Day 31 Counting the Omer 2013 Tiferet she b’Hod

Harmony within Splendor

The multitude of individual ‘bits’ of beauty are necessary to produce overall splendor. The notes and rhythmic signatures in written music are simple instructions, yet combined and performed, a symphony results. Smiles between strangers can be meaningless by themselves, but combined, can spread joy across a room, or a city.

Today we celebrate the tiny miracles that add up in our world. When we aware of them, we can help spread their effect, contributing to a better world!

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Day 30 Counting the Omer 2013 Gevurah she b’Hod

Discernment within Splendor

Discernment is necessary when presented with a wide array of choice. I have been in New York City for the past few days, where there is an overwhelming variety of choices for just about everything! A splendid smorgasbord, but one that could result in paralysis unless it were possible to make choices. We are reminded today that we always have a wide variety of choices available, whether we are in a large city, in a small village or confined to a small, single room. It takes thoughtful, deliberate strength to analyze options and make decisions. It is important to examine any situation in small enough portions to allow us to appreciate the diversity and not be overwhelmed by it.

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Day 29 Counting the Omer 2013 Chesed she b’Hod

Lovingkindness within Splendor

Compssion sometimes is manifest in small, surprising ways.  I’m reminded of the song with the line “Hello, in there”, referring to the humanity we can see in strangers we encounter, when we remember to really SEE them.  I suppose I’m particularly aware of that tonight, since I’m in Manhattan, which I sometimes forget is so full of people!  Going for a long walk on city streets, passing a huge variety of people hurrying about their business in their busy-ness, I remember the unspoken prohibition against making eye contact with them.  A smile on the street from a stranger can have powerful impact here – is it an invitation? a come-on? should I be afraid?  What if I am the person initiating that smile? A little bit of caring, even if it’s just to move aside to allow a person in a hurry to pass me on the crowded sidewalk, can mean a lot.  The many miniature impacts of such caring multiply, a manifestation of splendor!

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Day 28 Counting the Omer 2013 Malchut/Shechina she b’Netzach

Indwelling Presence within Endurance

Today is a day to remember that the Source/the Force/the Holy Oneness is always with us, a wellspring of strength that helps us persevere through pain, anger and fear.  This past week has been overfilled with disaster and tragedy, a week where the energy of Netzach, persistence, was unfortunately necessary.  Boston Marathon bombings, terror suspects bringing a huge city to a halt, and a disastrous earthquake…and, of course, the many tragedies that make few headlines because we have become immune to the deaths due to uncontrolled guns and civil wars, to malnutrition, neglect and domestic violence.  Today, let us remember that helpers, the heroes, the survivors, all those who, fueled by compassion and morality, fight to help us recognize the humanity behind the tragedy. May we all recognize that Presence within us calls each of us to right action and gives us the energy to endure.

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Day 27 Counting the Omer 2013 Yesod she b’Netzach

Foundation within Endurance

Yesod, ‘Foundation’, is often considered the seat of the ego. When our egos are well formed and carefully tended they tend not to grow out of proportion. A healthy ego is the foundation of a charitable, kind, confident and self-reflective person. It is this kind of foundation that helps keep us grounded as we move daily, little by little, toward our goals….or, at the very least, help us navigate around the obstacles in our path!

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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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