Monthly Archives: April 2018

Omer 18

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 eighteen which is two weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom shmona-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Tiferet, power within beauty, conquest within grace.

Sometimes, one just doesn’t feel beautiful. One has come in from a long day of doing something and one feels like yuck and one just doesn’t care how one looks but suspects it’s probably not very pretty. And oddly – it makes one feel less capable, less powerful.

Then, there are other days, when one looks in the mirror and says, “I am beautiful”, and even if one looks exactly the same on both days, one suddenly feels beautiful, attractive, and so more powerful. Those words, applied to a person can make a huge difference. They turn around what beauty is and allow the beauty that people think or feel they have to shine through.

It isn’t easy to project looking good over the course of a day – people use makeup or special hairstyles, stylish outfits and nice shoes to do so. But the underlying secret remains to know that one is beautiful and let that beauty be in charge.

Today, I acknowledge that I too can be beautiful and access that power.

Omer 30

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 thirty which is four weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim she hem arba’a shavuot vey shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevurah be Hod, strength within gratitude, might within thanksgiving.

Gratitude grants strength. No, seriously. Saying thank you for something, helps me to acknowledge the universe, and helps me to recognize my place in it and the ways in which others contribute to my success. That’s fantastic. I can do more knowing where I need to act and where others can fill in and I can keep working on the various things I need to do to help others. That network, that support is essential to building community – and I work better in community. Helping others and gratefully accepting that help is one of the best ways for people to connect. If that’s dysfunctional – relationships break down and struggle. When I remember to be grateful, I get to be part of a strong community and I know my role and my place within it.

Today, I know that by being grateful, I get the strength of living rightly in community with others.

Omer 29

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 twenty-nine which is four weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve tesha she hem arba’a shavuot vey om ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Hod, kindness within gratitude, grace within humility

Oh, goodness this one should be easy. Why would it be hard to say thank you with kindness? But it is. Gratitude is oddly difficult – because it exposes weakness – the fact that I needed to ask for help. I don’t like knowing that I needed to ask for help! I want to be perfect (as my kid would say: spoiler alert: I’m not.) So, when someone does the jobs I’m supposed to do because I’ve been time wasting or I’ve over scheduled, I have to be grateful and loving about it. I have to remember that their help came from love and kindness and accept it without resentment, even if the assistance comes with a dig at my capabilities. It’s a hard challenge – but an important one.

Today, I am grateful to those who help me, however hard that may be to accept, and I am kind in expressing that gratitude.

Omer 28

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 twenty-eight which is four weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shmone she hem arba’a shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Netzakh, majesty within power, nobility within victory

Today is a good day to recognize my power. I am very powerful, and only by acknowledging that can I act nobly from this place. As a partner, as a parent, as a teacher – I have the power to change a person’s life. If I am petty and use that power to carp and complain, I lose the chance to be noble. It’s not true majesty to ignore my tasks either – a ruler does her share, if she is to be a good one. There’s many ways I can use my power nobly. I can stay focused, stay cheerful, stay polite. This ties in to being “chosen” by God. What does it mean to be chosen? It means God pointed to me (among many other people – I’m not selfish with this) and said “you – you there – stay on task. You have power. Use it well. Use it wisely. Use it nobly.”

Today, I remember that I have power, and that it is my responsibility to try to use it nobly.

Omer 27

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 twenty-seven which is three weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve sheva she hem shlosha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Netzakh, family within power, intimacy within victory.

Family within power, huh? You know when intimacy is possible? When each person is both strong and weak. It’s this weird balance of being strong enough to know your needs and those of your family, know how to care for them and how to make it all work and being weak enough (or maybe it’s another form of strength) to accept the care of others. If that balance Is lost – if someone doesn’t need to be cared for, if someone is unable to give the right kind of care, if someone can’t ask or ask correctly for her needs – then intimacy is lost and caring is impossible. When the balance is there – well that’s truly a victory for family and intimacy.

Today, I win when I care for others and accept their care.

Omer 17

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 seventeen which is two weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom sheva-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Tiferet, beauty within beauty, grace within grace.

Today, I think of home. Sometimes, the most beautiful thing imaginable is home. And home is different for different people. For some people, it’s the decorative possibilities – a home can be made truly beautiful, full of nice things that have been put exactly where I like them to be. That is a home that can be really beautiful. For others, home is a balancing act of compromise and relationship – knowing that they have put the spoon away exactly where their partner needs it to go. The decorations are more eclectic and may include a bird’s nest in the fancy china cabinet, but they are lovely. For some, it’s clutter and cosiness, and the fact that someone loved is usually nearby or at least will be soon. For others, it’s the space and privacy that they crave, a place where they can truly be alone. For everyone, it’s a place of rightness and it’s a feeling of safety and security, knowing that there is an anchor to one’s life. That rightness, that feeling? That’s beautiful.

Today, I appreciate the beauty of home.

Omer 26

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 twenty-six which is three weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shesh she hem shlosha shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Netzakh, gratitude within power, humility within victory.

I am grateful for my wins. Looking at what I’ve written this week, it’s clear I’ve never won anything alone. When I teach – I win when my students do. When I write, I win when I’m writing with God’s inspiration. When I manage to learn about a course I know nothing about – that’s my family and friends making things possible for me by taking care of the stuff I don’t have time for. Anything I do, I know that the win isn’t mine alone. So to all of those who make my wins possible – I am grateful many times over. When I remember where my wins come from, I win still more – because I feel stronger and can accomplish more knowing that there are many behind me helping me more.

Today, I am grateful to all those that help me win.

Omer 25

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 twenty-five which is three weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve hamesh she hem shlosha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Netzakh, power within power, victory within victory.

Power within power – that’s the power to do anything at all. I can do anything I chose, you know. It’s a matter of what I put into it. So, I teach courses with materials I’m totally unprepared for, and claim I know things I have no clue about. I dig into myself and do 20 hours of work in 10. (Of course, the next few days are ones in which I can’t do anything – but I’m cool with these little costs…)

And where is my power? My power is in God. I know that sounds cheesy, but seriously, that’s where I have power. I can do anything if I’m doing God’s work. I can stay awake, I can write the next paragraph, I can solve puzzles and teach software – because God lets me. It’s one of these places where I’m thrilled with my religion. I could not do all this without God’s help – without the knowledge and success that God gives. But when I ground myself in faith, when I say “this must be done”, I get it done. (Sometimes – maintaining a connection to God 24-7 is way beyond my capabilities; but these hours that I do get – these are the ones that I need.)

Today, I win when I do what God wants me to do and reach for the power that this gives me.

Omer 24

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 twenty-four which is three weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve arba she hem shlosha shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Netzakh, beauty within power, grace within victory.

Today I hand in exam marks for students, and that is a great deal of power. It’s a matter of their whole entire future for them, who they can be and who they can become. They tell me about how that 1% will make the difference between getting into university and becoming a respected lawyer or being a homeless bum with no education. It feels like I have all the power. But I’m just the marker. I really can’t make them learn something they don’t want to learn. I can do a lot but I can’t make a person do their homework, study for a test, know more than they do. I can’t undo years of poor study or actual intellectual difficulties. There is a limit. At some point, I concede that I’ve done my part.

For many students, that’s that. I push, cajole, pray, suggest, advice, persuade, threaten, bribe, tease and otherwise try to get them to learn. They choose what they want to learn. I put in their marks. I have power, but it’s not very pretty. In some cases, though – magic happens. God intervenes. A student who couldn’t add suddenly puts in the extra work, askss the additional questions, approaches the test with a new look and suddenly – succeeds beyond either their expectations or mine.

Now, that’s a victory. That’s real power. That’s my changing an “I’m stupid” kid to one who can think, who can work, who can learn. It’s never my victory – like I said, mostly, it has little to do with me. It might be their parents, might be themselves – but when it happens, that feels like victory for all concerned. I know I’ve played a part in that success that I’ve helped to make this difference. I continue to do all I can, and I live for these victories. I feel that then, there’s beauty in victory – the beauty of helping someone else win.

Today, I win when I help others achieve victory and that’s beautiful.

Omer 16

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 sixteen which is two weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shesh-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Tiferet, strength within beauty, might within grace.

The thing with the Omer is it makes one think in weird ways. Beautiful things are rarely strong – the model is lithe and graceful, but she definitely does not body-build. The body builder is not supposed to be beautiful. (I mean, she’s gorgeous – but not everyone will agree with that). So today, I was thinking of strength within beauty and of course, being a math teacher, I thought of webs, lattices, crystals – all these things where patern makes beauty – but within that beauty is the strength of a patern. Spider webs, especially with the rain glistening on them, can be very beautiful (when they’re not being terrifying.), and given that they’re made out of spider silk – they’re pretty strong too. The pattern of a crystal is the lattice that holds it together. Judaism has that also – the pattern of tradition, of doing the next thing – that creates an inherent strength. Tradition’s beauty gets us engage with it, traditions’s strength is what gives us strength.

Today, I will appreciate the beauty of the traditions I have, and will draw strength from their repetition.