Today is six days of the Omer. יסוד שבחסד, Yesod ShebeChesed, Foundation of Love.
Internal vs. External Foundation for Love
One of the hardest lessons to learn is that no human relationship is the foundation of love. A person can be your rock. A human can help you navigate the turbulence of life. But, unless you have a foundation within yourself that is sturdy enough to weather any storm — including the loss of that person; you have not built a foundation for love from higher yesod.
In human terms, the nuclear family I chose for myself — my beshert, my soulmate, and my children — are the foundation of my outward expression of love. Yet, if I don’t build a deeper foundation within myself, that human love becomes twisted. I demand too much and give too little. I start to rely on them to produce feelings within me.
No matter what anyone else is doing, making yourself a conduit for love requires a steadfast foundation. When my children are whining to indulge in snacks offered by their gentile friends during Passover, they’re not interested in knowing how long it took me to make chocolate chip cookies with matza meal. At three and five, they’re not quite old enough to understand why I keep saying no. And that’s okay. Because my love for them is rooted in my love for something bigger than any of us: knowledge that engaging with Jewish tradition nourishes our Jewish souls, supports our growth, and leads us towards the meaning we seek.
A Daily Practice: The Transformative Path
Values are illusive and transitory unless we allow them to firmly take shape in our daily lives. This is why ethical mystics recommend Cheshbon HaNefesh, the accounting of the soul. Setting aside time every day to reflect on your actions and whether they aligned with your values. Making a plan to implement better habits, one at a time, step by step. One of the original Mussar texts is The Path of the Just by Moshe Hayimm Luzzatto. An even early text is Tomer Devorah by Moshe Cordovero
Start with Breaking One Habit
Even before creating a daily practice, you can start by looking around at how you’re engaging with the world and sorting out one change that can deepen the foundation of love within you. For me, that means prioritizing sleep. May I sleep deeply and enjoy my dreams. And may you find the strength to deepen the foundation within you for love today.
Six Days of Omer 5778: Build scaffolding to support the love running through you.
Six Days of Omer 5777: Beginning to bond with the Omer