Sixteen Days of the Omer 5777

Today is sixteen days, which is two weeks and two days, of the Omer. Gevurah of Tiferet / Emet. Discipline in Compassion / Truth.

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sack’s podcast today spoke about Lashon HaTov, speaking positive things about a person. I am reminded of it because being truthful can hurt a person as easily as it can help, which is where discipline comes in.

This is extremely difficult for me. My passion often gets ahead of me — I can wield rhetoric with a sharp tongue and a desire for complete domination of any disagreement. Not surprisingly, this trait has not extended my friendship circles or hastened my career advancement.

Having Discipline in Truth means being able to rise above one’s feelings, acknowledging the souls that surround you. Once you are grounded in spiritual reality, deeper truths become evident — you’ll be able to articulate the core goodness emanating from those around you and express clear-eyed love for them.

And sometimes, it is simply impossible to extricate yourself from your ego. For me, that usually means it is time to go to sleep. I may have counted the Omer last night, but I expressed very little Compassion today and I deeply regret my choices.

Today, as I tried to navigate my day without adult companions via Facebook, I gave into my exhaustion. And when I’m exhausted, I have no filter. While my 1.5 year old can’t quite articulate all that he wants, I had no patience for his cries. When my 3.5 year old didn’t respond to my instructions at bedtime, I was only interested in punishing him. Oddly, it seemed that I was determined to go against every piece of advice I read in “No-Drama Discipline.” I think the biggest lesson I learned today is that it’s okay for adults to take a nap.

Fourteen Days of Omer 5777

Today is fourteen days, which is two weeks, of the Omer. Malchut/ Shechinah of Gevurah. Nobility / Indwelling of Discipline / Strength.

The discipline we choose for ourselves and our children should lift us up. I choose an elevated path because I am a Holy Vessel – a temple for the Divine. I must work each minute to ensure my instructions to my children are rooted in honoring the holy soul within each of them. The brightness in their eyes fades when I raise my voice; I struggle daily against my Yetser HaRa.

As we acknowledge the passing of another Yom HaShoah and Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, may we never forget the 6 million Jews murdered during WWII and the 1.5 million Armenians murdered during WWI.

I find this teaching from the Lubavitcher Rebbe particularly meaningful. It is part of the insight of the day on the Chabad OmerCounter app:

“If the past was a ring of futility, let it become a wheel of yearning that drives you forward. If the past was a brick wall, let it become a dam to unleash your power.”

Twenty-five days of the Omer 5778

Today is twenty-five Days, which is three weeks and four days of the Omer. נצח שבנצח, Netzach ShebeNetzach. Eternal Endurance, Pure Will.

The essence of will is knowing the ability to accomplish your goals has always been there. Your roots are deeper than you can imagine. Your spiritual ancestors are deep within you, nourishing you, supporting you on your journey. As you grow into the person you are meant to be, your roots gain strength and help you reach inward towards the Oneness that has always been calling to you.

May you know deep in your bones your own resilience. May you touch eternity with your vision of yourself. May your will manifest today in ways you never dreamed possible.

Thirteen Days of Omer 5777

Today is thirteen days, which is one week and six days, of the Omer. Yesod of Gevurah, Bonding in Discipline / Judgement / Reverence.

Whenever I judge, a piece of me gets stuck to the judgment. This is part of the reason gossiping is an extreme sin according to Jewish law. Judging capriciously or maliciously creates a place for evil. This is also why discipline that is fear-based backfires, causing our children to listen less; loosening the bonds between us.

My commitment is to seeking the higher path of discipline, always seeking to look beyond my immediate thoughts and feelings to the reverential essence of being.

I will explain to my children why we find it so disturbing that they drink bath water and attempt to drink from the dog’s water, rather than simply yelling and punishing. I will work harder to work through my feelings and respond without raising my voice. Yes, I am only human and I forgive myself for my inconsistency. Today, this is my exercise.

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.