Twenty-nine days of the Omer 5778

Today is twenty-nine days, which is four weeks and one day of the Omer. חסד שבהוד, Chesed ShebeHod, Grace / Love of Splendor / Glory.

We begin the week of Hod today. Netzach and Hod are usually described together and it can be difficult to differentiate them. Newer interpretations take these Sephirot to new places. Rabbi Simon Jacobson describes Hod as Humility. This week, I am going to focus on Prayer, a traditional aspect of Hod.

Prayer is a quirky thing. Many connect it with petition, as if all we need to do to get what we want is pray to God. Jewish prayer is more deeply connected with praise. Pausing from mundane responsibilities and praising the beauty that surrounds us, the miracle of life, the honor of living another day. This intense focus on praise is why traditional Jewish morning services start with “Verses of Praise,” including verses from psalms strung together to overflow a person with love of God.

The motive behind that section of the Shacharit service, the Jewish morning prayer service, seems to be the heart of Chesed of Hod. Honoring, Glorifying, Swimming in the Grace of God.

And yet, us mere modern mortals can have difficulty authentically accessing purest glory. Through my psalms class taught by Rabbi Miriyam Glazer, I have found the beauty and purity of reaching those glorious verses in their natural habitat. Reading a psalm from beginning to end can be the purest form of praise.

If like me, you struggle to disengage your skeptical, rational mind from this business of Splendor and Prayer, try reading Psalm 13. Its final line has a place of honor in Jewish morning prayers. But I find it more profound in its natural habitat.

Psalm 13 

To the lead player. A song. Of David.

How long, Cause of Being?!?
Will You forget me forever?
How long will You hide Your face from me?
How long will I take counsel alone?
Grief in my heart all day?
How long will my enemy loom over me?

Answer me, Cause if Being, my God!
Light up my eyes, lest I sleep death;
lest my enemy say, “I have overpowered this one!”
My foes exulting when I stumble.

But as for me,
In Your grace I trust,
My heart exults in Your rescue
Let me sing to the Cause of Being,
For She is good to me.

(My translation is based on the original Hebrew text and the English translations of Benjamin Segal, Robert Alter, Rabbi Richard Levy, and the Jewish Publication Society)

Posting in the morning because yesterday was dedicated to celebrating the birth of my Chesed, Chung-Mau Cheng. (Why yes, that is his Hebrew name.)

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