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.

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.