bring forth pure, selfless Love into the world — regardless of outside forces. Netzach is the emanation that guides you to endure, to hold steadfast to your goals despite all obstacles; to refrain from gossiping though you feel deeply slighted; to accept with grace the irrationality of your children whose brains are still developing and not yell or demand subservience.

Part of the process of counting the Omer and meditating on these emanations is to understand how these ideals are broken inside of you and making a plan to fix it.

May we each have the courage to endure. May the light of Love envelop us and enlighten us. May we know the core Truth guiding our lives, may we have the Discipline to determine how to build space for that Truth in our daily lives, and may we have the Endurance to embody and enact that Truth every day.

Twenty-one days of the Omer 5777

Today is twenty-one days, which are three weeks, of the Omer. Malchut / Shechinah of Tiferet / Emet. Kingdom / Indwelling of Beauty / Truth / Compassion.

I’m struck by how a week is completed in the world of action. I’m struck by the tension of the male and female energy in the words used for the “lowest” emanation, Kingdom, Nobility, Indwelling.

Shechinah is the exiled presence of the Divine, the Immanence within. She is the Mother of our souls, and like her, we are on a journey to fix the broken within ourselves and within the world.

Have you ever stopped to listen to the Truth within you? Do you hear it calling to you in your dreams? Do you push it aside, claiming you’re hearing irrational fantasies of yesteryear?

Seven years ago, I heard my Truth. It took me six years to sort out the courage and the process to fulfill my soul’s calling. My body thirsts for prayer because that is how I reach those depths within. Imagining what it would mean if I believed God guided us on our path led me to hear Her answer: immerse myself in Judaism, go to rabbinical school, and help others find their way to this transformative, healing, soul-nourishing wisdom tradition.

My hope is that we are all able to slow down and sink into ourselves. May you feel the Indwelling of Truth, the Temple of Beauty within you. May you have the courage to act on what you hear.

Twenty days of the Omer 5777

Today is twenty days, which are two weeks and six days, of the Omer. Yesod of Tiferet. Foundation of Beauty / Truth / Compassion.

Are virtues ideas that sound good when your world is calm, but disappear during times of stress? Have your rooted your knowledge in action? Are you deeply committed to creating space for Truth and Beauty in the world? Have you created Enduring Compassion?

It is so much easier to meditate on the emanations of the Divine than it is to live these truths throughout the day. Tiferet is the synthesis of love and strength, grace and discipline. Transforming one’s actions, thoughts, and feelings to be grounded in that synthesis is daily work.

This is what my teacher, Rabbi Finley, means when he speaks about creating a daily practice. We need to reflect on our lives, on the way we interact with people, on a daily basis — in order to learn from our mistakes, role play in our minds how to handle tough situations, and nurture the foundation that allows us to act from within the emanations of the Divine.

I hope to enjoy bonding compassionate truth into my interactions with everyone. Starting with my internal dialog about myself through my interactions with my partner, parenting my children, helping to lead minyan, and engaging with my fellow students and learned teachers — I will create a better foundation for beautiful truth in my life and in the world.

Nineteen days of the Omer 5777

Today is nineteen days, which are two weeks and five days, of the Omer. Hod of Tiferet / Emet / Rachamim. Splendor / Humility in Beauty / Truth / Compassion.

During Shabbat services today, Rabbi Mordecai Finley reminded me that “Tiferet” means “Beauty.” And that I have spent much more time meditating on this sephira as Truth / Beauty than I have about Compassion.

Whatever word you use to describe an emanation is ultimately synonymous with the other words used to describe it. The purest aspect of truth is beauty, pure truth is compassion and completely selfless compassion is truthful beauty.

Similarly, Hod means Splendor. (Humility is Anavah in Hebrew.) Typically, you choose one or two related definitions for a single emanation and focus on that, rather than trying to collapse seemingly opposite ideas, like humility and splendor.

Whenever I think about splendor, my mind immediately imagines sparkles. Perhaps it is the influence of my 3.5 year-old (or of the 3.5 year-old within me). When you strip away your material concerns, when you lift your head from your phone and look around at the physical world, when you close your eyes and imagine existence beyond material reality — are you struck by how elevated that Truth is? That is the Splendor I seek.

I think about the holy splendor of being in the presence of a Torah scroll, of being next to it while it is being read. I think about the holy splendor of thousands of years of Jews reading from the same scroll three times a week, the concentrated and consecrated energy that flows around, from, and toward the Torah — the splendor of deep compassion that allows us to pray for the healing of others, and the souls on the brink of the passage from this world to the next, while the Torah is out among us.

For years I have struggled to understand why prophecy is associated with splendor. I think I have finally meditated my way into understanding that truth. May we all feel the splendor of deep truth, marvel at the splendor of pure beauty, and channel the splendor of selfless compassion.

Eighteen days of the Omer 5777

Today is eighteen days, which are two weeks and four days, of the Omer. Netzach of Tiferet, Endurance of Compassion.

When you are sleep deprived and stretched past your breaking point, are you compassionate with your loved ones? Do you show compassion when people denounce your beliefs, proclaiming them to be backward and out of step with scientific “reality”? Are you compassionate to people whose beliefs are out of step with your understanding of reality?

Every night, it seems I meditate on the exact way I failed the previous day. May we all make space for the holy, starting with sleep. Shabbat shalom!

Seventeen days of the Omer 5777

Today is seventeen days, which is three weeks and three days, of the Omer. Tiferet of Tiferet; Compassion of Compassion.

Like all of the sephirot, multiple words are used to describe tiferet, including truth and beauty. Whatever word you choose, today is the day to contemplate its inner essence.

Rabbi Simon Jacobson says: “True compassion is limtless. It is not an extension of your needs and defined by your limited perspective. Compassion for another is achieved by having a selfless attitude, rising above yourself and placing yourself in the other person’s situation and experience.”

Real talk: on days when I’m with one or both of my kids all day, I have no idea how to come close to doing this. By the end of the day, I stop seeing the pure love that drives my baby to hug me All Day Long. And it gets quite difficult to feel selfless towards my spouse, who was with adults all day.*

As much as I still believe Chesed is the perfect name for my beloved, I am glad compassion of compassion is the sephira I’ll be meditating on during his birthday. He shows me every day the strength and pure beauty of selflessness.

*Not working is a work in progress for me…I know how stressful working is and I know I am negating all the ways working in advertising can be extremely stressful with that comment. I’m trying to be honest in these posts – not perfect.

Eight Days of the Omer 5777

Today is eight days, which is one week and one day of the Omer, Chesed of Gevurah, Love in Discipline.

The aspect of discipline I am least likely to exhibit. My steadfast belief in rules, order, and fairness have often led me to anger and vitriol. May I always remember that the pure essence of discipline is love. Having a clear-eyed vision of the virtues which should guide our interactions requires understanding the true freedom of a life aligned to higher values can never be fully attained. As Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Lialdi teaches in the Tanya, we are all benonim, intermediate ones – neither fully righteous nor fully wicked. As a benoni, I must always honor the sacred essence of others and judge behavior with love for my sisters and brothers. We are all flawed souls on the journey to freedom.

I struggle with these truths, and so my words are marginally coherent. I dedicate this day to deepening my ability to discipline my children with love, helping them discover their whole brains, and their innate ability to walk gently and true.

Fifteen Days of the Omer 5777

Today is fifteen days, which is two weeks and one day, of the Omer. Chesed of Tiferet / Emet. Pure Love in Compassion / Beauty / Truth.

The highest level of Truth is distinct from the whims of my ego. It is expressed through Pure Love. When we see Truth, we remark about its innate Harmony, the pure Beauty of it all. This Truth creates Compassion — understanding and being of service to others not to elevate one’s ego, but to elevate the holiness that flows through all of us.

I am deepened by my counting this year. In truth, it is the first year that I have been exact about counting each night and truly reflecting on the day’s sephira. Yet, it has also given me an excuse to delve deeper into my Facebook addiction.

So, in my pursuit of holiness and my desire to be present and compassionate to those around me, I am going to stop checking Facebook compulsively throughout the day. Hopefully, this will encourage me to begin counting as soon as the sunset allows me to. Here’s to thirty three days of visiting Facebook once a day.