Strength of Divine Presence, 44 Days Omer 4781

Today is forty-four days, which is six weeks and two days of the Omer in the year 5781. גבורה שבשכינה, Gevurah ShebeSchechinah, Strength of Divine Presence. Yesterday in Jewish time, earlier today in secular time, I had the distinct honor of hearing the thesis presentations of Erev Rav Jamie Hyams and Erev Rav Deborah Lewis. I continue to ruminate on the breadth of their presentations.

The Divine is Real… does that matter?

My meditations speak towards the Divine that holds sway over my life. Yet, it feels a bit too much like marketing to focus on convincing you that my beliefs are true. Holding yourself accountable to values and refining your interactions with other people can occur without belief.

I suppose I am saying: religion does not matter. Believing in God cannot be the end goal.

These vessels create space within me to attempt to live into my best self. I hear my kids struggle when I raise my voice. I know my best parent days are ahead of me.

Choosing Divine Presence is my way of choosing uprightness and truth. Though this is the path I choose to take, I think we can support one another regardless of how often our paths intertwine.

Strength of Divine Presence

Today I choose to greet the Heavenly Mother with prayers of gratitude. My strength and Her song will be to me salvation.

Recalling that each moment is an opportunity to be born anew, I shall circumscribe my lips.

Relish the love that surrounds me. Reach out to loved ones far away and around the corner.

I shall sink into Rabbi Abarbanel’s wise words:

כי היתה העבודה והאהבה שניים במאמר ואחד במציאות

“Because service and love are two words when you say them, but one in actuality.”

(With deep gratitude to Rabbi Avraham Greenstein’s Hebrew V class for sinking into this gorgeous text.)

Previously today…

Choosing Strong Divine Presence during a pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

The Divine Feminine Radiates Through Us, 5779 / 2019.

Mothers Reflect Divine Strength, 5778 / 2018.

Embracing The Divine, 5777 / 2017.


Image by kien virak via Pexels.

Flow of Divine Presence, 43 Days Omer 5781

Today is forty-three days, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer in the year 5781. חסד שבשכינה, Chesed ShebeShechinah. Flow of Divine Presence. May Her Presence flow through you, filling you with certainty and peace.

The cornerstone of many Jewish lives is not Emunah, Faith. We connect firmly with our people, even when our certainty in the Divine wobbles or shatters. This meditation through the Omer is my attempt to make the reality of the Divine clearly present in the vicissitudes of my life. May the Presence of The One open you to depths of your soul, as She has opened me to the possibilities of my life.

Suckling the Divine honey from the crag

Psalm translations often mute the physicality of Hebrew verbs. In Deuteronomy 32:13 the music comes alive, if we focus solely on the actual meaning of Hebrew verbs.

וַיֵּנִקֵ֤הֽוּ דְבַשׁ֙ מִסֶּ֔לַע וְשֶׁ֖מֶן מֵחַלְמִ֥ישׁ צֽוּר׃

As Robert Alter translates:

He suckled him honey from the crag

and oil from the flinty stone.

It is striking that the verb of this verse occurs in its masculine form, implying that the male God nurses. Or perhaps this is an example of the Divine Feminine being subsumed by the singular male identity. In any event, the Song of Ha’Azinu, is a gorgeous declaration of Divine grace. May we each find the strength to reach towards the depths calling us.

A book to help suckle the depths of Torah

Previously today…

The Divine Presence in a pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

The Divine Mother nourishes us all, 5779 / 2019.

Allowing the Divine Presence a place in my life, 5778 / 2018.

Seeking the Divine Light within, 5777 / 2017.


Image by David Mark via Pixabay.

Indwelling of Bonding, 42 Days of Omer 5781

Today is forty-two days, which is six weeks of the Omer in the year 5781. שכינה שביסוד Shekhinah ShebeYesod, Indwelling of Bonding. May my meditation be in honor of my teacher and friend, Yaniv Dotan. His memory will surely be a blessing and a source of deep faith and passionate conviction throughout all time and space.

Today is the marriage of all gender expressions within us. Shekhinah is the embodiment of the Divine feminine, and Yesod traditionally is the “creative” power of the masculine. Without modern biology, rabbinic Judaism assumed that the life force emanated from men, while women were seen a empty vessels. Let us move beyond simplistic, flawed understandings of biology and gender. May the breadth of possibility encapsulated in the Indwelling of Bonding connect us to the Source of Life.

Entering Mother’s Day

This seems like an ideal emanation for Mother’s Day. Recognizing that parenthood and childhood looks different for everyone. Whether you had a good relationship with your mother, or never had a mother, may this day honor the nurturing instinct in all of us. I pray we each have people and a community with whom we bond deeply and unequivocally.

May we recognize the spark of the Divine within each living thing. Let us honor our innate holiness with circumspect lips and open hearts. I pray a large smile and warm embrace envelop you today and every day.

Reverence for HaShem

Yaniv believed completely in the reality of the Divine. His faith in the Divine, and in the Hebrew Bible, was unshakeable. His certainty that our lives matter. Conviction that our depths matter far more than our physical appearance. I pray that all of Yaniv’s wisdom helps us face the future with dignity and determination.

Previously today…

Honoring our physical vessels, 5780 / 2020.

The foundation of being is ever-present, 5779 / 2019.

Sovereign bonds in life, 5778 / 2018.

Bonding with the Immanent Divine, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Kanenori via Pixabay.

Core of Foundation, 41 Days of Omer 5781

Today is forty-one days, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer in the year 5781. יסוד שביסוד, Yesod ShebeYesod. Core of Foundation. What binds you to this life? What is the foundation of your journey? Does your speech and actions reflect your soul?

Layer by layer, discovering our foundation

Just as the above picture features rice paddies on multiple levels down a mountainside, so too does my inner world contain multiple layers.

Take this forty-first day of the Omer to reflect into your own depths. What is the truth calling to you in this moment? How can you be fully present to the people around you?

Try to have one soul-nourishing conversation today. Not just transactional. Listen to the depths of your conversation partner. Remember to tell them how much you appreciate them.

May this Shabbat bring you a sense of deep understanding, soulful community, and blessed rest.

Previously today…

The Bedrock That Guides Me, 5780 / 2020.

Experiencing the Divine Within, 5779 / 2019.

Rooting Myself in Community, 5778 / 2018.

My Personality is My Foundation, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels.

Splendor of Foundation, 40 Days Omer 5781

Today is forty days, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer in the year 5781. הוד שביסוד, Hod ShebeYesod, Splendid Holiness of Foundation. Hod is the vessel of holiness, while Yesod is the foundation of personality and outward demeanor. Bringing together the energy of these two sephirot allows us the opportunity to root our actions in the depths of our souls.

The breadth of my being calls to me

It’s been a difficult week. Unexpected death forces me to confront how deeply each day is a blessing. I am struggling mightily with the forces within me that want to distract me from this pain with retail therapy. My husband often asks me why I’m in such a rush to finish school. Losing a professor and three colleagues, along with my beloved uncle, in the last few years deepens my reflections. I thought my desire To Finish was rooted in my ego’s need for validation. I cannot deny that is a part of it.

The underlying truth is that spirituality cracked me open in ways nothing else ever could. And I am anxious to help people waken to the souls within them. Simultaneously, the breadth of what I do not know, and how much I need to grow, takes my breath away. I’ve always been a voracious learner. I am grateful to find a calling that allows me to continue learning every day I am blessed with life.

Take a moment to make space for holiness today.

Ground yourself in the reality of splendor.

Appreciate your own breath.

Acknowledge the wonder of your body.

And revel in the opportunity to fully live into this day.

Previously today…

Holy vessel of grief and isolation, 5780 / 2020.

Celebrating kindergarten graduation and family, 5779 / 2019.

Blissful, total presence with one another, 5778 / 2018.

Loosening material bonds to allow Divine splendor in, 5777 / 2017.


Image via Pixabay.

Eternal Foundation, 39 Days Omer 5781

Today is thirty-nine days, which is five weeks and four days of the Omer in the year 5781. נצח שביסוד, Netzach ShebeYesod, Eternal Foundation. What keeps you rooted to your path, regardless of the adversities in life? What keystone habits help you weather every storm?

Building a bridge to the future

This week of consolidating my foundation and defining my core values weighs heavily on me. My tendency is to look at all I have not done, rather than celebrating how far I have come. And the ticking clock of mortality keeps getting louder.

Simply writing about the ideas that breathe meaning into my life is not enough. I choose holding myself accountable to transform my thoughts, feelings, speech, and action to align with these ideals. My commitment begins with journaling. As I read The Power of Habit, I recognize that consistent, daily journaling accompanied all of my most productive seasons.

Remembering Yaniv Dotan, zichrono livracha

My fellow rabbinic student, Yaniv Dotan, passed away Monday night on the 22nd of Iyyar. He kept his illness private, and most of us did not realize the depth of struggle he faced. Yaniv blessed us with a beautiful sermon at our Monday morning minyan two weeks before he passed. Guided by fellow Israeli Yeshayahu Liebowitz’s thoughts on Aharei Mot – Kedushin, he implored us with the ever-present call to holiness. Despite our obvious differences, we shared so many similarities.

Yaniv was quick to point out whatever he found wrong in a lecture or a fellow student’s comments. He had no time for his time being wasted. An engineer, logic reigned supreme. Unless he cracked open the hidden doorway to his soul, and let you know how seriously he believed in mysticism. Connecting with the Divine was Yaniv’s primary goal. He also built our community, with his incredible harmonica skills and his big smile. The world loss a true light this week. May we forever learn from Yaniv to never be complacent. Always strive towards deeper truth. Hold our teachers to high standards. And never stop learning.

Previously today…

Familial, Spiritual, and Intellectual Bonds, 5780 / 2020.

Eternally Bonding to Judaism, 5779 / 2019.

Eternal Community and Personal Responsibility 5778 / 2018.

Eternal Foundation within Family, 5777 / 2017.

Books for the Journey


Image via Pixabay.

Truthful Foundation, 38 Days Omer 5781

Today is thirty-eight days, which is five weeks and three days of the Omer in the year 5781. תִּפְאֶרֶת שביסוד, Tiferet ShebeYesod, Truthful Foundation. In this sixth week of reflecting on core values, what is the truth undergirding your life’s journey? Do you have a vision statement?

My vision statement

On Sunday, I wrote a vision statement in a class. Here it is:

My vision is to introduce Judaism as a path of ethical mysticism: working towards our best selves as a way to connect to the Soul of the Universe and the souls around us.

The pull of ethical mysticism

Honestly, it took me quite a long time to sink into this truth pursuing me. Typically, people describe Jewish ethics as the Mussar tradition. Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism. Most teachers focus on them as distinct paths, and most modern Mussar stems from cribbing Ben Franklin’s autobiography. (No, seriously.) The reality is quite different. From the beginning of Judaism, interpersonal morality intrinsically connected with cleaving to the Divine. This is why ethical mysticism is my calling.

I think about how I entered seminary eager to discover the Jewish definitions of the soul and shocked to discover (a) how elusive definition is and (b) we borrowed the concept from pagan Greeks. Ruminating into the fact that monotheism did not start from a recognition of our individual souls. Actually, we Israelites did not give much thought to individuals in the beginning. Identity was by clan and each human mattered only as part of the collective whole. During the Hellenistic Age, that time-frame after Alexander conquered the “known world,” Hebrews started to concretize individual identity and appropriate that pagan soul concept.

Interconnectedness or appropriation?

All of our foundations interconnect. As distinct as Jewish wisdom is, I am forever indebted to pagan Greeks.

I pray humility finds us. May we be ready to accept our dependence on other communities to deepen our foundations. Let us build pathways towards truth and beauty together.

WordPress tells me the words I use are too complicated. I continue to work on deconstructing complex ideas into easy language.

Books…

Previously today…

Harmonious Bonding in a Pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

Embracing my life’s purpose, 5779 / 2019.

Witnessing Rabbi Aviva Funke’s ordination, 5778 / 2018.

The truth at the heart of my journey, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Antonio López via Pixabay.

Boundaries within Foundation, 37 Days Omer 5781

Today is thirty-seven days, which is five weeks and two days of the Omer in the year 5781. גבורה שביסוד, Gevurah ShebeYesod, Boundaries within Foundation. This year, reflecting on the contours of the personality. Does it align with my highest vision for myself?

Our boundaries are misaligned with our highest potential. The mishappen gate in the picture can represent all the ways this pandemic has altered the course of lives, in ways both obvious and unknown.

Separate from ruminating on COVID-19, a personality can imprison us in bad habits, ideas, and identities. The cyncial, angry activist sees everything in the world as needing fundamental change. The consummate peacemaker can give into the whims of a tyrant until their own identity ceases to exist. Extremes in any direction lead down false paths. Flourishing occurs within the middle path, balancing all aspects of one’s personality.

This starts with a clear vision of the person you want to be. I knew the best version of myself emerged in Jewish communal prayer. I wanted to sink into that aspect of myself and moved myself, slowly, towards rabbinical school in order to better embody that aspect of me. Eleven years into this journey, I am constantly seeking further refinement. My interpersonal habits are deeply ingrained from childhood. This is why bullet journaling and the science of habits speak to me. Each year is an opportunity for me to become the best version of me I can be in this moment.

Define your vision

To understand the contours of my personality, I read about the Shadow, the Enneagram, and Neurosis. Carefully, day by day, I remind myself that who I was before does not define who I am in this moment or in the future. The grip of the story I told about myself began to loosen.

I remain a work in progress. Rather than trying to appear Perfect to my children, I admit my faults and let them know I am working to become a better parent. Just as my ability to preach is a never-completed process, so too is my ability to parent. Decide what relationships are most important to you. Clarify how you want to show up in each situation, especially the stressful ones. And hold yourself accountable to your vision.

Books for the journey

Previously today…

Boundaries during COVID-19, 5780 / 2020.

Boundaries in Bonding, 5779 / 2019.

Don’t lose yourself to the crowd, 5778 / 2018.

Discipline in interpersonal relationships, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Tim Hill via Pixabay.

Lovingkindness within Bonding, 36 Days Omer 5781

Today is thirty-six days, which is five weeks and one day of the Omer in the year 5781. חסד שביסוד, Chesed ShebeYesod, Lovingkindness within Bonding. Yesod can be described as Bonding or Foundation. The week of allowing all of the emanations of holiness to flow through me. Or the week of distracted defiance of the eternal. We each choose how to live into the week.

I choose to take the time to consolidate all of the wisdom and inspiration of the prior five weeks. This week of bonding will form a vision for my embodied experience that aligns with these supernal qualities calling me.

Transforming personality to align with values

The Sephirot describe eternal values. The stories I tell about myself can either describe a rigid personality marching through time. Or, I can emphasize the opportunities for growth in each moment. Did I face life’s challenges swimming in lovingkindness and truth? Or did I choose rigidity, judgment, and anger?

With adults, rooted in adult-level rationality, I find it easier to stay calm and open. With my children, I falter. They seem pre-programmed not to listen to basic instructions. So far, I consistently receive the following advice: stop caring whether your kid finishes his homework. For some reason, my partner and I cannot stop caring.

Nevertheless, my goal is transforming my responses to my kids away from judgment towards compassion. Perhaps I will reach my goal when they’re in their thirties.

Prayer for foundational lovingkindness

Soul of Souls, Source of Creation:

Envelop me in your Divine Flow.

Allow me the strength to be a source of lovingkindness.

Help me to reach towards my children and the world with eyes of compassion,

rooted in love.

Books

Previously today…

Covenantal Love in Personality, 5780 / 2020.

Nurturing the child within, 5779 / 2019.

Embracing full-throated love, 5778 / 2018.

Selfless love and covenantal communities, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Monika Iris via Pixabay.

Indwelling of Gratitude, 35 Days of Omer 5781

Today is thirty-five days, which is five weeks of the Omer in the year 5781. שכינה שבהוד, Shechinah ShebeHod, Indwelling of Gratitude.

Wouldn’t life be wonderful if we could dwell in the sacred knowing of our interconnectedness every moment? If the gratitude and splendor forever surrounding us infused every response? If instead of pandemic fatigue, we met each day with joyful excitement and wonder?

Magic wands wont save us. Belief in the power of gratitude alone cannot change us. Instead, we much do the painful work of walking towards change.

First, slow down long enough to observe what sets you off. Before I get angry, what is the spark? Before I started doomscrolling, was I bored? How can I offer myself a different response to each stimulus that leads to the same reward? This is the true work of spiritual transformation: recognizing that each day, we choose better and worse ways to respond to what is happening beyond us and within us.

May the Indwelling of Gratitude, marking the completion of five weeks of counting emanations of Divine overflow, help me transform my habits. May I emerge calmer and more deeply rooted within the speech and actions I wish to embody.

Previously today…

Grieving the profound loss of Dr. Bob Levy, may his righteous memory forever passionately envelop us, 5780 / 2020.

Splendor gives us life, 5779 / 2019.

Allowing Splendor to Flourish, 5778 / 2018.

Bonding with the Infinite, 5777 / 2017.

Still reading…


Image by Pixabay via Pexels.