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It’s been a beautiful start to this Spring Feast season, with the Pesach preparations and Seder in the not so distant pathway behind me… we’re now counting up toward Shavuot. I plan to be productive and faithful with my “making the days count” and so I’ll document my illuminations here. May it leave behind it a blessing!

My 5th son was just born six short weeks ago. I am a woman trying to learn how to be a mother of five, a woman trying to understand how to be a loving, supportive wife to a husband who deserves love and respect. I am a human woman being trying to feel like a person and remember who I am. I am also a maidservant of a Great King who desires to know spiritual closeness and meaning with every ritual, ceremony, tradition and foremost Commandment. Before the baby was born I had it all figured out. I’d gotten my ducks in a row and my nest was thoroughly feathered and well supplied. 2 weeks before Pesach I fell down and I fell hard. I thank God my distorted reality of what was acceptable for me as ‘therapy’ in my healing time of separation only lasted a few days. I thank God I had Godly women, counselors from both spectrums of age range to give me exactly what He needed me to have in order to “come back to myself”. Closer to the week of Pesach I slowly hit the “ground zero” area’s where the Chametz (the leavening or leavened products we remove from our dwellings before the feast- which represent anything holding us back/puffing us up/sin in our lives) is found- it was a feat! The fridge and pantry I would usually shudder to allow anyone to peek into were sparking and organized! This was all I felt I needed to do, for a while. When the Seder was just around the corner I began to feel a heaviness and guilt. I usually put so much time into the cleaning, surely I’d be exempt because I’ve just had a child recently

there’s only so much I can do. 

Limitations. The precise definition of Egypt. The place inside of me I am meant to be leaving for good. I told my friends, in retrospect, that it was as if Hashem took the contents of my hearts desire and grasped it as a prayer… it wasn’t in prayer form, it was just the thoughts of my heart. He took it and He showed me that there was indeed SO MUCH I COULD DO! So with the help of my 5 year old daughter (help given by Hashem- for her capabilities on this day far exceeded her usual strength and productivity, not to mention willingness and devotion) and my infant son (whom usually is crying nearly all day long and who, with Hashem’s gifting- on this day was a peaceful angel)… we accomplished the deep clean that I had hoped for.

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What’s the difference?

God knows it would have been ‘fine’ without the deep clean, but I would have felt distant… that guilt, that falling short…whether it was a reality or not I would have felt it. The atmosphere that is created with a neat, orderly, planned and prepared for space is part of the ‘magic’ that these appointed times hold. So, Hashem took all the desires of my heart and because they coincided, and paralleled HIS WILL for my life… it worked.

He showed me that indeed… there is SO much I can do. 

The seder was beautiful and precious, as it is with growing magnitude in my heart each year. So I will attempt to live my counting of the Omer using these photos from that night…to communicate my “findings” as I peel back the layers of this world and of my heart and expose it to the strong hand of righteous judgment of my Great King. I desire now for Him to touch it, to poke it, scrape and cut it, to mold it and form it…then to fire it permanently into the beautiful vessel He wants to make it into at this season.

The Omer is a period of counting from Pesach to Shavout. There are other entries on this blog about the Omer counting period which will explain the meaning of it more, this entry is basically a journal for this year.

[Other entries:  https://safeguardingtheeternal.wordpress.com/tag/sephirat-ha-omer/

https://safeguardingtheeternal.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/pesach-matzot-counting-on-perfection-5778/

https://safeguardingtheeternal.wordpress.com/2018/05/20/who-am-i-facing-shavuot-5778/  ]

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The sources I will mainly be using are the two following books, but I will also draw from the many sources I usually use, a complete list of sources can be found under the “My Resources” page on the Homepage of this blog.

Omer: A Counting ; By- Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar

A Spiritual Guide to The Counting of the Omer; By- Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Now more than ever, people from all walks of life are searching for meaning and purpose. Some look for answers in meditation. Some look in self- help books, therapy, religion, yoga, twelve-step programs, and New Age philosophies.

Many people, however, are unaware that the oldest– and most time tested– answer was given to us over 3,300 years ago at Mount Sinai.

*** THE TORAH *** 

Torah means instruction. The Torah and it’s stories are, in essence the story of our lives, a spiritual blueprint that illuminates intricate layers and dimensions of our psyches and souls. Every event in the Torah reflects another aspect of our inner personality.

***IN THE TORAH’S EVERY WORD THERE IS DEEP, PERSONAL & SPIRITUAL MEANING***

The process of receiving the Torah at Sinai actually began 49 days prior to its being given with the exodus from Egypt. These forty-nine days are traditionally called “Sefirat Ha’Omer,” which means the counting of the omer.

This forty-nine day period was one of intense character refinement. For forty-nine days, the Jewish people climbed one step at a time UP the emotional ladder toward a higher purity.

This period of character refinement has as much relevance to our lives today as it did over 3,000 years ago.

Just as we were slaves in Egypt, we can also be slaves to our personalities, driven by forces over which we often seem to have no control.

The forty-nine days of sefirah teach us how to regain control over our emotions, showing us how to refine our characters, step by step, in a way that is based on the eternal truths of the Torah.

7 Emotional Attributes

This day by day analysis will give you the ability to stand back and take an objective look at your subjective emotions. Seeing their strong and weak points will in turn enable you to apply yourself to the development and perfection of these feelings as you grow toward emotional and spiritual maturity.

Week 1 – Day 1 : Chesed of Chesed 

Examine the love aspect of love.

This afternoon, I am focusing in on the questions that best applied to me. 

Ask yourself-

What is my capacity to love another person? 

My capacity to love another is related to the natural and the supernatural, that is the human being bodily physical literal limitations and the spiritual health/God’s boundaries within His plan limitations. When I don’t feel physically well…I get irritable and irrational. This is my main hindrance in the capacity to love another. Otherwise, I try to practice love openly-widespread- and without condition. The spiritual limitations to my capacity to love would be when Hashem doesn’t intend to cultivate or grant growth to the love/relationship because it’s not in His plan to do so. 

How do I express love? 

I tend to love by doing things for others. Sometimes I don’t go the extra mile for quality time but rather for the quality of the atmosphere that we’ll have surrounding us that will make the limited time we have together more special. I tend to express love by attempting to orchestrate meaningful memories.

Am I afraid of my vulnerability, of opening up and getting hurt? 

I am okay with being vulnerable, I open up often and have known hurt. Despite that hurt, I still try to start with being open. 

Am I able to communicate my true feelings?  

As a writer I express a lot, as a poet I have an art form to channel my true feelings. With the written word I don’t have too much trouble communicating my true feelings YET with the spoken word… I am not as skilled. I often times do too much pre explaining or rambling off topic. I wonder how many people I have turned off because of my inability to communicate my feelings properly in words, in person. On the other hand, I wonder if I have formed any bonds through my expression in poem or writing that God used those gifts in order to do. 

Do I withhold expressing love for fear of another’s reaction? 

I try not to withhold love but I do, at times,  filter my expressions because I don’t want to offend anyone… to a fault because sometimes (in all honesty) I withhold the purest form of the truth in order to wait on another’s “place in their walk” … a place they might be better equipped to receive it… rather than just trusting Hashem and just being the vessel for transmission of said truth. In an even worse way, I have found myself premeditatedly determining my expression in order to attempt to taylor a reaction I’d like to be the outcome. I think this is manipulative, whether I mean any harm or not. 

Do I often express too much too early? 

All the time. I fall fast into relationships and have so much to ask and to share. I often hope far too soon for far too much and so give far too much at once and too soon. I think it can be off-putting and overwhelming for some. On the other hand, I think some like the deluge… because it is genuine and with the intention of connection. 

Do others misunderstand my intentions? 

My intentions are surely misunderstood, because I can lack brevity and clarity in my expressions… but I believe, I would like to believe, that the connections that are lasting and those that Hashem is continuing to grant my life are proof that enough of the love I wish to relate is being related in a way that the intentions of my heart are understood and clung to .

Whom do I love?

Do I only love those whom I relate to and relate to me? 

Honestly, I do have a tendency to love those who I can relate to in some way. Baruch Hashem- He has taken me from very humbling lowly places to some amazing heights… so I can relate to many in some small way. I try to understand why people believe or feel or perceive the way that they do… and when I don’t understand there is not lack of love. Just maybe a lack of pursuit of that relationship. Then there are times that I weep, that my soul weeps for people I have never met… continents away from me. Terror victims in Israel, Christians being slaughtered in Nigeria, unborn children who are aborted, sick sad beings who are driven to take their own lives, abused young ones… or older ones… 

Do I express love only when its comfortable? 

That’s easy, when it’s comfortable… yes I express love at this point. There is so often this voice inside that seems to beckon me: Tell her how much what she just said means to you… tell him how sorry you are… tell them everything they need to hear… sometimes it can be embarrassing, you’re vulnerable because maybe they wont feel what you’re feeling in return, maybe they won’t understand what you’re trying to say… but the times I have gone out of the comfort zone to just speak my heart- the return has been well worth it. It forges deeper bonds. 

Exercise for the day: 

Find a new way to express your love to a dear one.

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Week One –  Day Two : Gevurah of Chesed 

Healthy love must always include an element of discipline and discernment : a degree of distance and respect for the other; an assessment of another’s capacity to contain your love. Love must be tempered and directed properly.

Is my love disciplined enough?

Love and discipline so often seem NOT to go together. If you love your child, the world says, you ‘baby’ them. The bible teaches love IS discipline. 

Mishlei (Proverbs) 3;11 My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD
Or loathe His reproof, 12 For whom the LORD loves He reproves,
Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

I often am haunted by thoughts: “am I paying enough attention to my children?” “Am I showing them enough affection?” “Do they know I love them with a condition-less love?” So many times I’ve sat down with them and set out to have “a moment” and half the time they are just… being kids- they’re not paying attention, or far less connected than I am. The other half, we are engaged and these wonderful and often prayerful moments take place. I think it’s always worth the effort to try and make those moments happen. 

Even more often I wonder, ” Is the discipline outweighing the affection?” Sometimes it seems like we are non stop disciplining the children because they are calling for it by their actions and choices. I know that is something that is beyond my control (them doing what they feel like doing when they do it without much thought as to the consequences)… but sometimes it wears everyone out. 

How can I find a healthy balance? So I think about my firstborn son, I have had a plethora of opportunities on a nearly constant basis to teach and discipline him. We had one of two (that I can remember) really meaningful conversations the other night. He had a rough day (again) and after an entire evening of harsh looks, stern reactions and even more firm commands and instructions… he was sent to his room and lay down in his bed (covers over his head.) I’d had a trying day as well, working super hard to get things in order for Passover. I went into his room to sit down. I let my heart rate and anxiety settle into his undersized gliding rocker as I traced the walls with my eyes. Posters with his name and its Hebrew meaning along with many scriptures. I looked over to the quiet lump in the bed. Long story short, we talked about the things that had being going on. He opened up to me that he felt like I didn’t have any time for him since the baby had been born. Tearfully I had him explain his feelings a little more. It was a great much needed moment. I had my focus on the younger children, perhaps believing that because they were less capable of understanding the new situation and changes in the household…that they’d be adversely affected. Nope. It was my oldest son who felt estranged and left out, threatened by and disconnected from his baby brother. Things have greatly improved in their relationship since. I pray in ours as well. If there hadn’t been a healthy balance that evening… I’d never have known the pain going on right under my nose. Much less been able to address and attempt to improve it.

Am I hurting my children by forcing upon them my value system because I love them so? 

This question is as timely as the one above, for my daughter and I just had a conversation related to this. She is my eldest, and though still a preteen, she has the maturity of someone much older in years. She and I discussed the fact that : “Everyone believes that their religion is the ‘right way’ to live. Each one of us believe that our ‘truth’ is THE truth. So how can one truly judge anyone else on the religion they choose?” 

She stated that she wouldn’t ever want to eliminate anyone from her life based upon their religious choices. I agree completely. That should never be the reason to separate from someone- their choice of religion. However, I cautiously warn that there should be a notation of the fruit of their faith. If something in their lives (lives not apparent label of chosen religion) contradicts the Bible and the Teachings/Standards of Hashem for a healthy set apart life… we have to be careful. You don’t reject anyone, however… human beings are made of flesh… our flesh is porous as a sponge and we absolutely soak in everything we come into contact with. Good or bad… and we need to beware and aware of that.

Furthermore, one has to ask… when the conflict comes up: who’s truth is the TRUE truth? or who’s way is the RIGHT way?… one should attempt to get to the ROOT of the question. WHERE is the person drawing the picture of their ‘religion’ and the standards and truth’s thereof from? If it is not from the bible (the WHOLE bible) and not in the original context (historical, grammatical) as well as the original language (which means the intended meaning of the Author)… then one has the right to question its validity. This way- it’s not just a person’s viewpoint or structure… it’s God’s. It’s the Holy Word of God’s version of Truth and what is Right (or Wrong for that matter). 

So no I don’t want my children to believe what I believe just because I believe it… but I do want them to see our continual pursuit of truth based upon the actual words of the entire bible and our trust in its Author… being unchanging and meaning what He said. I want them to think it through and objectively challenge what we are doing in the way we practice our faith. I have been guilty in my “youth” as a believer and Torah walker of being pushy and extreme with the methods of teaching my children… namely the daughter I had this awesome interaction with (because she was and is my first)… but I learned a new way over time, and I myself am always learning. I am praying that something will stick with them for the rest of their lives… yes, because I love them so… but also because I know as long as I am sticking to the Torah as the primary source for all things… the truth we’re attempting to live is not based upon my own feelings, interpretations and perceptions… but rather- the word itself. 

Do I respect the one I love or is it selfish love? 

In all honesty… is there any love that isn’t at all selfish love? (Except that of the Lord for us… for there is nothing we can truly ‘give’ to Him in return). I mean, we all want something from the other person… if its a spouse you desire love in return, if that doesn’t happen… is there not a chance that the relationship will fail no matter how long you selflessly give the other person love waiting for it in return? Even us loving God… could someone actually go a lifetime living a real “love” of God without any kind of experience back from Him? On any level… nothing in return would eventually cause you to ‘give up’… wouldn’t it? I don’t mean we need proof… just reciprocation in some way. Thankfully the Lord answers everyone who calls out to Him. Its just a matter of us recognizing that reciprocation… it could be from something you go through, someone you meet, something in Creation… thankfully He is so giving and never rejects someone truly seeking to love Him. 

Do I see my loved one as an extension of myself and my needs? 

This is such a hard one for me. I often just do things projecting the other persons needs. I think I am accurate at a reasonable rate, but does that matter? If the foremost, forefront reason for doing anything for anyone…isn’t their needs coming first, then is the action worth anything? 

Rain is a Blessing only because it falls in drops that don’t flood the fields. 

Exercise for the day:

Help others on their terms…not on yours. Apply yourself to their specific needs, even if it takes effort.

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You

Week One- Day Three : Tiferet of Chesed 

Compassion, Harmony in Lovingkindness 

Compassionate love is given freely and expects nothing in return, even when the other doesn’t deserve love. 

In reality… I too don’t deserve love. I don’t deserve the compassion and limitless love that my King gives to me. So how could I withhold love from anyone? There are so many people who cross my mind that I would reach out to if I could. There are so many I would extend the hand of friendship to or olive branch of peace to make up. But the circumstances I find myself in will not allow it. 

I heard it said somewhere: The intention of the heart and the desire to fulfill a commandment… even if it is not possible in your world (the way things are)- God will accept it as if it had been accomplished it. 

I wonder if that is true with relationships… 

Can one truly pray with a pure heart for someone who has hurt you? 

Can restoration truly be desired even with the most unbalanced relationships in response to love or lack of love? 

I think… yes.  

Tiferet is giving love to those who have hurt you. 

תפארת

The word tiferet is derived from the Hebrew word פְּאֵר pe’ermeaning “beauty”.

What is more beautiful than making beautiful the pain or hurt in your heart… by assessing the pain, the person who caused the pain and where they are coming from, then… to pray for your healing and their healing… and even loftier- to love them the way Hashem does despite the fault and dishonor. 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty פְּאֵר  for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Exercise for the day: 

Offer a helping hand to a stranger. Or someone who feels like a stranger…

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Week One – Day Four : Netzach of Chesed 

Endurance in Lovingkindness 

Is my love enduring? 

Does it withstand challenges and setbacks? 

Am I willing to work on my relationships and fight for the love I have? 

Can I be counted on in the good times as well as the bad? 

Exercise for the day: 

Reassure a loved one of the constancy of your love.

Notes from my reading today from the Rambam: 

A person should dedicate all of his resources to making the world a better place or himself a better person. 

We must know our limits and ensure we are physically and emotionally healthy– for only someone fit can maximally serve God. 

Most people assume that our breathing function is a two-part rhythm of exhalation and inhalation, but this is not the case. The breathing rhythm has three components: the exhalation, a pause, and the inhalation. The pause gives us rest from the effort of the exhalation, and enables us to rally the energy needed for the next inhalation. The pause is not an idle period when nothing happens, but a vital phase in the breathing process.

If we interfere with the length of the breathing pause, shortening it even slightly, we find ourselves feeling rushed and pressured. A full-length pause in your breathing rhythm will have a calming effect and engender a feeling of relief, eradicating the sensation of being under pressure. However you should not try to make the pause willfully, as its duration must vary with your different breathing needs at different times. What you should do is to try to become aware of any ways in which you might be inhibiting the pause, thereby generating feelings of stress.

Avraham Greenbaum: Under the Table & How to Get Up

The photo below is from our Seder, we all washed hands… all except my new son, I thought- he should too. So my husband and I washed his hands together. It surely was a special moment, but I didn’t expect the photos to be so precious. Can you see that tiny sparkle of light in the first image… that reminded me of the passage by Rabbi Greenbaum. To me that little tiny, itsy, bitsy glimmer is the pause between breath’s. That little (perhaps) heavenly spark that makes a breath… a moment wondrous. 

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Week One- Day Five : Hod of Chesed 

Humility in lovingkindness 

You can often get “locked” in love, unable to forgive your loved one or bend or compromise your position. Hod introduces the aspect of humility in love; the ability to rise above yourself and forgive or give in to the one you love, just for the sake of love, even if you’re convinced that you’re right. Arrogant love is not real love. 

Explosion of truth on my heart! I pray that everyone can learn the lesson just stated, which couldn’t be truer. I have felt such a closeness to Hashem when I KNEW that I was in the right in a situation but instead chose to bow to the other… to completely nullify my pride- the ability to stand for my name- turn back from stating my case, however sound, and retreating in order to make peace or to create a canvas that some…some sweet day would be pondered by that other, looked at and really seen for what it was, a masterpiece of the truest form of love. Sticking it out even though it was hard on you… demolishing your pride and honor even though it felt like a push and pull on that fleshly tent we temporarily reside in. Prayer throughout an encounter like this and coming out of the dark tunnel of that experience… at the end, OH THE LIGHT. Its almost as if one can feel Hashem’s hand upon the small of your back gently nudging you closer to the loved one saying, “See… that is the way I do Love.” Selfless, gaining absolutely nothing for the self, enduring pain and still being able to say and MEAN- I am not going anywhere… and I still love you. 

Does love humble me? 

I am constantly humbled by my children’s love. How I can be so down right unreasonable and how easily they forgive and bounce back. They don’t know how to hold things over heads! Its amazing. That is something that must come natural and become watered down and lost in adulthood (at times). The ability to forgive and move on and almost all at the same time love continuously. 

Exercise for the day: 

Swallow your pride and reconcile with a loved one with whom you have quarreled.

 

Omer Poetry

Week One- Day Six Yesod of Chesed

Bonding in Lovingkindness 

For love to be eternal it requires bonding;

a sense of togetherness which actualizes the love with a joint effort.

Eternal love requires an intimate connection, kinship and attachment,

one that benefits both parties.

This bonding bears fruit; the fruit borne out of a healthy union.

Exercise for the day: 

Start building something constructive together with a loved one.

Unfortunately the thing we have to build today is discipline.

Exhausting, trying, draining disciplining our precious son who seems untouched. Unmoved, unswayed… with a sweet innocent core and yet dabbling in repeatedly rebellious behaviors which will, if not confronted, become terrible habits. What we’re building today is a barrier AROUND him, and our arms are linked. That part of it feels good. I think about all the times we’ve spent pouring into him as a team, side by side. I wonder if he will think about that someday when he looks back. We’ve struggled to be this team… but when it comes to faith, to hope and to Torah… our steps have never swayed from one another.

We both have tasted (not sampled, not just smelled or heard of) but consumed this truth and there is no going back now. Not from the path He’s forged in it. Our flesh will fail, our hearts might have seasons of chilly rebellion as well… but the truth remains the same, as He remains the same, as our steps remain the same. I know we’ll keep walking no matter what happens along the road.

The road right now with our boy is terrifying, looking into the future where anything is possible… its terrifying. I pray that this barrier we have made with our arms linked AROUND him will be the start of change in his heart. I like being on the same team. I pray that each one of our children will find someone to walk with in such a resolved way, that Hashem might be preparing for them mates who will uphold and furnish the foundations of walking in Torah in Yeshua… that we have laid for them.

I pray they might not stray from it. But at the very least… from this vantage point… might they find a true lasting relationship at all… in any form and not fall of the derek.

I pray also that we not fall off in the trying job it is to be a parent… and I don’t want to just scrape by…I want to be a good parent.

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Week One- Day Seven: Malchut of Chesed 

Nobility in Lovingkindness  

Mature love comes with – and brings – personal dignity, and intimate feelings of nobility and regalness. It allows you to know your special place and contribution in this world. Any love that is demoralizing and breaks the human spirit is no love at all. For love to be complete it must have the dimension of personal sovereignty, a sense of freedom and dominion over the forces that detract from total loving. 

Exercise for the day:

Highlight an aspect in your love that has bolstered your spirit and enriched your life… and celebrate!

Highlight of the evening had to be my son behaving wonderfully… helping out and ne’er ceasing to ask to help with something. Yes, maybe its a fluke but I’ll drink in the blessing as it comes. 

Another highlight, clapping hands and song of our community… little fledgling community that we’ve been cultivating for years upon years upon years and my little girl spinning and dancing, her heart and puffy skirt in the air. 

We discuss this often…”why do we do this?” we could just sleep in or keep it to ourselves… but THAT is not WHY we are here together walking in Torah. For however long people stay…or I should say, however long Hashem deigns for us to have certain loved ones remain, they will… and then, they’ll go… for whatever reason and season. 

However, we… have got to keep walking. Have got to keep our doors open… have got to keep doing what we are, and when people come we’re blessed and when people go its a blessing in the end for all involved..because He is in control. I am grateful for every moment with every person who comes into and out of our lives. 

Baruch Hashem! 

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Week Two: Gevurah

Justice, Discipline, Restraint, Awe

If love (chesed)  is the bedrock of human expression, discipline (gevurah) is the channel through which we express love. It gives our life and love direction and focus. Like a laser beam, its potency lies in the focus and concentration of light in one direction rather than fragmented light beams dispersed in all different directions. Gevurah- discipline and measure concentrates and directs our efforts, our love, in the proper directions.

Today is eight days, which are one week and one day of the Omer…

Week Two- Day One : Chesed of Gevurah 

Lovingkindness in Discipline 

Chesed of gevurah is the love in discipline; awareness of the intrinsic love that underlies discipline and judgment. It is the recognition that your personal discipline and the discipline you expect of others is only an expression of love. It is understanding that we have no right to judge others; we have a right only to love them and that includes wanting them to be at their best. 

I certainly have been living this with our son. I wonder how anyone can really grasp that there is love behind a criticism? I know I find it difficult. I believe that it has to include trust… that is, I have to trust in some way the person who is judging, chastising, criticizing and/or disciplining me.

Of course as an adult, this becomes even more difficult. If I don’t believe the person I am interacting with loves me and believes in the best in me and has as their ultimate goal my betterment and lifting me up to greater heights of capability for goodness in this world… I won’t recieve what they are telling or attempting to show me. If there is trust there… such as it is with my relationship with the Lord…there is trust there- so can I recieve the chastisement and sharpening He gives unto my life by different means and methods. When my life seems hard and harder, will I trust that He is trying to make me stronger and better able to bear up under challenging circumstances?

With my son, it is my prayer that he trusts me enough to know that I am disciplining him out of my deep love for him. I only want the best in him to be revealed… I think of the garden, sometimes… small buds, fruits or leaves (our potential) become overgrown and hidden by either weeds or heavier more mature branches and leaves on the same plant (anything in our life, obscuring the light coming in to make us healthier)… sometimes it takes the soft human touch to pull that little shoot upward, outward, facing the sunlight so that it gets that little extra help it needs to flourish (the soft coaxing of parents and friends in community). Other times that plant needs the strong human hand to yank out the weeds that might choke out the fruit bearing branch (the strong hand of a loving parent’s discipline, the tough words we may not want to hear… but are for our own good). 

Exercise for the day: 

Before you criticize someone today, think twice: Is it out of concern and love?

This is something I must SIMPLY MUST practice with my daughter. She is very sensitive to nearly every criticism given… I know sometimes I go about it the wrong way and sometimes… it could have gone without being said at all. I must be conscious if its coming from a place of love, instead of just dominance. 

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Today is nine days, which are one week and two days, of the Omer.

Week One – Day Two: Gevurah of Gevurah 

Discipline of Discipline 

Examine the discipline factor of discipline: 

Is my discipline reasonably restrained or is it excessive? 

I don’t know if restrained would be a word my children or husband would use to describe me. I don’t believe I’d use it more than 10% of the time while describing myself. I am pretty wide open with who I am and how I feel. Is it excessive… sometimes, yes. When it comes to discipline… I think I am often ‘too hard’ on my children and husband and perhaps most of all… myself. But then, when I let up and say to myself “you deserve a little break, a reward or just to check out for a little while”… I stray off course. I have a heading and when I get lazy it leads to canceling of things that are important. I can’t serve a purpose when I give in to myself (or that voice that is contrary to elevation…which says, “a little time in the world won’t hurt”). So when I fall, its devastating to me. Someone told me once, that is because I hold myself up much higher than I should…but I don’t believe that is the way my King sees me. I believe He desires me to look upon and reach up to the heights that are beyond the extension of my efforts now. Isn’t there always more to give? Its not so much that I believe I am high… its that I believe He desires to ever lift me up. With the children, I know I can be excessive in discipline but when they are given rope (much like with my own life)…they take more, then it just gets all tangled up and then they’re stuck untying knots in order to get back to where they were first setting out to do something in the first place. Perhaps I should consider… but did they find joy in making the knots? Maybe it was worth it?

Do I have enough discipline in my own life and my interactions? 

Am I organized? 

If I dwell upon being organized too long, I start to feel as if I am drowning. I have lived a life of disorder. I still remember the first conscious “closet cleaning” I did in our home. It was most definitely in more sense than just to physically clean. It was old pictures, the old me, old letters, hidden things. I remember that because slowly but surely over 12 years there’s been much progress made around here. At the same time it seems… once something gets put in order- something else gets wrecked. I often feel like I am going around and around in circles. Before Passover I had all the children’s drawers and closets completely organized and every stitch of laundry in the house was done. Now its chaos and disorder again. I keep up with the responsibility I have to launder the clothes but I have all but given up on the drawers of the other member of my family. At some point- its not in our hands anymore. I can do it for them over and over but eventually I’ll be depending on them to take care of it. And they either wont care to or know how to. So I wonder if I should try and focus on other things… like my thoughts. 

Those could use a real overhaul. Sorting, prioritizing. Part of me feels like its the same situation with thoughts as well. Once I’ve settled one thing in my mind and heart, something else comes up to launder and put in its appropriate place. I think this task will never end, and that is part of life I suppose. 

Is my time used efficiently? 

Exercise for the day: 

Make a detailed plan for spending your day and at the end of the day see if you’ve lived up to it.

Talk is cheap… our behavior is what truly defines us. Listen carefully to your speech; say only what you mean, and do everything you say. This requires you to slow down your normal pace of communicating. 

This will be perhaps my biggest challenge. I am often sarcastic, feeling the need to use this as a method of getting the attention an (often ignored) request of mine requires to be fulfilled. I make a lot of threats with stated consequences for my children, again, in order to bring attention which was not otherwise given to something I had asked be attended to. Then I don’t follow through. Sometimes I make promises for rewards that I don’t fulfill, but I pray this is on a lesser (much lesser) level of frequency. I will have to train myself not to use sarcasm. I will have to slow down a lot more and think before I speak if I am going to get out of the habit of making threats or promises. 

Ask yourself three questions before you speak: 

  1. Is it true?
  2. Is is kind? 
  3. Is it necessary? 

The obligation of a religious life: 

We must give away our time (our time is not our own anyway, it belongs to Hashem…so when its wasted, we’re stealing…when we’re devoting it to service of Him in service to others, we’re tithing), give away our money, and give away our kindness. Life is purposeful when we give- change a little corner of the world…

Can my little corner of the world be in my very own home? The heart of my child? Can it be by gathering together the community to learn or pray rather than spend time on something for myself? My own pleasure? 

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Week Two- Day Three: Tiferet of Gevurah 

Compassion in Discipline 

Compassion is unconditional love. 

It is love just for the sake of love, not considering the other’s position. Tiferet is a result of total selflessness in the eyes of G-d. You love for no reason; you love because you are a reflection of God. 

Does my discipline have this element of compassion? 

Exercise for the day:

Be compassionate to someone you have reproached.

I can’t think of that word- reproach… being a part of my feelings toward anyone. Perhaps people who harm children, how can one have compassion on such a person? I feel reproach for Muslims who spread a violent religion, a reproach a woman who would blow her pregnant self along with children up in order to kill a few policemen in the name of an evil false deity of death. That I reproach… but for these people I can still feel sadness for them, an element of compassion… because it is a trapping they are enmeshed in. Something pounded into them from birth. Women without true freedom (although this woman I spoke of made on her own a very deliberate choice)… children without their own thoughts or heart to follow. I pray for all of them to break free of these bonds of violence and death. I pray they find their way to Hashem and be enabled to walk on the dry ground, the highway to Zion to serve a God of love for once… who loves their lives and longs for them to live them with hope and happiness. No one else in my life have I reproached… over time I have forgiven and been forgiven far too much to hold onto such an emotion. Thank God, Baruch Hashem. 

Your life is a dance, defined by three small steps: 

the times you step forward,

the times you step back, 

and the times you hold your ground. 

To know when to reach and when to yield takes years of practice, years of prayer. 

To know when to be still takes even longer. 

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Today is one week and four days of the omer…

Week Two- Day Four : Netzach of Gevurah 

Endurance in Discipline 

Effective discipline must be enduring and tenacious. 

te·na·cious
/təˈnāSHəs/
adjective
  1. tending to keep a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely.
    “a tenacious grip”… firmtightfastclingingMore
    • not readily relinquishing a position, principle, or course of action; determined.
      “you’re tenacious and you get at the truth”
      synonyms: retentivegood;

      photographic
      “he had a tenacious memory”
    • persisting in existence; not easily dispelled.
      “a tenacious local legend”
      synonyms: perseveringpersistentpertinaciousdetermineddoggedsingle-mindedstrong-willedtirelessindefatigableresolutepatientpurposefuldiligentassiduoussedulousunflaggingstaunchsteadfastuntiringunwaveringunswerving, unshakeable, unyieldinguncompromisinginsistentimportunaterelentlessunrelentinginexorableimplacable;

      I like this word, tenacious. I would like to believe that a lot of what I do is tenacious : determined, persistent, adhering closely to the way of Hashem and that I tenaciously have He and His Torah in my mind and heart.

      Do I follow through with discipline? 

      I do and I don’t. I think that the situation I am in with my son is much to do with the fact that I don’t keep tenaciously to the plans for discipline we have for him when the need arises. I also have many plans for my own well being, that I have not been so tenacious regarding. There’s always an excuse with me. I was going to work out, I was not going to drink wine… but I’m so tired and there’s no time, and there’s sharp edges that need to be removed. 

      I’d like to be more tenacious. 

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    What can I do to hear better… 

    How can I make my spiritual health more predominant… 

    Teach me Lord, motivation to serve You only for the sake of serving You and show me what that means, even if it seems I am going it alone…or, send Whom You will. 

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    Exercise for the day: 

    Extend the plan you made on day two for a longer period of time, listing short-term and long-term goals. Review and update it each day, and see how consistent you are and if you follow through.

    ***

    Today is twelve days, which are one week and five days of the Omer… 

    Week Two – Day Five : Hod of Gevurah 

    Humility in Discipline 

    The results of discipline and might without humility are obvious. The greatest catastrophes have occurred as a result of people sitting in arrogant judgment of others. 

     

    Am I arrogant in the name of justice (what I consider as just)? 

I feel there is a sense of a righteous zeal in me. Of course I’d say it is righteous… you might point out… but I am in the habit of judging based not upon my own feelings and standards but that of my King. I try not to judge at all, intentionally. I know I hate the feeling of being judged. I try to practice repeated attempting to give the other the benefit of the doubt… often to a fault (where I get hurt). In reality… do we not all make judgment calls… all day long? Aren’t judgments a part of making choices and decisions? Is evaluation and judgment the same thing?

A judge has to be the most humble of creatures, recognizing that he sits in judgment, not by his own merit, but only because God gave him the right to judge his children. 

I remember someone once told me, in regards to care of my children: Remember to think of it like this, they are children of the King. Imagine how you would speak to them and treat them if they were under your care, say if you were the governess of the Royal Family. You wouldn’t dare raise your voice to them,etc. How much more so for the sons and daughters of the King of Kings. 

I have felt burdened with guilt by this thought which I do remember often, when I feel I have been to hard on my children. When I feel I have not treated them as royalty. 

Then it occurred to me the other day. This thought is not completely true… for sons and daughters of a King are meant to behave as such, they realize they are royalty, they do what is expected of their station and if they don’t someone trains them to do so. They are constantly under scrutiny and their behavior reflects that. My children too are expected to learn and apply the basic human morals… respect, kindness, helpfulness… and if they don’t behave as such they are not acting like royalty and thus… their expectation to be treated with “kid gloves” should be forfeit. Just a thought. 

We all are sons and daughters of the King. We all have standards and expectations as such. We all should behave according to His standards. And if we do not, we certainly shouldn’t expect to be babied into it. 

Exercise for the day: 

Before judging anyone, insure that you are doing so selflessly with no personal bias.

 

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Today is thirteen days, which is one week and six days of the omer… 

Week Two- Day Six: Yesod of Gevurah

Bonding in discipline

For discipline to be effective it must be coupled with commitment and bonding. 

Both in disciplining yourself and others there has to be a sense that the discipline is important for developing a stronger bond. 

Not that I discipline you, but that we are doing it together for our mutual benefit.

I pray that my children hear me when I try and express this lesson to them. That I am far from perfect and that they are also teaching me. That when they are getting discipline it is foremost out of love for them. I know it was difficult for me to believe that when I heard it from my own parents. I pray that they will believe it… I repeat it and will repeat it as many times as we do come face to face with a situation requiring discipline. I have caught myself recently noticing or practicing a interaction of “do as I say, not as I do” parenting… I NEVER wanted to become that kind of parent. I pray to repent and return from these behaviors and not become that kind of hypocrite to my children (especially to my children.) 

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Exercise for the day: 

Demonstrate to your child or student how discipline is an expression of intensifying your bond and commitment to each other.

How can I intensify my bond with my children? I know each of them would likely say, more time and personal one on one attention. How can I make this happen. 

****

Today is the fourteenth day, which are two weeks of the Omer… 

Week Two- Day Seven: Malchut of Gevurah 

Nobility in Discipline

Discipline that demoralizes a person will backfire. 

If only all disciplinarians of any shape form or walk would hear this lesson and heed it well. When you tear someone down in the name of ‘making them better’ or ‘getting their attention’ or ‘making a statement’… no matter what, it takes an extraordinarily strong person to not become if not completely… at least, partially diminished in spirit by that. This is something I have experienced MUCH in my life. Receiving discipline in an unhealthy form in order to ‘shape me up right’, while telling me how terrible I am , by throwing sins back in my face, by holding what I have not accomplished over my head. It takes super human strength to become inspired by something like that… to not become demolished emotionally by something like that. Demoralized… completely humiliated… perhaps some people might be able to rise above it, some might even find their way to thriving through it…I think of soldiers who are constantly torn down (but they knew that would be part of the ‘program’ and who they’re receiving it from is most likely not a loved one), I think then… of those during the Holocaust…. how could they endure and survive and live to give love. But they did. I never want to make my disciplining a boulder pressing down in order to test the sand of whats inside the other… I might end up grinding that sand so fine it turns to glass… easily shattered, not easily repaired.

Does my discipline cripple the human spirit? 

Does it weaken or strengthen me and others? 

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Exercise for the day:

When discipling your child or student, foster his self-respect.

***

Week Three- Tiferet 

Tiferet- Compassion blends and harmonizes the free outpouring love of chesed with the discipline of gevurah. Tiferet possesses the dimension of truth. Truth is accessed through selflessness: rising above your ego and predispositions, enabling you to realize a higher truth.

Having applied this recently I believe! Vulnerability and truth, when it goes so deliberately against most of our natural fleshly reactions and instincts (instincts rather to close up then be SO vulnerable IN truth, sometimes ugly truth from our past, current afflictions, etc.), blow apart the doors keeping our souls apart from a deeper connection with one another. Be vulnerable, be honest… I pray I can practice this. The outcome has been life changing thus far… make it last Lord. 

Today is the fifteenth day, which is two weeks and one day of the omer…

Week Three – Day One : Chesed of Tiferet 

Lovingkindness in Compassion 

Examine the love aspect of compassion. 

Does my compassion overflow with love and warmth; is it expressed with enthusiasm or is it static and lifeless? 

I do pray that it is as I perceive it… that I don’t do anything in life with lifelessness. I pray that I am not static with my compassion but ever pressing outward with genuine resolve to find a recipient of it. I try to be myself and as a general rule, I am perhaps to enthusiastic about much of everything in my life… myself is animated, myself tries to be consistent from what is inside showing outwardly, myself is really who I am, myself is open for pretty much anyone to grasp and become a part of me. Does my compassion overflow with love and warmth… I’ve been told, it does so with those outside of my immediate family members… but I do believe, to my fault, that it is not consistently definable as overflowing with the attribute of warmth. I wonder if my family would ever call me warm… I pray that my love is unmistakable to them… despite the lack of warmth. I could work on the warmth.

(What is holding me back? The physical, my moods, irritability, sarcasm, anger, personal hang ups that lock up the free spirited part of me. She got me into so much trouble… I fear tapping into anything that resembles her sometimes.) 

Exercise for the day: 

When helping someone, extend yourself in the fullest way. Offer a smile or loving gesture.

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Today is the sixteenth day, which is two weeks and two days of the Omer…

Week Three: Day Two – Gevurah of Tiferet

Discipline in Compassion

For compassion to be effective and healthy it needs to be disciplined and focused. It requires discretion both to whom you express compassion and in the measure of the compassion itself. It is recognizing when the compassion should be expressed and when it should be withheld or limited. 

Am I more compassionate with strangers than with close ones? If yes, why? 

Yes, I am. I must have foreseen this path because I mentioned it in the previous days thoughts. Yes, I am more compassionate with strangers than close ones. Why… because I feel that my close ones have all of my heart and attention for the better part of my life and I feel drawn to be more graceful and compassionate with “strangers” (although for me it would probably be with those I have established somewhat of a relationship with than a complete stranger)… because I’d like to make a good impression, because they’d be more likely to trust me, and then I’ll be able to help them from a better “footing”. The ones closest to me already (God willing) trust me… they know all the good and bad about me. I have wondered this in the past. When I have two toddlers in my care, one who is my child the other who is not… I will be more gentle and patient with the child who is not my own because they are a guest (often), because I desire the parent of the child to know I applied grace and patience. Sometimes, the more forceful nature with my own child will get the message across to the other child without me having to apply the same forcefulness to them directly.

Perhaps, we set a standard with our close ones… and so, we feel as though that which has been established with our close ones ‘goes without saying’… this might be a negative… because maybe our close ones foremost deserve that extra love and compassion. I am torn on the subject. I feel it is somewhat the way in which the prodigal son was treated (although this is not the SAME lesson to apply in this line of thinking) by his father… he was given much more enthusiastic love and compassion by the Father because he had been estranged and lost. The dear one, the son who was always there… his father told him- it has always been yours anyway, you were sound enough not to need it as much as it was given to the lost son… Perhaps that makes sense…I pray my close ones know they have all of me anyway, in the meantime… I feel like others in my life need my love and compassion in a more enthusiastic way. Perhaps. Perhaps not… again, torn. 

Be aware of fear. If it warns you of danger, take heed. Don’t second-guess yourself.

But if it lives silently in your heart as a part of who you have become, it may lead you astray. In the world of the spirit, the opposite of love is not hate but rather it is fear.

Fear of what? That love, abundant and free flowing, is somehow remote, far and inaccessible.

Here are the rules: Do not permit your perceptions of what is true to be based on a habit of fearful impulses.

Do not speak if there is fear in your heart.

Your words will lack clarity and precision. They will not be wise nor will they be compassionate.

Better to keep silent.

Do not allow your strategies, actions, or plans to be driven by fearful assumptions. 

 

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Today is the Seventeenth day, which is two weeks and three days of the Omer…

Week Three- Day Three: Tiferet of Tiferet 

Compassion in Compassion

True compassion is limitless. It is not an extension of your needs and defined by your limited perspective. Compassion for another is achieved by having a selfless attitude, rising about yourself and placing yourself in the other person’s situation and experience. 

How could I ever hold back compassion?! I have no idea where you have been and what you have been through. However when your perspective looses sight of my own “been through”, if you’re not willing to look through my lens… how can we find mutual respect? I have been realizing that I have no right to judge and everything I thought I really had a handle on… is out of my control. 

Is my compassion compassionate or self serving? 

Test yourself by seeing if you express compassion even when you don’t feel guilty. 

I know that I don’t just compassionate when I feel guilty. I am moved by people’s lives I have absolutely no tie to. I cry and soak my pillow for those I have never met. Thank God my compassion comes not merely from guilt. The main guilt I feel is that I have not been compassionate enough. Realizing where this happens… comes from communication. Its a difficult conversation to have, but when broached humbly… it can happen. 

How do I express my compassion? 

Is my compassion beautiful? Is it well rounded?  

I feel like my compassion is manifested by my acts of kindness. I try not to magnify those things, are they beautiful? I sure hope so. Well rounded? I try to stay consistent, I don’t keep up as much as I’d like to. But I think that tithing and giving with a compassionate heart has a lot more to do with just monetary contributions or set times for giving. I think it, is most beautiful, when it happens un-enlisted, un-provoked, and un-expected. 

Yesterday, I saw a guy ahead of me in line at a quick stop in Tucson. He was jittery, skinny, all over the place. Grasping for coins in his pocket, trying card after card… he just wanted to but an Icy, not vodka not smokes… and he had swirled the flavors just so. Multi colored, made to order. He pushed his drink aside to go figure out payment with his friend. I payed for my drink and his as well. I have no idea if he was on something, if he was really misfortunate or not… but I felt like he shouldn’t have to stress out over that Icy. I heard the cashier tell him I’d paid for it as I walked out the door and to our car. He would never be able to thank me, and that was perhaps the best thanks of all. 

I don’t know if giving a tenth on the first of month is the answer to everything. I don’t know that THAT exercises our compassion. 

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Exercise for the day: 

Express your compassion in a new way that goes beyond your previous limitations: express it toward someone to whom you have been callous.

Today is the eighteenth day, which is two weeks and four days of the omer…

Week Three – Day Four : Netzach of Tiferet 

Endurance in Compassion 

Is my compassion enduring and consistent? 

I find it hard, these days, to stay consistent with anything. I have a set list of responsibilities and even more things I’d like to accomplish. So many things get lost in the shuffle of the current need. There are so many things I dream about. 

Does it prevail among other forces in my life?

Sadly, I am a slave to my moods. It would be something, more than anything, I’d like to conquer and break free of. Eating better, exercising… I am certain that would help. Sleeping better not taking any medications or drinking at all. Less caffeine. I think all these things would help me become less moody. So how do I get there? Because in the morning I will be groggy until I have some coffee, I’ll work hard all day and have pain and maybe want to take the edge of even later on… how do I liberate myself from my so called “needs” which are truly mere desires? 

My moods are the forces in my life which do undermine my compassion. When I feel stressed, distracted, annoyed or upset… my compassion, and capability for compassion is challenged. I’d like to be better than this! How much I want it, and pray for it and pursue it… will testify to what happens next. 

Am I ready to stand up and fight for another? 

I do. And I have. I have chosen one friend over another. One parent or child over another… one road over another… because I believed that there was some wrongdoing taking place. I think every time I have stepped out to fight for the one I loved… whichever instance… it has turned out to be the right thing. However… the one I stood out on that limb for didn’t always live up to the faith I placed in them. It was still worth it. I’ll go down fighting… if its a righteous fight. I’ll fight to live, not to go out fighting… I’ll fight for life. 

Exercise for the day: 

In the middle of your busy day, take a moment to call someone who needs a compassionate word. Defend someone who is in need of sympathy even if it is not the popular position.

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Today is the Nineteenth day, which is two weeks and five days of the Omer….

Week Three- Day Five : Hod of Tiferet

Humility in Compassion

If compassion is not to be condescending and pretentious, it must include humility. Hod is recognizing that my ability to be compassionate does not make me better than the recipient; it is the acknowledgment and appreciation that by creating one who needs compassion, God gave me the gift of being able to bestow compassion. 

I am starting to wonder if I lack any compassion… for myself. There is a fine line between sinning willfully, or falling short of a calling and just being too hard on oneself. I wonder why we are driven to have compassion for the others in our lives but often get down on ourselves… or maybe its just me. I hate feeling outside of my purpose. I hate feeling like I’ve failed. I despise being in or putting myself into an environment where spirituality on a constant flow… is not encouraged or is discouraged. I just don’t know what line I am walking… the gut of me tells me I am failing, knows that I am failing. Then I do wonder what standard I am to be held up to… can I give myself a break? Should I? How long should it last? Who would be there to make sure I get back on track? 

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Exercise for the day: 

Express compassion in an anonymous fashion, without taking any personal credit.
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Today is the Twentieth day, which is two weeks and five days of the Omer…

Week Three- Day six: Yesod of Tiferet 

Bonding in Compassion 

For compassion to be fully realized, it needs bonding. It requires creating a channel between giver and receiver; a mutuality that extends beyond the moment of need; a bond that continues to live on. That is the most gratifying result of true compassion. 

Do you bond with the one you have compassion for, or do you remain apart? 

I desire to bond with everyone I come into contact with. Especially those within our community, our family. But I believe in the many set appointed times that Hashem has set out for us every single day. These appointments include interactions with people. I don’t like throwing gifts to people (even when they need it) without some sort of vision of more… for them, from me for them. 

Does your interaction achieve anything beyond a single act of sympathy? 

It should. I struggle with teaching my children about HOW to live compassion. That it is ok to give money to someone looking for a handout, but the higher goal would be to establish some kind of interaction or relationship that would allow them to teach the one in need how to become free of whatever put him or her on that street corner. At the same time it is a reality that that person is “less fortunate” than we are… that is why they are on the street corner. Whatever the circumstances that put them there… they are less fortunate and thus are in a position to where we should have compassion and give back in some way. I think giving should always have the motivation for more than just throwing something out there for someone. Its a scary world, you don’t always know who to trust or when it is appropriate to get involved. 

Exercise for the day: 

Ensure that something eternal is built as a result of your compassion.

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Today is the Twenty First day, which is three weeks of the Omer…

Week Three – Day Seven: Malchut of Tiferet 

Nobility in Compassion 

For compassion to be complete it must recognize and appreciate individual sovereignty. It should boost self esteem and cultivate human dignity and the dignity of the one benefitting from your compassion. 

Is my compassion expressed in a dignified manner? 

Does it elicit dignity in others? 

Exercise for the day:  

Rather than just giving charity; help the needy help themselves in a fashion that strengthens their dignity.

(I have never read this book I am using by Rabbi Shimon Jacobson, and every day it seems like I am picking up not on that day’s exercise or point to ponder… but the upcoming day’s content. That excites and interests me.)

Week Four: Netzach 

Endurance, Fortitude, Ambition 

These three words echo into my life, my thoughts, the conviction of the Holy Spirit that I am not being obedient to. They are echoing because these are three very important characteristics in which I KNOW I am hugely LACKING. I can start many things… but am I as strong to the finish? Hardly. Sometimes, perhaps often, I don’t finish at all. And when it comes to faith or living wholly and holy… I keep letting up on the discipline I KNOW is correct and that I should pursue. Why? Fortitude… I feel weak not strong. Sometimes I know I am strong but others… I just weaken MYSELF. I allow myself to become weakened and in that place the enemy attacks. I align myself with his will… that I (a power for good in this world on the side of Hashem) become weakened and unable to fully fulfill His purposes for me for that day, or the next or the next. Because I am not ambitious. I have phases of ambition in my life. I admire the woman I have been. But these days, it seems like a week is all I can manage to get through. Sometimes only a few days. I don’t want my children to have a mother like that. I don’t want to live like that. There has to be more for us all… in a positive sense. Not that I am dissatisfied….well, perhaps with myself. 

 

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Ask yourself: How committed am I to my values?  

I am extremely committed to my values. I just don’t like that word MY because what I value isn’t based on my own opinions or thoughts… I attempt to base my value system upon the Bible, the whole bible and so I feel as though my values are Hashem’s. At least they attempt to be His. 

How much would I fight for them? 

I do fight for them. So many don’t understand why we have chosen to walk in the Torah and it has been a continual fight, in a good sense though…that has caused a sense of surety and security in that which is right. There is so much richness in this walk, no matter in what other ways of life I might become off track, there is nothing more sure than this path in Torah in Yeshua. 

Am I easily swayed? 

No. I like to hear people out and I have more respect than I should at times… but I am very sure of this path and the other elements which are connected to it (for example, why I vote the way I do or the activism and philanthropic ventures I devote myself to.) 

What price am I willing to pay for my beliefs? 

I know that this life is a passing shadow. However it is the reason we are here! Part of me would be torn apart if I lost someone close to me but then I do feel that if I would die at this moment…I’d be welcomed into my Father’s arms. I know we’d have a long talk about all the things I’ve done wrong and how much I shouldn’t have worried or feared or wandered… and that knowledge, that union and discussion makes me willing to pay even my life out if it meant Hashem’s way’s were somehow confirmed by it. 

Is there any truth for which I would be ready to give my life? 

His truth. His way. His light. He gave his life and mine is not my own. However, for one to go on spreading the good word one has to be alive. I’d never agree to reject him openly… but I’d try and live another day to go on speaking about His goodness. I’d do that under any circumstance He’d present to me if I was assured He was behind and within it. 

 

Endurance 2

Today is the Twenty Second day, which is three weeks and one day of the Omer…

Week Four: Day One-Chesed of Netzach 

Lovingkindness in Endurance 

Today is the Twenty Third day, which is three weeks and two days of the Omer…

Week Four: Day Two- Gevurah of Netzach 

Discipline of Endurance

Today is the Twenty Fourth day, which is three weeks and three days of the Omer…

Week Four: Day Three- Tiferet of Netzach 

Compassion of Endurance 

 

Today is the Twenty Fifth day, which is three weeks and four days of the Omer…

Week Four: Day Four- Netzach of Netzach 

Endurance in Endurance 

This was my favorite night of the Omer yet, 

because it wasn’t forgotten. 

We started out so set, so definitive… we all sat around the table each and every one of us with a siddur open to the right page. Each and every one of us repeating each and every word. Then we each repeated, in turn, the sephirah of the day. This went on until last week. We almost skipped a few days if it weren’t for one of us remembering and making sure to engage.

But tonight was my favorite night, because I realized in real time, in true life… what I was listening to Rabbi Katz trying to give over yesterday. 

That the Omer, the Sephirah is not about reaching for something you don’t already have… reaching or striving for that which is beyond you, or higher… or loftier… or holier… it’s about realizing how immensely magnificently beautiful what you ALREADY HAVE is… 

Tonight was my favorite night because it was just my daughter and I. My oldest. On the couple of days past mother’s day… the little girl becoming a young lady who made me into a mother. She, lying in my lap like a little tiny one, but she’s soooo not tiny anymore. Lying there, her long (past her behind long) golden brown hair lying across her back… printed butterfly pj’s (the bigger version of something like I used to zip her into as a babe). I stroke her hair as my voice and her heartfelt, hearty (even though we are both tired) refrain, coinciding with mine… repeating the Omer blessings. 

This is my favorite night of the Omer, because I realize how exceedingly blessed I am to be the mother of this amazing child becoming a young lady. This very day she spent hours painting, oil painting… God has blessed her with so many amazing special people who see the potential in her life… and invest into it. In time, in experience. She comes home smelling of the various items that real painters use to clean their instruments and make their paints dry properly and swiftly. She was meant to be gone an hour and stayed for four. She got “so into it” the seasoned artist she is learning with explained when I called. 

I could have stayed like this forever, small window of real gratitude. Humbling gratitude for this precious soul beside me. Trusting me with love in my lap. 

This was my very favorite night of the omer. 

Today is the Twenty Sixth day, which is three weeks and six days of the Omer…

Week Four: Day Five- Hod of Netzach 

Humility in Endurance

Today is the Twenty Seventh day, which is three weeks and seven days of the Omer…

Week Four: Day Five- Yesod of Netzach 

Bonding in Endurance

Exercise for the day: 

To ensure the endurance of your new resolution, bond with it immediately. This can be assured by promptly actualizing your resolution in some constructive deed or committing yourself to another.

This is why there are spaces in the days above. I didn’t come close to bonding with my resolution. Why? I have a list of excuses. There will always be excuses. Yes, journaling every single day has never been a forte of mine… so it was a lofty goal. Yes, I have not just jotted down a few notes here or there… this entry is imbued with so much of myself. The images and the thoughts take more than a few minutes to document. So there… however, are these sacred days of counting just happening amidst whatever else is going on? Is it that, if I have time for the introspection then the refinement will be taking place? What is the point of the observance of the Torah if it is wafting in the space around the living of life? My desire is for it all to be the center, the everything. Sometimes I cry because I feel how short I fall. I feel like it is my soul that is crying, because it misses that place at one with Hashem where this longing in me is a reality… where everything is about Him and the lovingly living of His Torah, whatever that resembles in the realm of spirit. 

I am now bonding with my insufficiency, embracing my inadequacy, falling in love with what I HAVE and not with what I have NOT…. Baruch Hashem. 

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Today is the Twenty Eighth day, which is four weeks of the Omer…

Week Four: Day Seven- Malchut of Netzach 

Nobility in Endurance

Sovereignty is the cornerstone of endurance. Endurance that encompasses the previous six qualities is indeed a tribute and testimony to the majesty of the human spirit. 

Is my endurance dignified? 

I don’t know if anything about me is dignified. I feel like a basket case inside. I try to keep a manageable level of sanity, but there are literally at least 5 to seven human voices speaking around me and to me at all times. That doesn’t include the voice of my conscience, or that of Hashem or that of the enemy or just the busy noisy voices of things I have heard or songs I remember…  so if I am dignified at all, its under a huge amount of effort and motivation to stay together and not fall apart. 

Does it bring out the best in me? 

My endurance. It is spotty. As you can see, there is a huge amount of motivation upfront… and I do run the race to the finish… but I stagger throughout. I am not consistent. This is the metaphor for my life and all the things in it. Everything is beautiful and wonderful and sacred for a time… this is phase one of anything and everything in my life. Phase two consists of a valiant effort to enlist others and myself to keep the sanctity and honor and respect for the people, places, things, habits, ceremonies in our lives. Phase three is when I have been pulled in all different directions and return to find that all the pieces and parts and ingredients of those sacred things have been strewn about, have become a jumble of incompletion and love grown stale… then comes the final phase when I grasp and gather and put back and repair (or attempt to). Will it work? Only in part… because of the lack of consistent endurance. Still… there is beauty here. I am choosing to seek it out. 

When faced with hardships do I behave like a king or queen, walking proudly with my strengths, or do I cower and shrivel up in fear?  

Perhaps like the queen of hearts in Wonderland, roaring and demanding… what a shame I have not learned that the key to getting the help I need is not screaming “off with their heads!”. 

I feel like cowering. I feel a magnetic draw up to the living waters of the mountains near my home. I feel like curling up in a fetal ball and squeezing my formless form into the cool, cold waters and remember what it means to need and desire to be reborn. I need mikveh. Literal, but since this seems out of reach… from the inside. Purify my everything Lord, I have made an awful swamp of things. Protect my vulnerable spirit for I have donned the losers wreath of shame… my medal reads- all over the place. 

Ground me in Your love. I am not afraid. I am terrified I have forgotten awe. I am relying on the outside… people, who leave… substance, which runs out in times of famine… myself, who am I now? 

Exercise for the day:

Fight for a dignified cause.

Week Five- Hod 

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Today is the Twenty Ninth day, which is four weeks and one day of the Omer…

Week Five: Day One- Chesed of Hod

Lovingkindness in Humility

We learn from Pesach Sheni that nothing is ever lost – we can always rectify the situation. No matter what condition a person is in, he can always rise up and rehabilitate himself. On Pesach Sheni, those who were ritually impure on the first Pesach, or were far away – even if they went afar on purpose in order to distance themselves from God –have a second chance….The message of Pesach Sheni is that nothing is lost. No matter where you fall, there is always solid hope that you will emerge from your quagmire – be it material or spiritual. …“Israel is dear for they were called the children of God.” No matter what, you are God’s child – and you always have a second chance…

By Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

A timely message for me. I feel like I’ve been running away from the things I am too unmotivated to change. But change is within my grasp. I just need to put my hands into the soil and not be afraid or disgusted when they become dirty. Today can be a new day if I will allow Hashem to shape it as such. Or I can remain in the quagmire. As inspired as I am at this moment to dig… I pray that I don’t become stagnant or apprehensive. 

Today is the Thirtieth day, which is four weeks and two days of the Omer…

Week Five- Day Two : Gevurah of Hod 

Discipline in Humilty

When should my humility cause me to compromise and when should it not? 

Humility should cause me to compromise when I know that there is peace to be reached because of it. Even if I know that I am not wrong, even if I know that the other is in a distorted way or mindset or state of mind… if I can reach their heart through compromise, and humility… then peace can be established. Then the doors to hearts being opened are made possible. 

When someone else I love is being mistreated and there is no other excuse or way of reasoning it out… I can’t allow being silently humble to come into the way of my protection of that person. I have to stand between them and the slings and arrows… this allows them to know that they are loved and protected by me and that I am willing to stand in that gap with them… that they are not alone in the fight. Even if it means I will catch flak as well. Or sometimes… in their place. 

In the name of humility, do I sometimes remain silent and neutral in the face of wickedness? 

This is a question that is timely, as I have been failing I question my right or reason to judge another. I loose the fortitude it takes to be brave enough to give over the truth of the gospel. I wonder if I am saying enough or giving it over ‘correctly’. I have been remaining neutral in places where things are repeated or endorsed which I know are wrong and run contrary to the race which Yeshua died to complete. Then I remember His patience and how he evangelized. He broke bread with sinners, he patiently answered the questions, often condescending ones… of those who thought they had it all figured out. He didn’t compromise when it was revolving around His Father’s house… he did ‘make a scene’ at that point. He used extremely harsh language to get his point across at certain times (you snakes!)… but mostly, he made relationships. Then gave over His truth. He also rejected certain relationships… it was not a free for all. He weeded out the insincere through the sterling quality and severity of his message (drink my blood, eat my flesh). Those who lived too literally ran from it, those who weren’t intrigued by the challenge of understanding a “difficult word” left him… or stopped listening to what he had to say. So I figure, what do I have to lose by just telling the truth? Still, it can be daunting and intimidating. 

Last night we walked in the cool spring dusk air. We strode like a train You’ve made, up the slight slope we rode. A family, children… with parents in tow. I breathed in and felt my heart again. We began in unison, to speak the blessings of the Omer… I looked at the panoramic view before my eyes. Mounting hills and pink with purple cloud filled skies… I felt the wonder in your mitzvot again. Tonight they weren’t just hanging in the atmosphere surrounding the already present activities. Tonight they were realized through the lens of awe once again. Along the way… we recited by memory and counted the day. I asked Hashem… is it possible to do a number of commandments simultaneously? How many can there be present at one time? What power and majesty went into my life. Teaching them to my children as we walked along the way, remembering the upcoming appointment at Shavuot by marking the days… and the one that He reminded me is ever present, no matter what shape my life is in- loving the Lord Who is my God, with all my Heart with all my Soul and at this moment… with all my very might and intention. Meaningful tears kissed the path we strode.

Thank You Hashem, without You, nothing is truly meaningful.

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Exercise for the day: 

Focus on your reluctance to commit in a given area and see if it originates from a healthy, humble place.

Today is thirty-one days, which are four weeks and three days of the Omer…

Week Five- Day Three: Tiferet of Hod 

Compassion in Humility 

Examine if your humility is compassionate. 

Is my humility balanced and beautiful, or is it awkward? 

Just as humility brings compassion, compassion can lead one to humility. If you lack humility, try acting compassionately, which can help bring you to humility. 

Exercise for the day: 

Express a humble feeling in an act of compassion.

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Today is thirty two days which are four weeks and four days of the Omer…

Week Five: Day Four- Netzach of Hod 

Endurance in Humility 

Examine the strength and endurance of your humility. 

Does my humility withstand challenges? 

Sometimes. I has. But more often I am blown over by the changes that come, or the unexpected resistance or conflicts. I am learning to be stronger… more deeply rooted in endurance. The humility of hod may be the missing ingredient. I am told I am not humble… perhaps it is true. 

Am I firm in my positions or do I waffle in the name of humility? 

I am firm, sometimes to a fault, with my children at times. But I am thinking of other times when I have stepped back and been willing to be humble instead of right… in order to hear the other side of things. This seems to cause relationships to grow. 

Is my humility perceived as weakness? 

I don’t display it enough. I feel very weak. Lately it comes in the form of feeling drained because I put too much trust in a person who I am not doubting the fidelity of. I am feeling lowly because of current backsliding in my footsteps on the straight and narrow. I am just overall feeling overwhelmed because of the changes that need to take place in our home on a physical and spiritual level… and it seems like so much. 

Does that cause others to take advantage of me? 

If they do, let them. I am at the service of whomever needs me. If someone is taking advantage… let them. Eventually Hashem will bring rectification. I don’t wait for justice on this earth because it rarely if ever comes… but I am sure of His making all things right in the end. 

Exercise for the day:

Demonstrate the strength of your humility by initiating or actively participating in a good cause.

Today is thirty three days, which is four weeks and five days of the omer… 

Week Five: Day Five- Hod of Hod 

Humility of Humility 

Everyone has humility and modesty in his or her heart, the question is the measure and manner in which one consciously feels it. 

Learn to cultivate humility by interacting with people who are more refined than yourself, evoking  in you modesty and humility that motivates you to grow.

I think the trick for me to this practice is to be motivated by inspiration not competition. Sometimes I see so many wonderful people in my life, all that they do and all that they accomplish and I think… I need to be like that. I think it SHOULD be a feeling of wanting to do better just because that is the right thing… competition can lead to healthy ends but in itself may not be positive. I have misjudged many people and things in my own life and walk because of that slight twisting of the enemy. Who wants that competition to come between friendships and relationships instead of that inspiration motivating all parties to reach loftier, higher, goals which would honor Hashem. 

Humility must also be examined for its genuineness. 

Is my humility humble or yet another expression of arrogance? 

Is my humility part of a crusade or is it genuine? 

Do I have expectations due to my humility? 

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Exercise for the day: 

Be humble just for its own sake.

Today is thirty four days which are four weeks and six days of the Omer… 

Week Five: Day Six – Yesod of Hod 

Bonding in Humility 

Humility should not be a lonely experience. 

It ought to result in deep bonding and commitment. 

There is no stronger bond than one that comes out of humility. 

Does my humility produce results? 

Always. There is never a time when I have stepped out in faith, for me being humble takes an amount of faith in Hashem… to believe that lowering myself is honoring Him. My usual instinct is to defend and fight. Sometimes this is right… but most often not. He’s never disappointed me, teaching me about the aspect of humility and its POWER.

Long term results? 

The longest… I feel I lightly lightly stroke the face of heaven when I tap into humility. Its a wonder I don’t try and try hard to do it much more frequently.

Does it create an everlasting foundation upon which I am others can rely and build? 

So may it be….

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Exercise for the day: 

Use your humility to build something lasting.

Today is thirty-five days, which are five weeks of the Omer…

Week Five: Day Seven- Malchut of Hod 

Nobility in Humility 

Walking humbly is walking tall. Dignity is the essence of humility and modesty. The splendor of humility is majestic and aristocratic. Humility that suppresses the human spirit denies individual sovereignty is not humility at all. 

Does my humility make me feel dignified? 

Do I feel alive and vibrant?

Yes sometimes and no sometimes. Sometimes I feel dead. Sometimes I can touch heaven’s edge. Doesn’t it depend? Aren’t we all subject to our daily toil, or delight… or health and the limitations of our bodies or the amount of peace there is around us? Or can a little Christian girl who is daily raped or abused in Muslim lands feel vibrant and alive if she gets a moment of peace with Hashem in her heart? My life is nowhere near that difficult. But what a question. For me its one thing, for someone like her… quite another. 

Exercise for the day: 

Teach someone how humility and modesty enhance human dignity.

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WEEK SIX – YESOD

Bonding Foundation 

Yesod- Bonding

Today is Thirty Six days, which are five weeks and one day of the Omer…

Week Six: Day One- Chesed of Yesod 

Lovingkindness in bonding

Love is the heart of bonding. You cannot bond without love. Love establishes a reliable base on which bonding can build. 

Sometimes, or is it more like… all the time. I wonder- what is coming across? What is getting through? Is there substance being gleaned by these children or any other person in my life? Is it worth my efforts or could I reign it all in a lot more… and is there a whole lot more I should be doing? Over the past week, my five year old daughter has been keeping up wholeheartedly with the sephirah. She’s been wanting to read, she thinks about it early and makes sure its not forgotten. She’s all in, she’s motivated, she’ll remember this time together. I am so grateful to see the spark of excitement I myself should have… to count the Omer. What an honor, what could be more encouraging. It makes me more secure that even when I am not as impassioned as I should be… the substance being given over… has a voice of its own. It’s voice is not mine. It is heaven’s whisper and it is heaven sent.

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Exercise for the day: 

Demonstrate the bond you have with your child or friend through an act of love.

Today is Thirty Seven days, which are five weeks and two days of the Omer… 

Week Six: Day Two- Gevurah of Yesod

Discipline in bonding

Examine the discipline of your bonding. Bonding must be done with careful discretion and consideration with whom and with what you bond. Even the healthiest and closest bonding needs “time out,” a respect for each individual’s space. 

Do I overbond? 

Am I too dependent on the one I bond with? 

Do I bond with healthy wholesome people? 

Exercise for the day:

Review your bonding experiences to see if they need more discipline or change.

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Today is Thirty eight days which are five weeks and four days of the Omer….

Week Six: Day Three- Tiferet of Yesod 

Compassion in Bonding 

Bonding needs to be not only loving but also compassionate, feeling your friend’s pain and empathizing with him. 

Is my bonding unconditional? 

Do I withdraw when I am uncomfortable with my friend’s troubles? 

Exercise for the day: 

Offer help and support in dealing with an ordeal of someone you have bonded with.

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Today is Thirty Nine days which are five weeks and four days of the Omer….

Week Six: Day Four- Netzach of Yesod 

Endurance in Bonding 

An essential component of bonding is its endurance; its ability to withstand challenges and setbacks. Without endurance there is no chance to develop true bonding. 

Am I totally committed to the one with whom I bond?

It is hard for me to totally commit to anyone. Even Hashem. I am totally committed but I can’t spend the time with Him I’d like to… I’d love to… because life is so busy and full. I can’t give each of my kiddos the time I’d like to because they all require it and there’s just never enough to go around. I can’t bond very well with my husband because of all that we have to do throughout the week. All of the doings are a blessing, so I pray that we can all find ways to bond better… and more… while accomplishing the “musts” of life. 

How much will I endure and how ready am I to fight to maintain this bond? 

I believe that my endurance will survive and prevail… but not and NEVER on my own. On my own I am weak as can be. With HASHEM I can do anything in accord with His will. It seems to me that it would always be in His will for me to endure in maintaining the bonds He has sown into my life. I do fight for one bond in particular… sometimes it is hard, but always worthwhile. 

Is the person with whom I bond aware of my devotion? 

I don’t believe so. Not deep in the core of the person. I think logically this person must realize it. But sometimes it seems that everything I try to do to maintain the bond, especially at the most trying points… is not trusted or believed in. This is hard, and makes me wonder what more I should and could be doing. 

Exercise for the day: 

Demonstrate the endurance level of your bonding by confronting a challenge that obstructs the bond.

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Today is Forty days, which are five weeks and five days of the Omer… 

Week Six: Day Five- Hod Yesod 

Humility in Bonding 

Humility is crucial in healthy bonding. Arrogance divides people. Preoccupation with your own desires and needs separates you from others. Humility allows you to appreciate another person and bond with him. Bonding that is just an extension of your own needs is only bonding tighter with yourself.  Healthy bonding is the union of two distinct people with independent personalities, who join for a higher purpose than satisfying their own needs. 

True humility comes from recognizing and acknowledging God in your life. 

Am I aware of the third partner -God- in bonding, and that this partner gives me the capacity to unite with another, despite our distinctions? 

Why can’t I love you the way I should? It is not as if you do not deserve deep true love, my truest kind of love. I don’t know how to love you the way you imagine I should. I do love you, the way I know how… but it is not as it should be. How do I make it such? I know I cannot. So I pray for the One Who brought us together once, to bring us together again, anew, deeply and truly. It takes both of us being completely honest and unafraid… to truly grow into one being in Him. I know that neither of us are truly honest or unafraid with and of one another. Perhaps there is some building up of this house that must be done before we, as a united couple, enter in and make our family here. For now I pray that you begin to and continue to believe that there is love for you from me… it may not be the kind you understand… but it is what I have to give. And I will pray that I learn how to give more. 

I am constantly aware that it is Hashem that has kept everything together. It is Him to comes in with grace when there is a transgression, it is Him who comes in with compassion when there is pain, it is Him who steps in when there is only fury and somehow He makes peace…. none of this would continue if He weren’t in it. I am all at once utterly humbled and thankful. I pray for a close encounter with Him that He dig deep as this counting comes to an end… I am opening up my hardened sun beaten soil for Him to soften with His living water. Perhaps by Shavuot the soil will be ready for planting. 

Exercise for the day: 

When praying, acknowledge God specifically for helping you bond with others.

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Today is Forty one days, which are five weeks and six days of the Omer… 

Week Six: Day Six- Yesod of Yesod

Bonding in Bonding

To cultivate your capacity to bond, even if you have valid reasons to distrust, you must remember that God gave you a Divine soul that is nurturing and loving and you must recognize the voice within, which will allow you to experience other people’s hearts and souls. Then you can slowly drop your defenses when you recognize someone or something you can truly trust. 

Do I have difficulty bonding? 

Is it difficult in all areas or only in certain ones? 

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Exercise for the day: 

Begin bonding with a new person (or experience) that is important to you by committing a designated time each day or week to spend together constructively. 

This is so awesome. Hashem’s timing is immaculate. I have reached out in personal ways to old and new people I hope without expectation to become a part of my life, to reconnect to my life. Now that is in His hands. 

Also, my daughter read out loud to me (while I was organizing our entire book collection) a timely, fortunately placed book on parenting. I plan to “commit” to the few great things I learned from it and attempt to bond with these practices for childrearing. Again, completely in His hands. 

Today is Forty two days, which are six weeks of the Omer… 

Week Six: Day Seven- Malchut of Yesod 

Nobility in Bonding

Bonding must enhance a person’s nobility. It should nurture and strengthen your own dignity and the dignity of the one with whom you bond. 

Exercise for the day: 

Emphasize and highlight the strengths of the one with whom you bond.

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WEEK SEVEN- Malchut

Nobility, Sovreignty, Leadership

Today is Forty three days, which are six weeks and one day of the Omer… 

Week Seven: Day One- Chesed of Malchut

Lovingkindness in Nobility

Exercise for the day: 

Do something kind for your subordinates.

Today is Forty four days, which are six weeks and two days of the Omer… 

Week Seven: Day Two- Gevurah of Malchut 

Discipline in Nobility

Exercise for the day: 

Before taking an authoritative position on any given issue, pause and reflect if you have the right and the ability to exercise authority in this situation. 

I can’t think of any situation, outside of raising my children, that I have any authority to judge. I am not a scholar, a hero, or a soldier. Then again… in micro- ways I guess I am a little of all of them. I am learning and strive to learn and always want to learn more, and we all should know that learning means teaching. I am no hero but I desperately want to be there for my husband, children,friends, family, community when they really need me. I am not a soldier yet I battle every day with the innate evil in me… enlisting the weapons of prayer and the sword of the word and the light inside of me that was also placed there by Hashem. Still… outside of the lives of my children what authority do I have? I voted, so I guess I have the right to speak my mind politically. Otherwise I’d keep my positions to myself. (Smile) 

Today is Forty five days, which are six weeks and three days of the Omer… 

Week Seven: Day Three- Tiferet of Malchut 

Compassion in Nobility 

Examine the compassion of sovreignty. 

A good leader is a compassionate one. 

Exercise for the day: 

Review an area where you weild authority and see if you can polish it up and increase its effectiveness by curtailing excesses and consolidating forces.

Today is Forty six days, which are six weeks and four days of the Omer…

Week Seven: Day Four- Netsach of Malchut 

Endurance in Nobility

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My daughter asked me what this meant. She didn’t get… why I was so shaken up (in a good sense) about it. How would you explain it?

All our life, our entire being… is in the Hand of Hashem. Our lives should be… lived with the intention of being at His service. Sometimes, He uses us as a weapon. A weapon to share and spread the truth of His righteous ways… a weapon to cut through the chaos in this world.  A weapon to be fired… red hot and then sent out to seal up open wounds… cauterizing broken hearts. Without Him using us… indeed we feel useless, wasted, tend toward depression… thus we rot. So we ask Him to use us and make some important (on any level, even to one person) impact for His Kingdom in this life.

Sometimes it feels like we’re going to break. Sometimes we ask Him to take it easier on us, to lift the burdens from upon us, we ask Him not to put us in places that make us feel uncomfortable or intimidated….but….

the more you think about that request you realize that is putting a condition on that former request to use our lives. That is putting our own desires and levels of comfort before HIS WILL. That is saying, I’ll go, but not there… I’ll work, but only these hours…

the more you think about it… the more you realize, what you desire more than security, calm, boring, regulated, standardized, simple mission work… is whatever HE WILLS and WHENEVER HE WILLS IT and however He see’s fit to bring His Work in us and through us about. And if we break in the process…. truly, who cares? We don’t… because we will have been broken in the trust, in the covenant, in the bosom of the King of Kings who is just and righteous and merciful and perfect and trustworthy… so, if we break, we break in His hand… what a more honorable mission. And in the end…. reunion.

Today is Forty seven days, which are six weeks and five days of the Omer…

To be in service to something larger than ourselves is true greatness.

It is the Work of our lives.

Let there be no confusion: you may not be earning a living by doing your work. Your work is your contract with God. It requires you to use unique abilities, your natural inclination, and your passion.

Your work is your purpose for living; it is service to great and noble things. We all have met the English teacher who tends to wounded souls, the doctor who motivates sacred living, the administrative assistant who teaches joy, the corporate VP who inspires greatness.

Beyond the resume, the paycheck, the job description, there is work to be done.

Past the reviews and advancements, and the office politics, there is a world to embrace.

Do not confuse your job with your work.

I learned a while ago that the best way to play politics is not to play. You may lose your job, but you will not lose your integrity.

Stay true to your Work.

It is your true legacy.

Excerpt from Omer a Counting by Rabbi Karyn D Kedar

THIS… THIS!!! I may not work in an office, but this hit home to me so very much. This is probably the best lesson I may have ever learned from a human being. The Work Hashem asks of us is our TRUE CALLING. It is this Work that I strive to pursue. It is this Work that I wake up thinking about and go to bed anticipating. It is so meaningful to me that I would let go of all this world constructs as what I should be doing if I could… (which I can’t, none of us can unless we are billionaires) to pursue it. True Work. May my days be accounted according to those which I spent dwelling on  and in and for this Work. 

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Incredibly… we are on the heels of Shavuot. 

I cannot tell you where these nearly 50 days have gone. Nor can I explain how fast this time has passed. It was full, rich, trying, beautiful and almost painfully revealing for me. 

How would you summarize your journey with Counting the Omer this year? 

What attribute (sephirot) did you connect most to? Which one did you dwell on in thought and heart the most? 

What do you feel and think right now… with only two full days left before the “Torah Came Down” and the Spirit was poured out? 

Do you feel “ready”? How can we ready ourselves in these last days? 

This entire week would have been in heightened preparation. Focus. Man was not to be intimate with his wife… because of ceremonial defilement (not a sin) in connection to approaching Hashem. Perhaps, because the Nation was marrying Hashem… there was to be no other marital union coming between them. 

Counting yesterday with a dear friend, more dear than I can express… allowed me the time to realize where I may be “at” coming into the final days of counting. 

I see before me all the things that this time has dug out, what Hashem has been digging out of me. I see many faults. Some things I can hardly bear to own. But the things on the table before me are all from me, they are mine. The good, the bad, the faulted, the just plain awful… and the valuable too. 

Tonight, while rocking my snuggly little bundle, I was watching a teaching about the Sephirat ha Omer. Then I glanced down. He was staring up at me. Wide eyed… unblinking, shining this absolutely enthralled kind of love toward me… and wonder. Wonder. I realized I might have missed this moment had I not caught his eyes. This, in a nutshell, is the story of my life. I’ve striven with all my being to BE a good person and to BE there for those who love me and need me… but so often I have MISSED the special little moments with those closest to me. I’ve over-reached. I’ve missed. I missed the mark. I have been striving for Torah and for sharing the Torah and living the Torah the way Hashem would want me to… when all the while I have been giving over “Torah’s” to my children. Every day. My Torah’s (teachings) have consisted of some very meaningful moments… but also, some very distorted and confusing ones.

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I looked into my sweet baby son’s eyes and I told him. His imma… can be so ugly. This face he’s gazing at so sweetly in longing wonder… can be terribly mean and short, impatient and sarcastic. And while my mind combed through the many times I could have (and would have been held responsible for) ULTIMATELY FAILING my children in either caring for or raising them… Hashem was just not willing to let the enemy convince Him that I was unworthy of this life. Of these children. Of this family. Of this responsibility in this walk. And Hashem loved and loves me so much, has entrusted me with so very much… because HE WANTS FOR ME TO HAVE WHAT I HAVE BEEN GIVEN… because He has a plan for this family and this life. That us all being together… and learning together… and giving Torah’s over to one another… is because HE HAS A PLAN that includes us being together. Suddenly… I realized, my son is looking at me the way that I look to Him. Trusting me the way that I trust Him. Loving me the way that I Love Him. I don’t deserve this kind of trust or love from either my son or my King… but it is MINE. Only because He want’s for me to have it.

And all the other things out on the table… they’re eclipsed by that truth. The other things on the table I can fiddle around with. I can sweep some off onto the floor, I can improve others with hard work, I can examine and save others for later. Right now… I am hanging on that truth. The truth that He wants this kind of close intimacy and trust in and with me. That is profoundly humbling and frightening too (as in awesome.. wondrous). So all I can do is throw myself at His feet and ask Him to daily give me the capability to never bring any shame to His Name as I fail along the way, and I praise Him that He has given me a way to walk… I cannot wait to daily recieve His Torah’s that HE is giving over to me as my Father… as my King… and as all my tears are in His record, so are my joys… like this moment.

Now I know what it means to be ready. Because He loves me that much… I can believe in the receiving.. not that I am worthy, but that He has chosen me and that I am… completely His. 

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