Archive for April, 2013

Day 26 Counting the Omer 2013 Hod she b’Netzach

Splendor within Endurance

Hod can be conceptualized as the ’splendor of variety’. As such, it points us toward examining details, appreciating the subtleties that differentiate two almost identical things. I am reminded of how farmers understand the microclimates of their fields, how wine connoisseurs can taste a wine and know it’s ‘terroir’ (the special characteristics of geography, geology and climate of a certain place which are expressed in it’s agricultural products). When we delight in the details of variety, we can’t be bored. When we value diversity, we are more inclined to explore, examine, appreciate and accept new experiences, new people, new tastes. Increasing tolerance leads to increasing endurance; we persist in our endeavors when they are more interesting to us!

May the day bring the kind of diversity that leads to ’staying power’!

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Day 25 Counting the Omer 2013 Netzach she b’Netzach

Endurance within Endurance

That steady ‘keepin’ going’ energy that helped the Boston authorities capture the fugitive, that helped tired hospital workers who could not leave the hospital work and work and work, that allowed parents with energetic children stay in their homes all day, that…that…that.  We can all appreciate how Netzach helped Boston…but more, how Netzach energy is necessary for all our daily tasks….heroic or not, and how it accumulates as we move through the challenges of our lives.

Shabbat shalom.


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Day 24 Counting the Omer 2013 Tiferet she b’Netzach

Harmony within Endurance

It’s hard to keep going when we are out of balance.  At this morning’s exercise class, we were using ’stability balls’, large, bouncy balls we sit on while doing crunches, weights and stretches.  I thought about how essential it was to keep in balance to stay on the ball.  Today, we can think of being ‘on the ball’ in a metaphorical sense.  When we are pursuing a goal, whether long term or short, we need to keep ‘all the balls in the air’ and be ‘in the ball game’.  While I’m not usually a fan of sports metaphors, keeping the ‘harmony of the spheres’ in mind makes sense as a way to keep the world ‘going ’round’!

May the harmonious interplay of all of life’s complexities help us all endure the challenges we see around us, the ones we know we will face in the next 24 hours, and the surprises which will, inevitably, come into our life path.

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Day 23 Counting the Omer 2013 Gevurah she b’Netzach

Discernment within Endurance

Sounds rather abstract, “discernment within endurance”, but it’s really a quality most of us use daily and value highly. We pay attention today on the ability to focus on something as a way to help us accomplish whatever it is we are trying to do. Accomplishing anything, from baking a cake to writing a Ph.D. thesis, from sweeping the floor to teaching a child how to ride a bicycle, requires the quality of focused attention directed toward a goal. Today, let’s think of some larger issues as well that could us that kind of energy: seeking a new approach toward peace in the Middle East, finding the source of the bombs in Boston, enacting some sane gun control, just for a few examples. If nothing else, let’s direct our prayers in those directions today!

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Day 22 Counting the Omer 2013 Chesed she b’Netzach

Lovingkindness within Endurance

Every life requires endurance, the ability to keep going even when the going is rough, when we can’t find our way, when we wake up confused and go to bed befuddled. Sometimes just getting out of bed and finding the toothbrush seems difficult. Sometimes remembering that there are things we really enjoy and want to do seems difficult. When we are in those kind of states, for whatever reason (or for no apparent reason) what often helps us keep going is remembering love. That remembering could be of a person who cared for us many years ago, or a friend with whom we’ve lost contact, or a parent who died. It could be thinking of someone we’ve just met and found interesting, or of someone we’ve been meaning to call for a cup of coffee. Sometimes it’s remembering that we were all created in love, and that it’s kindness that keeps the evils of the world at bay. A familiar prayer says: “We are loved by an unending love”. That IS Chesed she b’Netzach…the everflowing love of the Holy Oneness that supports our endurance daily.

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Day 21 Counting the Omer 2013 Malchut/Shechina she b’Tiferet

Indwelling Presence within Harmony

Today, as we are horrified by the events in Boston, grateful for those who rushed in to care and mourning with families and friends of those dead and injured, we pause. It is hard to remember a bigger picture when faced with anguish and fear, yet, when we can, it helps us heal, each of us connected inexorably, to each other. The Indwelling Presence within the Great Harmony appears in selfless acts, in spontaneous assistance, in the rush to aid and to understand. May all who need comfort find at least some small portion of it today, remembering that we are held in the arms of the Holy One, as we end the week of Harmony and Balance.

In English, the word “Presence” can be taken so many ways–as in ‘aware’=present; as in ‘attending’ = not absent; as in ‘gift’= a present; as in ‘an additional, noticeable energy’= a presence. I was thinking, as this day of the Omer count began, of looking at the word differently: as ‘pre’ ’sense’…before sensation. G!d energy surrounds us, pervades us, dwells within us. It existed, as we are reminded in Adon Olam, before there was a before. The Divine precedes sensation…and then infuses it. It’s everywhere–Ein Od Milvado…there is nothing except this Presence. Today we pause, at the conclusion of the third week of counting the Omer, to recognize how Divinity contributes to our balance, simultaneously supporting and enlivening the beauty of our lives.

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Day 20 Counting the Omer Yesod she b’Tiferet

Foundation within Harmony

Looking for stability after days of computer, blog, website glitches. Need the steadiness to be the basis of harmony and balance….sometimes the theme of the Omer counting is so well aligned with life!

Today we focus on the relationship between creative energy/generative energy and the beautiful balance that can be created with it, through it. We become supple, flexibly responsive to whatever comes our way.

The intervening days without Omer postings are now part of our collective past! Here’s hoping that the electronic gremlins behave themselves now!!!

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Day 16 Counting of the Omer Gevurah she b’Tiferet

Discernment within Harmony

Discernment in Gevurah is based on knowing the underlying structures and disciplines upon which to make good judgments. The term ‘halacha’, Jewish law, comes from the Hebrew root “h”"l”"ch” which refers to walking, or ‘the way’. Halacha is the structure which guides decisions and allows people to live together in harmony.

In Navajo tradition, harmony is the natural, balanced state of the world. If a person is ill or if there is trouble in the community, something is assumed to be out of balance. A structured ritual ceremony known as the Blessing Way is performed to restore harmony. Gevurah provides the order that facilitates the return to the natural order of balance, harmony and beauty.

We focus today on the importance of regular practice, of developing structure in our lives which contributes to enjoying a balanced life.

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Day 15 Counting the Omer 2013 Chesed she b’Tiferet

Lovingkindness within Harmony

This third week of Counting the Omer focuses on Tiferet, the energy of harmony, balance and beauty. Tiferet is like a lens that magnifies the beauty inherent in everything, the dynamic balance that sustains everything.

Today Chesed, Lovingkindness serves as fuel for Tiferet. Imagine the flow of love as the source of balance and harmony in the world. We sense contact with God when we are in awe, encountering unexpected beauty, sweet harmony, and sudden tenderness. Just as Miriam the Prophetess gave the water of life to all who came near her, feeding their deepest needs, the flow of Chesed enters our hearts and feeds our needs, perpetuating our own fundamental and unique harmonies.

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Day 14 Counting the Omer 2013 Malchut/Shechina she b’Gevurah

Indwelling Presence within Discernment

This pair of themes conveys the fact that Holy Presence is always close to us in all our decisions, judgments and actions. All we have to do is remember! When we remember that we always have loving protection, deep insight and thoughtful guidance available, our lives can be enriched.

We are reminded today that guidelines and rules are not the same. The wise ruler and respectful leader sets up boundaries within which a number of correct decisions are possible….these are guidelines. Rules, are the other hand, are binary: either you break the rule or follow it. Today we recognize the presence of the Holy One within some religious rules (Do not murder, for example) as well as in religious guidelines (Rejoice on the festival–without specific instructions!, for example).

As we conclude the week of Gevurah, we recall the usefulness of proper discernment in all aspects of our lives.

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