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.


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.

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  1. Pingback: Strength within Beauty, 16 Days Omer 5782 – Rabbi (in-training) Minster

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