Monthly Archives: May 2015

Counting the Omer – Day 49

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty nine, which is seven weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve tesha she hem shiva shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Malkhut, majesty within majesty, presence within presence.

It’s been a long Omer, and I have to thank you for counting it with me. Sometimes, I’ve been late – but we continued to count together. I don’t know that I learned much – maybe a little here and there, maybe not. I do know that I am not at all like God. I can’t make big things happen, fix things for anyone, change the course of time and space. As a substitute teacher who often works at a special needs school, I know how often I can affect change – almost never. So, as I come to Malkhut be Malkhut, where I strive to be as close to God as possible, I wonder where I can go with that.

I realize that God doesn’t have to do much to be God. For me, to affect change, God just has to be present – to listen, to accept, to be. That is something I can do. I can witness the crazy. I can listen to the people, I can accept them as they are, I can be actively, fully present. If it’s enough for God, maybe it’s enough for me too.

Many things are changing in my life. No matter how much I prefer to hold on to what is, to have things be true or false, things don’t chose to be that way. Instead they continue to change all out of countenance, becoming different from anything I could have ever thought or imagined. So, how can I handle this? Screaming, hiding under the bed, or running around in circles, which is what comes to my mind are probably not the best approaches. I fall back on presence. I can be there throughout the change, ready to learn and grow, do the next thing, and in and of myself, change as necessary.

Whether to affect change in the world, or cope with changes that are happening, my job is to be most fully present and to accept that this may be all I can do. If I can use the Omer count as a way of teaching me to be more present, maybe I’ve learned enough for this year.

Today, we are fully present in our day.

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Counting the Omer – Day 48

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty eight, which is six weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shmone she hem shisha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Malkhut, intimacy within nobility, family within presence.

I happen to like Mary Poppins. I’ve read the book, seen the movie, and gone to the play, and I like them all – although there are slightly dreadful bits. One of them in the movie is the father, Mr. Banks, singing ‘I’m the king of my castle,’ in which he describes his relationship to the people in his home as one of a lord over underlings. He isn’t the kind of king I think of God as being either. He alternates between ignoring people and bossing them around, never listening and having ridiculous expectations. I picture God in the opposite way. God never ignores and listens closely to our prayers. God provides sensible choices but allows people to make mistakes. God expects us to be no more and no less than we can.

If I take Mr. Banks’s suggestion at face value, then I am a queen in my castle in my house. It’s true that I have a responsibility to take care of and guide kids and to be available to the people I live with. However, I want to be a queen like God is king, not like Mr. Banks. I want to guide rather than ordering, listen rather than ignoring, supportive rather than demanding. As the Omer count comes to an end, I want to show the people I’m closest to that I’ve learned something about relationships, and be the best leader I can be.

Today, we ensure that we meet our family responsibilities through appropriate leadership.

Counting the Omer – Day 47

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty seven, which is six weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve sheva she hem shisha shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Malkhut, gratitude within majesty, humility within nobility.

Malkhut, the embodiment of majesty, the emulation of God’s leadership, the work to be holy, to be noble, to be a guide and a ruler, it’s not easy and it’s not always fun. “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”, as the saying goes. Or to quote from a more Jewish source, “yes, we’re the chosen people…but God, can’t you chose someone else for a change?” So, near the end of the Omer count, we are presented with a challenge – be grateful for it. Be grateful for the responsibilities thrust upon you. Be grateful for the tasks you need to accomplish. Be grateful for the people who depend on you. It’s no easy task.

Today, we are grateful for the challenges that are part of attempting to be noble

Counting the Omer – Day 46

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty six, which is six weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shesh she hem shisha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Malkhut, victory within majesty, conquest within nobility.

What is a victory for royalty? Beating another country? Hmmm… I occasionally sign those online petitions. I know, I should be doing more important things, and no one ever listens, and …It’s probably a sign of dementia. Still, it’s one of the few things I can do to make this world’s politics and environment slightly less toxic. Anyway, this site asked for a personal message for this mayor, to support him in his battle against a polluting dangerous multinational corporation. I was thinking about what I wrote, and here – when we talk about victory the way God defines victory, for the powerful the way God defines power – here, maybe what I wrote applies. I wrote

“I picture a world filled with deserts and wasteland, a thin layer of sticky oil covering anything. I see fewer and fewer animals and plants growing in the world, until we become like wasp larvae, each in our own little cell, eating tasteless pre−digested pap (maybe some kind of yeast derivative) and living off of screens. Maybe I read too much science fiction − but I see the horrors of dystopian science fiction become reality day after day, and it scares me.

I also picture a greener world, where we live in balance with the earth around us, finding ways to make a living while also finding ways to live. I see us learning new powerful ways to gain the energy we need and build our world. I see equality, peace, joy, awareness spreading and filling our world.

The little decisions we make every day chose between these paths. Today, it is your choice. Please make the right one.”

Maybe God would see this mayor’s action as a victory of a leader.

Today, we take the small actions that may not accomplish much, but that are still victories of leadership.

Counting the Omer – Day 45

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty five, which is six weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve hamesh she hem shisha shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Malkhut, beauty within majesty, loveliness within nobility.

By their nature, kings and queens are beautiful. They have enough money to make themselves look more beautiful, to devote to exercise schedules and make up and spas and so on. Also, their appearance is seen as beautiful because they’re rich and important. So, how can I emulate that? I don’t have (nor would want) money to spend on make-up and personal trainers. I can, however, being royalty, take as much care with my appearance as a queen down on her luck, financially, and more importantly, I can ensure that I see myself as beautiful. When I see myself as beautiful, others will too.

Today, we see ourselves as beautiful. We are royalty, after all.

Counting the Omer – Day 44

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty four, which is six weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve arba she hem shisha shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Malkhut, strength within majesty, might within nobility.

It’s weird. Today, I’m supposed to be strong and majestic, and yet I feel weak. This is supposed to mark the end of a long journey, you know? One in which I’ve matured and changed as I counted the days of the Omer. Instead, I seem to make the same mistakes over and over without an end in sight. This is NOT useful. It’s one way in which my life and the lives of my favourite novel characters differs. They seem to grow and mature, become something better than what they were. I, I seem to stumble along from one crazy mistake to another, littering the path behind me with missed opportunities and good intentions.

So, I can’t necessarily find my strength in success, because I don’t  always have any. I can’t find might in my accomplishments, in the results I achieve. And Yoda and my dad both agree that it’s not the trying that counts, it’s actually the results I achieve. Am I the kind of ruler who just hides behind others, claiming the glory for their victories? Well, maybe.

I can find strength in something, though. I am strong enough, noble enough to laugh at it. Life – especially my life – is funny. It is gloriously, majestically funny. As a member of the nobility – for today we emulate nobility, and aren’t we that nation of holy people – my foibles make me excentric and interesting. So, today, I say “ha” to any weakness I feel, and then I follow it up with a whole lot of other “ha, ha, ha”s as I appreciate the hilarious nature of my stumbling through the mistakes I make. I know that only someone truly noble can laugh at herself, and that I can find the strength that I need in that laughter.

Today, we laugh at the ridiculous aspects of our own lives, recognizing the strength and majesty we gain from that laughter.

Counting the Omer – Day 43

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty three, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shalosh she hem shisha shavuot ve yom ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Malkhut, kindness within majesty, giving within nobility.

Today, I try to see the other as a reflection of self. I recognize that other people are not alien creatures from Mars, but people with needs and wishes, desires and hopes similar to my own. I use that recognition to see others as noble – worthy of respect and honour. I realize that when I’m with others, we are a group of people that can be described as nobility – not because we’re better than anyone else but because we have that responsibility – to do more, to think kinder, to work harder. Being noble, embodying Malkhut – to me that means working extra hard and holding more than I would otherwise, and when I recognize that others have burdens and responsibilities no lighter than my own and often heavier, then I can truly treat them with kindness.

Today, we recognize that others have challenges that are just as great and maybe greater than our own, and we treat them with kindness.

Counting the Omer – Day 42

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty two, which is six weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shtayim she hem shisha shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Yesod, majesty within sexuality, nobility within intimacy.

I end up thinking of the king from Le Petit Prince on this one. He gave people the orders that he thought they’d obey so that they would obey him. He was right in that there was no point ordering someone to do something they don’t want to do – that would lead to disobedience and to breaking the relationship. But his way didn’t work all that well either. At some point , everyone wanted to leave, and so he ordered them to leave. They did and he was very lonely.  Sometimes, in close relationships, we give people what they want. Sometimes we have to ask for our own needs to be made. It’s a tricky balance to be a noble, a holy person in a relationship. Occasionally we might even end up alone, like the kind. However, if both people are practicing Malkhut be Yesod, sometimes, that balance can create the beautiful relationship in which both sides do what the other wants, not because of orders but because that is what makes both happiest.

Today, we do something because we know that another person would like it, without any orders being given

Counting the Omer – Day 41

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty one, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve ehad she hem hamisha shavuot ve shisha yammim  laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Yesod, sexuality within sexuality, intimacy within intimacy.

Sexuality? Why sexuality? Can’t you have intimacy without sex? Well, of course you can. You can also make very tasty sugar free cakes! Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that cakes are primarily a dessert, and that sugar is an important and  according to many, essential ingredient. So, it is this way with intimacy as well. The physical touch is an important part of intimacy. Children need hugs and holding, friends need hugs and sometimes, back-rubs, and beloveds need, yes, they do, sex. Having that sexual connection strengthens the relationship, can form a new one, or can break them. We can deny it if we want but sexuality is a big part of who we are as human beings and we may as well celebrate it.

Today, we remember that intimacy includes the physical, and literally reach out to touch someone.

Counting the Omer – Day 40

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim she hem hamisha shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Yesod, gratitude within sexuality, humility within intimacy

It isn’t a place one should need to be grateful. Grateful for affection? For intimacy? There’s a broken-ness to that, suggesting a paucity of love. That’s with my head though, the first thought that comes to my mind. I can do better. I remember that feeling of gratitude for the existence of some of the people in my life – that feeling where I looked at them and thought “I can’t believe how lucky I am.” That’s a gratitude that comes from the humility that love brings on, the understanding that I am flawed (as is my beloved) and that my beloved is amazing (as am I) and that I am very lucky to have found someone who continues to love me nevertheless. That gratitude springs up in my heart naturally and easily, and it doesn’t require thinking. That gratitude is resentment free and beautifully simple.

Today, we remind ourselves how lucky we are to have the amazing people we have in our lives.