Enduring Compassion, Israel Independence Day, 18 Days Omer, Netzach ShebeRachamim

Today is eighteen days, which is two weeks and four days of the Omer, in the year 5781. נצח שברחמים, Netzach ShebeRachamim, Enduring Compassion. It is also Israel Independence Day.

It is a strange thing to be an American Jew. So much of organized Judaism is connected to Zionism, while many unaffiliated Jews are wary of claiming affinity with Israel. Plus, in many progressive circles, one is denounced and shut out for daring to proclaim oneself a Zionist. Last year, I wrote about my journey from “peace” activist to Zionist.

Just to be perfectly clear: Zionism is the “radical” notion that the Jewish people deserve self-autonomy and self-government in our historical homeland. Since Canaanites no longer exist, Jews are the original, indigenous inhabitants of Israel. I completely and without hesitation believe Jewishness is an ethnic identity as well as a religious identity. I know my people’s history well enough to appreciate the need for a safe haven in the world. Jew hatred didn’t just happen in the 1940s — as long as we’ve been around, someone has hated us. Am Yisrael Chai! The people Israel live!

Enduring Compassion

Today, I joined Comic Club. Mind you, I am not the artist in my family — my partner has actually been paid under the title “art director.” We are a victim of his success — he does not feel comfortable doing art with the kids because they feel inferior compared to his quickly knocked out sketches. So, I took one for the team and became vice president of Comic Club. I helpfully learned (in my review session with the artist in residence) that our older son has a beautiful pronounced chin, which clearly should be part of my drawings. (I already knew the younger one has a square face.) Right, so that’s all I will say about Comic Club.

Except one more thing — it was a quite brilliant hour of enduring compassion for me and the kids. Rather than another hour of anxiety that no one (including me) is getting their homework done, we just played together. I don’t have the hand strength for LEGOs, or the patience for board games, so this was truly wonderful. Whether or not Comic Club ever meets again.

Remember to have enduring compassion for yourself

I am particularly writing this for everyone who, like me, is still over-seeing distance learning: have enduring compassion for yourself. And if you are facing the reality of the brutality of white supremacy in the United States. If you are scared for yourself and/or your loved ones, I pray you feel enduring compassion surrounding you.

Compassion fatigue is real

When I reflect on days that I have gone off the rails, I realize the news and my life overwhelmed me. Leave me a voice message and expect three in return. My desire for real, tangible contact outside my sweet family is boundless.

We cannot turn away from one another. If the news outside your door overwhelms you, take a break. And never forget to return and contribute to your community’s wellbeing.

הוּא הָיָה אוֹמֵר, לֹא עָלֶיךָ הַמְּלָאכָה לִגְמֹר, וְלֹא אַתָּה בֶן חוֹרִין לִבָּטֵל מִמֶּנָּה.

He [Rabbi Tarfon] used to say, it is not upon you to complete the work, nor are you free to desist from it. Pirke Avot, 2.16

Books for the journey

Previously on this day…

Eternal Beauty While Social Distancing, 5780 / 2020.

Enduring Truth, 5779 / 2019.

Creating Beautiful Order, 5778 / 2018.

Praying for Enduring Compassion, 5777 / 2017.

Israel Independence Day is on the 5th of Iyyar, unless that day is too close to Shabbat. 5 Iyyar is Shabbat in 5781, so Yom Ha’Atzmaut is being celebrated today, on the 3rd of Iyyar. My journey to Zionism written on the 20th day of the Omer in 5780.


Image of the Tel Aviv coastline by Naya Shaw via Pexels.

Compassion within Compassion: 17 Days of Omer 5781

Today is seventeen days, which is two weeks and three days of the Omer 5781. רחמים שברחמים, Rachamim ShebeRachamim, Compassion within Compassion. It is also Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day in Israel. I find it beautiful that Israelis acknowledge those who died creating and defending their country the day before they celebrate their independence day.

The heart of compassion is knowing when you need help and knowing when your duty is to help others. Let us learn from our primate cousins in the above picture.

I do not have essential wisdom on compassion to share today. I am several days behind in sleeping and do not feel like a paradigm of compassion today. Therefore, I will reflect on the key tool I know to lean into the best version of myself.

The self-reflective art of prayer

I am my best self when I make time for prayer on a daily basis. Not just chanting the Shema as I tuck my kids in bed. Beginning the day with Shacharit, the morning prayer service, can place me within the larger context and align me with my best self. This is the self-reflective art of prayer recognized in the Hebrew word for praying, הִתְפַּלֵל, hitpallel. I am not sure what is a greater stumbling block to spirit-filled Jewish prayer: whether the length of the morning service, the relatively strict order of things, or the over-abundance of kingship metaphors. One thing is certain: you do not need to completely believe Jewish prayers to participate in their recitation. Often, the act of repeating liturgical poetry will help strip away the literal alienation and help you find your way into the metaphor.

Prayer led me to this state of becoming. I did not begin with a prayer I fully believed. I spent a Saturday morning meditating into an idea that comes early in a traditional Jewish morning service: thanking HaShem for guiding us on our life’s journey. So I posited: what if I believed HaShem was guiding me in life? What would HaShem be calling me to? I realized I was the best version of myself in synagogue. And that I wanted to live into that part of myself and help others live into the best part of themselves.

It took me six years to go from that revelatory prayer to formally beginning seminary. May the leap between revelation and action be shorter for you.

Seeking towards the Source of Compassion

Blessed Source of Compassion, Womb of the Universe, may Your compassion flow through me. May I sleep enough and eat enough to stay fully present. I pray that I am able to sink into compassion for myself, for my family, and for the world.

Books for the Journey

Previously today…

Explore the depths and limits of truth, 5780 / 2020.

Synthesizing grace and judgment, 5779 / 2019.

Sinking into beautiful truth, 5778 / 2018.

Reaching towards pure compassion, 5777 / 2017.


Image by tasveer.wala via Pexels.

Sixteen Days of the Omer, Strength within Compassion, Gevurah ShebeRachamim

Today is sixteen days, which is two weeks and two days of the Omer, in the year 5781. גבורה שברחמים. Gevurah ShebeRachamim. Strength within Compassion.

The pandemic is getting to me. I had a two week break in classes for Passover and my focus is completely non-existent. I know these meditations are primarily an internal discipline, but goodness it is tough to keep going this year. It’s not really because I’ve already written all I can possibly write on the Omer count. If I truly felt that way, there would be no hope for me in the rabbinate — after all, turning the same text around and around is kind of what we Jews do.

One of the things we do at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California is a weekday morning prayer service on Monday mornings. The format for leading this service changes every year, particularly fluctuating given the number of students enrolled. This year, I am in a team of four people and we had two services to lead, one in each semester. Today, we led our second service. That took a surprising amount of energy. Also, my Hebrew class ends at 7:30 p.m. on Monday’s.

Full Throated Compassion

I no longer want to speak about the discipline aspect of Gevurah. Yes, it is there, but flagellating over how much I fail to live up to my ascetic ideals hasn’t helped me for the last five years, so I doubt it will magically become the elixir I’ve been searching. Instead, I want to lean into strength. Really bringing out the depth and essence of the week’s primary sephira. This week, this means complete and unambiguous compassion.

I forgive myself for not bringing my best self to my family today. Accepting that I have no idea how to get an obstinate seven year-old to do his homework, I am going to remember that his therapist said I should stop worrying about it. This is just second grade. There will be plenty more years for perfect scores (or incompletes). Heck, I did not finish a single undergraduate semester on time until second semester, senior year. And my son is not me. So I need to stop projecting my own shame around my academic history onto him. Full throated compassion.

Prayer

Holy One of Blessings, suckle us honey from the crag. Hold us in Your deep embrace, reminding us that we are all Your children. Source of Compassion, allow your compassion to flow strongly into us and help us to be vessels of compassion.

Other days in this spiral…

Structure helps the soul sing, 5780 / 2020.

Find Divine truth in art, 5779 / 2019.

Boundaries creates healthy compassion, 5778 / 2018.

Honor your needs, 5777 / 2017.

Companions on the Journey towards Compassion


Image by Mike via Pexels.

15 days of the Omer, Chesed ShebeRachamim, Lovingkindness within Compassion

Today is fifteen days of the Omer, which is two weeks and 1 day in the year 5781. חסד שברחמים, Chesed ShebeRachamim, Loving-kindness within Compassion and חסד שבתפארת, Chesed ShebeTiferet, Loving-kindness within Beauty.

Our goal is to gradually rise above the noise and tumult of the world, by steady incremental steps.

Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, p3, Conscious Community: A Guide to Inner Work.

May my meditations this year help me to take steady, incremental steps towards spiritual liberation. Allow my counting of the Omer to merit healing a small fraction of the brokenness within the world.

The week of Tiferet / Rachamim

Today begins a week of focusing on a sephirah with many names: Beauty, Compassion, and Truth are the primary guideposts. Tiferet synthesizes the overflow of loving-kindness extended through Chesed with the strength and discipline of Gevurah.

Aesthetic beauty, whether in music or visual arts or theatre or movies / series: these medium pierce through the veils of the ego-self, speaking directly to the soul. Accepting the Loving-kindness of the Divine through the experience of Beauty is a deep gift. Marvel at the flowers blooming this Spring. Relish a well-told yarn. Sink into enchanting acting. Appreciate that all of these gifts reflect Divine Loving-kindness. We reach towards the infinite through art.

Have Compassion for Yourself and the World

It is easy for me to stay within lower Emet, lower Truth – my individual truth, the essence of how I perceive the world. Rather than incorporating eternal Truth into this week’s meditations, I am choosing to focus on Compassion. I choose eyes of compassion to guide me into my depths, towards deeper connections with the people around me, and towards the Light of the Divine.

May I allow Compassion to guide me towards wholeness as we begin to enter the month of Iyyar. Though today is the 30th day of Nisan, the energy of the month of Passover is giving way to the month of Healing.

אני ה” רפאך — I am The Ground of Being, your Healer. (Exodus, chapter 15, verse 26). Some say this Hebrew month, אִייָר, Iyyar, is an acronym for this Hebrew verse. When I choose to see the world through compassion, I allow the Divine Healer to walk with me in this broken world.

Another book for the journey

Ironically, for the last two weeks I did not realize I had another resource in my library for this count — Tarot and the Gates of Light by Mark Horn. We seem to be on the same wavelength because I have referenced the same soul-piercing books he mentions in my meditations. I bought the book because the New York Times did a fascinating interview with Mr. Horn. From the newspaper description, I assumed it was a guide to understanding all of the Tarot cards through a Kabbalistic lens. In reality, it is a book about counting the Omer, using the symbolism of the minor arcana (the suits of wands, cups, swords, and pentacles) to seek spiritual liberation. The book is fascinating even without a Tarot deck and its bibliography is truly a treasure-trove of modern books explicating Jewish mysticism.

Relatedly, The Jewish Planner by Gold Herring is an excellent resource for insights into the Jewish calendar. I strongly recommend purchasing the digital copy of the 5781 planner. The planner is the source for the above insight into Iyyar as an acronym.

Previously on this day…

Covenantal Love of Beauty and Truth, 5780 / 2020.

Concrete steps towards liberation, 5779 / 2019.

Graceful truth, 5778 / 2018.

Limiting distractions, 5777 / 2017.


Image by David Mark via Pixabay.

14 days of the Omer: Indwelling of Strength, Shekhinah ShebeGevurah

Tonight, we will welcome the fourteenth day, which is two weeks, of the Omer 5781. שכינה שבגבורה, Shekhinah ShebeGevurah, Indwelling of Strength.

Beyond the chatter of the ego and the inclination towards destructiveness lies the Indwelling of the Divine, שכינה, Shekhinah. She is the Divine Mother, the Constant Nurturer, the Eternal Warm Embrace. It is terrible easily to become disconnected from Shekhinah, to leave Her in exile. May we embrace her as the conduit for the flow of Divine Strength and Perseverance.

You Are Enough, I Am Enough

Far too many of my Omer meditations reflect on the ways I do not live up to my ideals. In reality, humans are not meant to be perfect. With a clear vision, moral compass, and inner purpose, the Indwelling of Strength fortifies us.

The goal of the 49 day walk from exodus to revelation is not perfection. The goal is becoming a deeper vessel of knowing. To open up our hearts and our minds to words of truth. Sinking into the Divine Flow, our ability to move comfortably in the world becomes deeper.

I am in the process of becoming a rabbi. I could reflect on the decades “lost” to other roads, while my age co-hort is emerging as “senior rabbis.” Instead, I will honor all I have learned from those experiences. From my confidence crafting the interiors of our homes (a year at the Midwest advertising office of House Beautiful magazine) to my heartbreak at the state of work in the United States (a year as a labor union organizer), my journey deepened me.

Prayer for Perseverance

May the Holy Mother shower us with strength. Let Her Immanence sustain us with spiritual healing. Please guide us on our journey towards wholeness.

Previously on this day…

The Upright Ones, the Yeshurun 5780 / 2020.

Don’t abandon your toys in the search for truth, 5779 / 2019.

Having boundaries can be generous, 5778 / 2018.

Let go of limiting narratives, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels.

Day 13 of the Omer, Foundation of Strength, Yesod ShebeGevurah

Today is thirteen days, which is one week and six days of the Omer, 5781. יסוד שבגבורה, Yesod of Gevurah, Foundation of Strength.

Dipping a toe into political topics…

This evening, I read a profound criticism of public motherhood by Amanda Montei in Vox, The problem with “mom boss” culture. It reminded me of all the political conviction I stopped speaking in my pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. To be clear, I still have political views. What I struggle with is knowing how to integrate my political perspective with my emerging spiritual leadership.

I know a lot of American Jews see their political identity as their primary connection to their Jewishness. The politicization of tikkun olam, repair the world, has left a lot of Jews convinced that their progressive savior complex will heal the world. I have meaningful relationships with people across the political spectrum. Though, to be honest, it is easier to maintain those relationships when talking in person rather than online. And therein lies the rub.

I think spiritual community should be larger than political identity. I think it is possible to pray together even when we have far different visions for the future of our country and world. There are third rails for me: understand that racism is real, white supremacy and colorism exist, and that gate-keeping Jewish spaces is problematic. The casual racism of people unfamiliar with those who are not like them is not something that should be tolerated. Don’t mistake every Asian person you meet for the last person you met. Don’t assume people aren’t Jewish because they don’t look like you. And don’t gush over the “exotic” beauty of mixed kids.

Right, so with the fundamental dignity of all humans covered, I do have a high tolerance for difference. Which is why it is taking me so many words to circle back to that article I referenced.

Parenting and Seeking Community

Online culture holds up the foundational myths of American capitalism. Whether that means bragging about how little sleep you get, or declaring yourself unrelatable because you’ve built a brand out of telling other people what to do, digital entrepreneurs thrive on selling stuff and making it look easy to have a picture-perfect life in a country without guaranteed paid time off, nevermind childcare or affordable healthcare.

I often marvel at how much we accomplish without substantive help. Especially now, as one of the millions of parents who has overseen a year of distanced learning. Yet, I’ve also had extremely dark moments when I couldn’t imagine continuing to navigate my way through this morass. I don’t actually really follow influencer parents across the web, but I have fallen hard into the rabbit hole of makeup YouTube and Instagram and knowing when every sale is happening. The silver lining for me about providing 100% of our childcare rather than paying for it is slightly less guilt about my makeup purchases…

Part of the Foundation of Strength is knowing you aren’t completely responsible for your current situation

This post rambles. Montei’s words shook me. Thus, I find it difficult to offer advice. Writing more words about finding your inner strength seems the antithesis of clear-eyed support. The reality is that reality is a mess. However this pandemic changed your life, that is real. Systemic roadblocks do not disappear with grit and determination. Acknowledging reality is imperative — both for our own growth and for the transformation of society.

I find myself wanting to quote full paragraphs from the essay. Let me give you a sentence:

They live by inspirational stories of women finding a community and a calling, of pushing through what’s tough about working motherhood, playing off the vague “moral therapeutic deism” of American capitalism and the larger gospel of Instagram.

Amanda Montei in Vox, The problem with “mom boss” culture.

I don’t want my Omer count to devolve into any of these criticisms. In the interest of full disclosure, I think I’ve made about $15 (maybe a tad more) in Amazon affiliate links based on my book recommendations. To be perfectly honest, a lot of them can be found in the library or from the used books super site, Abebooks. I know some people judge me for not transitioning to links from Bookshop, the online site connecting people to independent bookstores. I’m not perfect.

Spiral of Strength

Human connections are the foundation of strength, 5780 / 2020.

The one with an adorable photo of my kids, 5779 / 2019.

Find the rock of your strength, 5778 / 2018.

Beginning to stumble onto this path, 5777 / 2017.

Addendum: hat tip to Anne Helen Petersen

Anne Helen Petersen curates an amazing Facebook page, Celebrity Gossip, Academic Style. I found Amanda Montei’s article through the Facebook page feed.


Image by Adriaan Greyling via Pexels.

Twelve Days of Omer: Temple of Strength, Hod ShebeGevurah

Today is twelve days, which is one week and five days of the Omer in the year 5781. הוד שבגבורה, Hod ShebeGevurah, Temple of Strength; splendor within power.

My posts usually take inspiration from previous years, so this one has been hard to unravel. I wrote a brief post about Yom HaShoah earlier today. Unless the 27 of Nisan falls near Shabbat, Yom HaShoah is on that day, which is today. So, The Shoah was the focus of my posts for the last two years.

I think I did a particularly good job last year synthesizing the breadth of what I learned about The Shoah and Jew hatred from Dr. Bob Levy, may his memory forever be a blessing. Last year, I took two courses in Jewish history taught by Dr. Levy. He began in late antiquity and moved through the Middle Ages and early modern era in the Fall semester. The Spring semester covered the rest of modern history, with significant time for understanding the origin and history of Israel. The last class was going to be dedicated to wrapping up and synthesizing all that we had learned about the lachrymose history of the Jews.

Unfortunately, we never got that opportunity. Dr. Levy passed away after our penultimate class and my heart still yearns for all the conversations I never had with him. He was one of the most brilliant and passionate scholars I have ever met. I really yearned to learn more from him: to understand more fully his understanding of Jewish history and the current state of our people. Instead, I will continue to keep Jewish history books cracked open, to read during the in-between times when the texts I chose for my thesis overwhelm me.

Temple of Strength

As I’ve mentioned in previous years, Netzach and Hod are twin sephirot — they represent how prophecy enters reality. First, Netzach, the will to be in alignment with the Source of Goodness must prevail. Then, one can build a temple within and a well-ordered exterior world to make space for the Divine.

This can be a day to clear out the literal rubbish from your home. The piles of things being saved for one day that could support another’s journey. Or it can be a day to turn towards the mental detritus of living through a pandemic. Choose one action to help you grow stronger: seek out a therapist or a spiritual director. Perhaps recommit to a journaling practice as a way take ownership of your time. Read a good book or listen to brilliant music.

The clear vision ushered forth by Netzach ShebeGevurah is concretized by the physical choices we make today in Hod ShebeGevurah.

Circle of Time

Scattered thoughts earlier today on The Shoah, The Catastrophe.

The Catastrophe on the Day of Splendor of Power, 5780 / 2020.

Pillar of the Temple, 5779 / 2019.

Share Your Truth, 5778 / 2018.

Humility in Discipline, 5777 / 2017.

Books for the Journey


Image by Martin Damboldt via Pexels.

Enduring Strength, Day 11 of the Omer, Netzach ShebeGevurah

Tonight begins eleven days, which is one week and four days of the Omer in the year 5781. נצח שבגבורה, Netzach ShebeGevurah, Endurance within Strength.

What keeps you going when the waves crash over you? Is your vision clear enough to see you through the storms of life?

Choosing to live into the day

I decided to stop apologizing for not being perfect. There are many ideals in my head, including the super human I expect myself to be. This year, I choose to grow into me. The best way to weather a storm is to ride the waves.

Embodying a wave rider, I choose to lean into joy and possibilities, rather than fear and anxiety.

Approach everyone with humility and compassion

As I continue to re-read Tomer Devorah, I was halted in my tracks by the depth and beauty of the prose. Wanting to sink into the reality of its call towards goodness, I couldn’t continue reading. So, I switched to Twitter and immediately entered a tumultuous sea of vitriol.

Jewish ethical mysticism declares that emulating HaShem is the ideal. Cultivate humility and meet everyone with compassion. Somehow, we’ve lost this thread in our digital communications. Whether or not you agree with someone, ad hominem attacks separate us from the Source of Life.

Jews, social class, and unions

Specifically, Jewish Twitter blew up around a recently published interview with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Her strident tone responding to Laura Adkins’ questions offended many. Weingarten’s all-encompassing declarations about who Jews are was a grossly simplistic, socialist critique of wealthy Jews. I think she was making a statement about how vocal some Jews in Los Angeles have been in denouncing school closures while Black and Latinx union leaders have been working to support the continued health of their colleagues. Her “pointed response” was laden with outdated assumptions about the ethnic and socio-economic makeup of American Jews.

So, to be clear: I am not defending Randi Weingarten’s choice of words.

Nevertheless, as a parent in a school district that has remained in distance learning this entire school year, I am tired of the relentless attacks on teachers’ unions. I care about human life even more than I care about education. My family accepts the situation we are in this school year. We look forward to our children returning to in-person teaching in the fall. They may not always be willing to do their class work, but they most certainly have continued to learn via Zoom.

There is a larger conversation that Jewish Twitter is failing to have as it falls over itself to attack Weingarten. Many American Jews are wealthy. In Los Angeles, some Jewish parents loudly demand in-person instruction, while teachers seek to not die for the sake of a paycheck. These are the realities Weingarten spoke inelegantly about.

Imagining a future beyond vitriolic divides

Socialist screeds no longer hold any sway over me. Nor does unfettered capitalism. As the mother and wife of Chinese Jews, it would be hard for me to form a sentence that negates the existence of Jews of color.

The public discourse I envision is humble and compassionate. Believing people enter the public square with good intentions, until proven otherwise. Words can cause damage and every human is made in the image of the Divine, b’tzelem Elokim.

All Jews deserve equal access to Jewish communal spaces. Rather than pointed rhetoric, may we approach our political differences humbly and with genuine curiosity for other viewpoints. May we have the Enduring Strength to meet each other with kindness.

Books for the journey

Spiral of 11 Days of Omer

Eternal Judgment, 5780 / 2020.

Enduring Discipline: Clarifying My Vision, 5779 / 2019.

Your Will is Powerful, 5778 / 2018.

Clear-eyed Focus on My Path, 5777 / 2017.


Image by John Callery via Pexels.

Compassionate Discipline: 10 Days of the Omer 5781

Today is ten days, which is one week and three days of the Omer in the year 5781. תפארת שבגבורה , Tiferet ShebeGevurah Beauty within Strength, רחמים שבדין, Rachamim ShebeDin, Compassion within Discipline.

The root of compassion is womb. רחם, rechem, in Hebrew means womb and is the root of the word for compassion, rachamim. When we nestle into the still waters of the eternal womb, we make space for compassion and enter the world of discipline and strength with new eyes. This allows us to walk lightly through the day, radiating beautiful strength.

The gateway of the Hebrew letter hey, ה

Chapter 1, section 7 of Tomer Devorah tells a beautiful story to explain why repentant sinners stand where the perfectly righteous cannot. This classical treatise by Rabbi Moshe Cordovero is available online for free, but I have been unsatisfied with those translations. The translation and annotation by Rabbi Moshe Miller is my preferred version. The story goes that the letter looks like a porch, so that people are free to choose to go astray. The righteous stay nestled, secure on the porch of HaShem, while sinners leave through the open door.

When someone who sins choose to return to the path of goodness and truth, they struggle to change their habits and spend time repenting for their sins. This active work in returning to Goodness allows them to ascend to the higher doorway at the left side of the letter, returning at a level of ascent not achieved by those who are perfectly righteous.

The choice and opportunity to stray

This story resonates with me on so many levels. First, that the opportunity to stray from Goodness is perpetually present. Falling off the path is not the end of your story. Every choice you make can either turn you towards the porch of wholeness or take you farther down the road of brokenness. It also reminds me that though I have done many things in my life and chosen many paths, I should not regret my past.

Straying from my best vision for myself provided me with life experience to support other people’s journeys towards themselves. Plus, my appreciation for numinosity and revelation is so much deeper.

Gentle compassion while choosing the true, disciplined way

May you have compassion with yourself, with others, and with the Source of the Universe as you navigate the true, disciplined way.

Read this book

Insight on the sephirot and ethical mysticism abound in Tomer Devorah and I highly recommend it.

The spiral of today

Resting in the truth of discipline, 5780 / 2020.

Truthful discipline: Halacha, the Jewish Way, 5779 / 2019.

Inner strength and deep will, 5778 / 2018.

Compassion in discipline, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Ray Bilcliff via Pexel.

Flow within Discipline, 8 Days of the Omer, Chesed ShebeGevurah

Tonight begins eight days of the Omer, which is one week and one day of the Omer in the year 5781. חסד שבגבורה, Chesed ShebeGevurah, Flow within Discipline.

Setting Healthy Boundaries, Flourishing Within Them

Every week, I marvel at how much I learn from my children. When i get overwhelmed, I let go of my boundaries. It is easy to swim in pools of malaise, doom-scrolling or mindless hours of binging streaming television. There’s one boundary that is crystal clear for my young kids: bedtime. I don’t mean that both of them recognize this need, but without fail — the older one will fall asleep, whether in front of the television or tucked in bed.

This is the key lesson I’ve learned in my seven years of parenting: boundaries allow children to truly flourish. Having clear guidance on what is and isn’t acceptable gives one the confidence to explore and become one’s truest self.

Second Week of the Omer: Gevurah / Din: Strength, Judgment, Discipline

Rather than seeing refractions of Chesed, this week we are meditating into the counterpart sephira. She has many names, most often גבורה and דין. Last week, I allowed the Divine emanations to wash over me. Today, I begin to take responsibility for bringing their power into my actions, speech, and feelings.

I marvel at the strength within a five year-old. Determined to learn to read, he followed instructions via Zoom transitional kindergarten and began the process of unlocking knowledge. Similarly, despite preferring graphic novels with scatological foci, my seven-year old kept his own reading an adult-oriented Haggadah. Their ability to move with the Flow of pandemic living and maintain a level of discipline is truly remarkable.

Flow within Discipline: the light touch of holiness

My rigidity has always been my stumbling block. When first learning the Sephirot, I laughed and said I was Gevurah to my partner’s Chesed. Now, instead of castigating myself for not being perfect, or not living up to my highest ideals, I choose to lean into Flow.

Flowing with Divine love and kindness, I accept my own limitations with grace. I lean into the moment and set aside my anxiety about the future. I marvel at the calm completeness within simple routines, like walking the dog.

Prayer for Flow within Discipline

Holy One of Blessing, help me to live into the flow of discipline. May I remember that boundaries help me be the best version of myself. Source of Life, help me remember that refracting my judgment through loving eyes brings deeper clarity and wisdom.

The Spiral of the 8th Day of the Omer

Your rod and Your staff guide me through the pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

Contemplating martyrdom, Lori Gilbert Kaye, HaShem yikom dama, 5779 / 2019.

Discipline rooted in grace, 5778 / 2018.

The essence of discipline is love, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Máté Markovics.