Tonight begins eight days of the Omer, which is one week and one day of the Omer. חסד שבגבורה, Chesed ShebeGevurah, Covenantal Love of Strength.
Entering the Week of Judgment and Discipline
Embarking on a different emanation of the Divine, which is the natural opposite and mirror image of Chesed / Covenantal Love. Gevurah connects to strength, power, judgment, and discipline. It is the power-oriented side of the tree of life, reflecting to separation. In the traditional, two-gendered understanding of humanity and the Divine, it is the feminine side of God / life.
Your rod and Your staff
One of my Hebrew teachers, Rabbi Avraham Greenstein, is a brilliant linguist with deep insight on the meaning of Jewish texts. While explaining Psalm 23, he explained the end of verse 4, “Your rod and Your staff — they comfort me.”
Rabbi Greenstein said: “A rod keeps sheep in line. God wakes us up and reminds us that there’s a better way to do things. One leans on a staff. This represents God as support.”
The rod and the staff are clear metaphors for Gevurah and Chesed: Geverah is the rod, keeping us in line, guiding us towards righteousness. Chesed is the staff, supporting us as we walk through the difficulties of life. Both are needed; both comfort us.
It is hard to stay disciplined when living through a pandemic. I certainly can’t claim to be using my time wisely. We try to stay on top of my son’s distance learning assignments. Constantly reminding myself to lean into my covenantal love. Reminding myself to accept that my six year-old cannot finish his work as quickly as he would if he was in a classroom with a real teacher and a passel of friends.
Despite my best intentions, I am exhausted every afternoon. I never feel like I have enough head space (or quiet) to do my own homework. Then, once everyone goes to sleep, I bury myself in videos to wash away the stress of another day, continuing the cycle of sleep deprivation. So yes, I am not the poster girl of discipline.
Perhaps I can be the truth telling believer in the Love of Strength. Be gentle with yourself and honor that there is strength in simply surviving this tumultuous time. Whether you have small children under foot or just the scared child within. Lean on the staff while following the rod.