Sovereignty of Divine Presence, 49 Days Omer 5782

Today is the forty-ninth day, which is seven weeks of the Omer in the year 5782. שכינה שבשכינה, Shekhinah ShebeShekhinah, Malchut ShebeMalchut, Sovereignty of Divine Presence. As we are enveloped by the Sabbath Queen, we anticipate the day after today: Shavuot, Weeks, The Day of Revelation. During this Omer, I became a rabbi. How are you called to acknowledge God? Do you bind yourself to something beyond your ego?

Iguazu Falls: Largest Waterfall Chain in the World

Over 275 individual water falls. On the border of Argentina and Brazil. This is the natural wonder I most look forward to visiting one day. Water is essential to life. The flow of water reminds us that life continues to flow, beyond heart ache, beyond horror, and beyond our individual time in this life.

Making Space for the Sovereignty of God

There is nothing that makes my heart sing more than recognizing the truth of God’s existence. These seven weeks of meditation are about how I implement godliness into the world. What are the Emanations of God that I can see refracted in this material reality? How can I make myself a better conduit of goodness? What do I need to do to be a servant of God?

Remembering Those We Have Lost

One of the kindest souls I’ve ever known, Gloria Jean Delia, left the world too soon. She knew with great certainty that one day I would be a rabbi, even before I was committed to the path. I think about a conversation we had during a late-night Shavuot study session when her delicate spirit confirmed my future for me.

I think about the wisdom and dignity of Rabbi Yaniv Dotan, z”l. And of course, of Dr. Bob Levy, of righteous memory. Ben Telushkin. Sheldon Minster. Kenny Minster. And Katie Cerullo. These are only the people whose passing have touched me deepest. I am still in search of Bar Mitzvah videos, trying to hear the voices of my grandparents one more time. The past is so elusive. Perhaps that is why time travel is an enduring fantasy.

My Prayer For the Days Ahead

Breathing fully into each day.

Committing to the future we want to create for ourselves and our communities.

Embracing eternal wisdom.

May we each reach towards El Shaddai.

May we feel embraced by the Unending Love enveloping us.

49 Days Omer Previously…

Enveloped in the Divine Presence, 5781 / 2021.

Indwelling Divine Presence in a Pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

Completion, Reflection, Expansion, 5779 / 2019.

Moving Towards a Coherent Philosophy, 5778 / 2018.

Acknowledging the Shadow Within, 5777 / 2017.

Books for the Journey

Image by José Machado via Pexels.

Foundation of Divine Presence, 48 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty-eight days, which is six weeks and six days of the Omer in the year 5782. יסוד שבשכינה. Yesod ShebeShekhinah. Foundation of Divine Presence. Am I still connected to the Creative Flow within? Or have I given up the pursuit, spellbound by doomscrolling?

Desire for Silence

There is so much about this part of the journey. Perhaps I should have written in a journal. What I know for sure is that now is not the time to “reflect” in public view. I am still in the midst of my transition. There is no reflection possible when reality feels so surreal.

This is my sixth year of public meditations into Omer counting. I wrote reflections every year of my rabbinical training. Next year, I will not write daily meditations. Instead, I am going to sort out how to continue to generate public thoughts while maintaining space for my internal journey, and supporting my congregation.

Floating On Air

I never want to take a day for granted. I want to appreciate the journey, while reveling in where I am. Sometimes, I think about the people I met along the way and wonder what they’d think about this chapter of my life. Is your life a simple through-line? Growing up, my folks had this Lincoln Perseverance Motivational Poster on our coffee table. (I doubt it cost that much 30 years ago.) I feel ready for the next chapter of my life.

Embrace the Voice in Your Head

When I read Eat, Pray, Love, I was vacationing in New York City. I hung out with myself during the day and enjoyed my friends’ company through the night. I had just quit one marketing job and was about to start the next one, where I would meet my husband. In 2013, I read Paris Letters: A Travel Memoir About Art, Writing, and Finding Love in Paris. By this time, I was having breakfast at IHOP with my husband and newborn son. Instead of reading about a random writer’s search for self, I was reading the true adventure of a woman who had been my copywriter at the first LA-based marketing job I had.

The voice in my head told me to dive into Judaism. I reminded myself that I prefer who I am within a Jewish worldview. I knew there was more to the search for meaning than world travel. The kid who attempted to read philosophical treatise about why people die needed deeper answers than can be found in art museums and church tours. So I sunk in. Now, I’ve come up for air with a new title in front of my name.

This is such a glorious time to be alive. We have the opportunity to create a brighter future for ourselves and for the world. Let’s prepare for Shabbat and Shavuot. Let’s embrace the revelation rushing towards us. Let’s begin.

Those Books Again

Previously on 48 Days…

Remembering Learning as My Foundation, 5781 / 2021.

Yearning for Wisdom, 5780 / 2020.

Removing Veils Obscuring Foundational Truth, 5779 / 2019.

Allowing Space for the Divine Presence, 5778 / 2018.

Persona and Shadow, 5777 / 2017.

Image by sebastian del val via Pexels.

Splendor of Divine Presence, 47 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty-seven days, which is six weeks and five days of the Omer in the year 5782. הוד שבשכינה, Hod ShebeShekhinah. Splendor of Divine Presence. I am surrounded by the security of God’s Presence. She envelops me with Love, Gratitude, and a thirst for community. How do you experience God?

Holding Space Beyond Ourselves

Deep community is a human need. We are fractured and splintered. Our ties were frayed before the pandemic. We cling to our phones, unable to allow ourselves to be fully present in the physical realm. World news, national news, local news overwhelm us.

May we have the strength to allow ourselves to sink into our bodies.

May our breath help us find our way to our souls.

Let our souls sing eternal wisdom into our hearts.

Let eternal wisdom guide us towards Gratitude.

A Book for This Moment

I first learned about The Secret History of Wonder Woman when Jill Lapore wrote an article for the New Yorker in 2014, combining information she gathered writing the book with info on the first Gal Gadot film. I even purchased a copy for a friend. Yet, I didn’t start reading it until this year.

There is a lot to consider about the creators of Wonder Woman and what it says about the pursuit of gender equality. The United States consistently refuses to acknowledge the cost of raising children. Nor can we agree that access to birth control and abortion are human rights issues. Those causes were central to the creation of Wonder Woman.

This is not a straight biography of any single individual. There are dozens of factoids sprinkled in its pages and the writing style does not flow as easily as some other popular historical writing. Nevertheless, once you enter into the maze of reality weaved by Lapore, you too will be hooked.

47 Days of the Omer Through Time

Journey Beyond Skepticism, 5781 / 2021.

Holding Space for the Divine in a Pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

Creating a Relationship with El Shaddai, 5779 / 2019.

Remembering God’s Glory, 5778 / 2018.

Encountering the Eternal Flame of Knowing, 5777 / 2017.

Image by sebastian del val via Pexels.

Eternal Divine Presence, 46 Days Omer 4782

Today is forty-six days, which is six weeks and four days of the Omer in the year 5782. נצח שבשכינה, Netzach ShebeShekhinah. Eternal Divine Presence. This day represents the essence of my acceptance of the yoke of the Divine. If God is the name for the Essence Beyond Description, The Cause of Being, the Oneness of Ideals — are we called to be aligned with that Oneness? Or can we ignore it and live a life of hedonism? What binds you to Love, Justice, & Truth?

The Sovereignty of Divine Presence

Traditionally, the final sefira is known as Malchut, which means kingship / sovereignty. Shekhinah is a somewhat secondary name, which connects to the Divine Presence. Shekhinah is feminine and the feminine energy of God has been mangled, distorted, and hidden for most of Jewish history. Merging these two concepts is a tikkun, a rectificaiton, in itself. I am called to be a servant of HaShem because I am aware of Her presence. Since She is here, I align myself with Her.

What Binds You? What Do You Obligate Yourself Toward?

One of the things that can leave us lost is the freedom of time. Neither my children nor I have definite plans this summer. I know what I need to accomplish and a rough timeline of how long I have to accomplish it. Since most of those tasks are not time-bound, it is up to me to balance the load.

Similarly, we can choose whether to follow The Way (Halakhah) set out by the Jewish tradition, in order to make our time count. We can choose an expansive approach to The Jewish Way and create a personally meaningful life. We can also choose Netflix and Chill as our forever ideal. Leisure time should be applauded. It’s just when our leisure time binds us to our phones and our tablets and our digital wallets, then we are not choosing to relax — we have entered a different dynamic.

Binding With Gratitude

I created a simple formula for my family’s English blessing over eating. Thank the person who made the food and thank God for creating the food. My mom made me a chocolate graduation cake. So, when eating a piece today, my son chose to say: “Thank you Bubbe for baking this cake, and thank you Mama for cutting this cake, and thank you God for bringing us this food.” I love his precision and expansiveness. We should all find a way to bind ourselves with gratitude.

Previously on 46 days of the Omer…

Jewish Wisdom is a Spiritual Salve, 5781 / 2021.

Spiritual care during a pandemic, 5780 / 2020.

Rejecting suicide, embracing Eternal Divine Presence, 5779 / 2019.

Words Create Reality, 5778 / 2018.

Breathless embrace of God and Shabbat, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels.

Beauty of Divine Presence, 45 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty-five days, which is six weeks and three days of the Omer in the year 5782. תפארת שבשכינה. Tiferet ShebeShekhinah. Beauty within Divine Presence. Before this day began, the Beit Din of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California awarded me smicha. I became a rabbi.

Words Fail Me

Throughout the day, I lost my words. And then, we processed. I came into the sanctuary with my master degree hood on and got to my seat. I could not stop crying. The ceremony continued with the awarding of master’s degrees to the chaplaincy graduates. They gave their speeches. We were called individually to the Beit Din and received a blessing. We came together, as rabbinical candidates and accepted the conditions of smicha. Then, we were proclaimed rabbis by the duly constituted rabbinical court. Next, the cantorial candidates were awarded ordination. Then, we each gave our speech. In between and after these events, there was a beautiful choir of our student peers and alumni colleagues.

Each graduate could only invite five attendees. All others had to watch on a Zoom webinar. After, I gathered with my family at my cousin’s house. Our kids swam together. She and her husband set up gorgeous decorations for me. We ate and ate and ate. We watched old home movies and I heard my grandparents’ voices for the first time in decades. It could not have been a more magical day.

Thank you to everyone who helped me reach this day.

I have floated on God’s Love all day. The Beauty of Her Presence surrounds me. And now, I’m going to sleep.

Previously on the 45th Day of the Omer…

God is with us on the journey, 5781 / 2021.

Beautiful Divine Presence, 5780 / 2020.

Truth beyond the veil, 5779 / 2019.

Holiness pulses beyond time and space, 5778 / 2018.

Finding the core truth of motivation, 5777 / 2017.

Image by Antonio López via Pixabay.

Strength of Divine Presence, 44 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty-four days, which is six weeks and two days of the Omer in the year 5782. גבורה שבשכינה, Gevurah ShebeSchechinah, Strength of Divine Presence. Today I will be ordained a rabbi. Today, I have the honor of experiencing the depth of Divine Presence and accepting the honor of dedicating my life to its constant renewal.

To Be A Rabbi

To be a rabbi is to be a Jew.

A simple Jew,

Fully committed to living a Jewish life.

To be a rabbi is to commit oneself to lifelong learning and honestly mean it.

To be a rabbi is to be a daydreamer, a learner, and a shepherd.

Amen. Selah.

Boundaries, Strength, Discernment

These are my greatest strengths. I am deeply rooted in Gevurah energy. I find it the most auspicious day to be entering the rabbinate on the 44th day of the counting of the Omer.

Previously Today….

Does it matter that the Divine is real? 5781 / 2021.

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 of Janet’s Foss by Tim Hill via Pixabay.

Covenantal Love within Divine Presence, 43 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty-three days, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer in the year 5782. חסד שבשכינה, Chesed ShebeShechinah. Covenantal Love within Divine Presence. May Her Presence flow through us, girding us for the what lies ahead. May we have the strength to be conduits of love.

Words Are Failing Me

As my ordination approaches, words are failing me. I feel like stopping. Just being. Allowing others to speak. I want to soak in every last moment before this transition, and also to be done waiting. I am overflowing with love, and breaking with anguish. When police care more about their own lives than the lives of children and schoolteachers, I am unclear what world we live in.

We Will Build This World From Love

Rabbi Menachem Creditor wrote this song. In the description box that accompanies this YouTube video of him singing it, he wrote: “I wrote this song for my daughter, born right after 9/11. This world will be built by love: ours and God’s. In the best and worst of moments, non-fundamentalist “believers” and “atheists” are reaching for the same hope using different language. Amen to both.”

El Shaddai, God of Breasts, Help Us

El Shaddai,

God of Protection,

God of Breasts,

Suckle us honey from the crag.

May we feel Your Love flow through us.

Hold us,

Nourish us,

Remind us that we are strong.

May we have the strength to do better.

Previously on the 43rd Day…

Sinking into the Flow of Divine Presence, 5781 / 2021.

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.

Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie posted on Instagram about El Shaddai.

Image via Pexels / Pixabay.

Indwelling of Bonding, 42 Days of Omer 5782

Today is forty-two days, which is six weeks of the Omer in the year 5782. שכינה שביסוד Shekhinah ShebeYesod, Indwelling of Bonding. Memorial Day Weekend is beginning. Ordination is in three days. Our Shabbat table included my parents. Everyone finished the school year — I now have a fourth grader and a first grader and no more rabbinical school assignments. I am so blessed and so grateful for everything and everyone in my life.

Shabbat Rest and Renewal

Sinking into the Flow of Time.

Allowing ourselves a Digital Sabbath.

The horror and anger and frustration and need will be there waiting tomorrow.

Choosing one full day away from the pull of doom-scrolling.

Blissful Shabbat

Snuggle up with a good book.

Take a nap.

Hug someone.

Take a walk.

Nondenominational Judaism

Perhaps the hardest part of graduating is letting go of the intellectual community at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California. I am excited that I will be living closer to one of my favorite professors, Dr. Joel Gereboff.

I am so grateful for my pluralistic and inclusive rabbinical school. We are truly colleagues with everyone at the seminary — cantors, chaplains, Master of Jewish Studies students, as well as rabbis-in-training. I am a better person and a better spiritual leader because of the people I’ve been on this journey with.

AJRCA has existed in multiple locations in the six years I have matriculated. These last 2.5 years have been the hardest, as we’ve only been on Zoom. I am grateful I will be eating dinner with many of these folks in person on Sunday (outside) and will have an in-person (though strictly limited attendance) smicha experience.

Shabbat Shalom. I don’t have much further insight on the Indwelling of Bonding. I pray we all find our way to our truest selves. So that you too can experience this overwhelming need to be quiet and just be.

My Queen, My Mother, Shekhinah showers me with Love with every breath I take.

The world is pulsing with desire for meaning. Let’s dive into the pools of wisdom today. Let’s allow ourselves time to heal and rest. Soon enough, we will start the journey towards creating a beloved future.

Previously on the 42nd Day…

Bonding with the Source of Life, 5781 / 2021.

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 sun jib via Pixabay.

Foundation: Grounded and Lifted, 41 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty-one days, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer in the year 5782. יסוד שביסוד, Yesod ShebeYesod. Core of Foundation. I choose to be rooted in my connection to God. Recognizing that Virtues / Ideals / Emanations of the Divine are eternal. Whenever I stay grounded in these truths, my life is lifted and my soul sings. How do you stay rooted?

The End and the Beginning…

There is a comfort in the “student” label. It gives you an out. It reminds people that you are still learning. Nevermind that the core value of the rabbinate is lifelong learning. Spiritual exemplar and all, people forget that clergy are human.

I think the thing I’m happiest about is that I was totally correct when I prayed into this future. This journey allows me to sink into the deepest parts of myself. Every day is a blessing. I am so grateful to be alive.

Turning Towards the Light

I spend a ridiculous amount of time reading the news. That will not be the focus of the final posts in this Omer count. For the coming days, this space will be a respite from outside forces. A place to nestle with the Creative Flow encouraging us towards our best selves.

The Jewish tradition is my rock. I lean on the staff of my ancestors. Their insights guide me into broader insights. I don’t have to throw out the tradition because it is male-focused and rigidly insular. I am incredible grateful that my people maintained the boundaries they needed in order to stay alive. Now, I have the obligation to open up their insights to wider audiences.

I hate filiopietism. I cannot gloss over the difficult parts. I’m also dedicated to reaching beyond my inclination towards criticism. Core truth awaits. Practical application and soul expansion are at stake. I still haven’t bothered getting “higher education” in order to have letters after my name. All of this is in service to my spiritual journey and the souls around me.

What grounds you? Where does the Foundation of the Universe meet the Core of Your Being?

41 Days Omer Through Different Prisms…

Consider the depths calling you, 5781 / 2021.

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 Frank Winkler via Pixabay.

Gratitude within Bonding, 40 Days Omer 5782

Today is forty days, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer in the year 5782. הוד שביסוד, Hod ShebeYesod, Gratitude within Foundation. Three years ago, I was celebrating my eldest completing kindergarten. This year, my youngest has two more days in kinder. And in four / five days (Jewish / secular time), I will be ordained. I am so grateful for my family, the foundation of my spiritual practice. What binds you to living fully into life beyond the internet?

Finding Space for Joy

The world is frightening. The fractured nature of the United States is disheartening. The death of children and teachers, along with the murder of grocery shoppers and the attack on people in church, is overwhelming. The choice to ignore the ongoing pandemic and very real threat of longterm COVID could break me.

I choose to allow space for joy. For laughter and love. I cannot be somber and serious 24/7.

The ending of “This is Us” landed differently than it would have a few weeks ago. I couldn’t help thinking of the nineteen children and two adults who lost their lives yesterday. No neat ending. No chance to linger before leaving the material world. Just alive, celebrating accomplishments in the morning and dead by 1 p.m.

Even as I declare my choice to lean into joy, reality keeps tugging at my thought train.

The Cusp of Change

In less than a week, I will be an ordained rabbi. My thoughts will turn from counting the days left in school to sorting / purging / packing my home. (More on that later.)

Anxiety surrounds me. My family is nervous. Change is hard. Letting go of friendships, embarking into the unknown. Changing schools and communities. All of this would be hard without Evil rampaging through the country.

I am so grateful that the soul of my home is portable. Wherever my family is, I am surrounded by home. May we all find the people who ground us. May we each have the space to live into ourselves. May we continue to gather. And may our collective pain lead to collective action.

May we stop sacrificing children on the altar of guns.

40 Days of the Omer Previously…

Allowing Our Souls to Awaken, 5781 / 2021.

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 by Torsten Kellermann via Pexels.