Category Archives: Iyar

Omer 21

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-one which is three weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve ehad she hem shlosha shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Tiferet, dignity within beauty, nobility within harmony.

So there’s a story about a small Shul. It’s broken down, old, no one goes any more. There are 6 elderly Jews left, and whether it’s Pinchas complaining about how much work there is or Sura chirping about her grandchildren, none of them are all that focused on faith any more. Finally, Rabbi Shmuel knows there’s a problem so he goes to see a wise Rebbe in a distant place. When he finally reaches there, the Rebbe is no help. “I really don’t know what to tell you,” says the Rebbe. “But you know what – I’ll let you know what my deep spiritual insight has discovered. One of you is the Messiah. You don’t even know it yourselves yet, but there it is”

Well, Rabbi Shmuel hurries home and tells this to his congregation. Everyone is confused. Who could it be? Not Devorah who was frankly, too old and thin and ill all the time, surely? Not Moyshe who was much more focused on his back than on his prayers? Not Rachel! She was hardly ever there! But what if it was? It could be!  Rabbi Shmuel? Sure he was forgetful and scattered, but he did know a lot about Torah…

Moyshe was just about to complain to Pinchas about his back when he thought “the Moshiach wouldn’t complain about backs!”. Pinchas was almost ready to tell Surah to talk about anything other than her grandkids when he thought, “what if She’s the Moshiach – those are the Moshiach’s grandchildren. They’d be pretty important.” He listened attentively. “Hmm,” thought Surah, “he listens so well. Maybe he’s the Messiah. He has a lot to do for a Messiah. Maybe I could help”. She set up some chairs and that Shabbat, brough a kugel to kiddush. Devorah settled in with a nice cosy smile. Delicious. And Rachel, who was there on one of her random visits was so impressed that she came the next week!

Gradually, as the six treated each other nicer, prayed with more kavanah and were more thoughtful in their own behaviours, more people came to shul. It started with Rachel, and then Surah actually brought her grandchildren, and then Pinchas brought his, and they had such a good time that their parents came the next week.  There were more people all the time, and the Shul grew and brightened. Thoughtfully, Moyshe hung a plaque that said “the Moshiach’s Shul” and this became the new title and attracted more people yet.

One day the Rebbe heard ot this Shul and decided to see it. “Well,” he said to Rabbi Shmuel, “did you figure out which one of you is the Moshiach?” “The Moshiach??” Said Rabbi Shmuel. “Who has time for that? Our Deborah sisterhood is starting up, our shool needs a new teacher, I hve a lunch planned for Sunday and Wednesday and our Torah sudy is booked for at least three months ahead. I’m not going to worry about the Moshiach! But really, Rebbe, is one of us the Moshiach?” “Well,” said the Rabbi, “the six of you saved something! You saved a Shul. And if saving a Jewish soul is like saving a world – then saving this shul is saving the universe.”

What would I be like if I was the Moshiach? Would I be more careful about that stain on my shirt? Would I avoid sarcasm more and worry less and work just a tiny bit harder? What if my friend was the Moshiach? Would I be more likely to call him up or to do that small favour for him? If I saw everyone as noble – as a Moshiach, a leader of leaders, would I be kinder? Because if I was – that would be beautiful. That would be majesty inside of harmony and nobility – nobility in the everyday.

Today, I recognize beauty and harmony when I see it – in evry face I see, including the one in the mirror. After all, any of us could be the messiah.

Advertisements

Omer 22

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-two which is three weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shtayim she hem shlosha shavuot vey om ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Netzakh, kindness within power, love within victory.

So, I was on the internet today, reading about the tragedy happening in Gaza and Israel and read the following depressing exchange: “kids were killed – do you think it right to have snipers shoot kids?” “do you think it’s right to bring kids to a riot”, “Do you think it right to have snipers shoot kids?” “well, DO you think it right to bring kids to a riot?” “You haven’t answered my question” “You haven’t answered mine!” “You’re just a heartless self-righteous jerk who doesn’t care about kids!” “You’re just a rude, uninformed, ruthless, idiot who wants kids to die!” – this actually went on and on, and I was thinking – yup, that’s the Middle East. Somewhere, that scorpion is still stinging that tortoise, and they both still die.

(Story: scorpion asks tortoise for lift across Jordan, tortoise says no, as doesn’t want to be stung, scorpion says that would be silly as they’s both die, tortoise agres, scorpion stings tortoise midway across, when asked why answers – this is the Middle East.)

It made me sad. You see, the answers to their questions were obvious. No, it is not OK for snipers to shoot kids. No, it is not OK to bring kids to riots. Yes, there are probably other ways to deal with rioters than just by shooting them. Yes, there are probably other ways to protest injustice than through a riot where you’re told that you’re going to get shot. Yes, you should ferry the scorpion over. No, you should certainly not sting the tortoise.

The answers weren’t hard. What was hard was the khesed. When one is angry and resentful, the thing that doesn’t come easily is acceptance and trust. One starts plotting retaliation and revenge, and that leads to the other side being angry and resentful and that leads to more retaliation and revenge and it doesn’t get better. In fact, it gets worse. It gets Middle East. Even if one side wins, without kindness, that win is a hollow one, as there is more anger and more injustice and more riots and more snipers, and more dead children.

How to respond with Khesed? How to refuse anger? Now, that’s hard. But if you manage it – that’s victory.

Today, I win when I refuse resentment and revenge as a way of dealing with the world. Today I win when I chose kindness instead.

Omer 20

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 which is two weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim she hem shtey shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Tiferet, connection within beauty, intimacy within grace.

How can I connect to those around me? One way is through loveliness. Now, I am not always lovely – but the more I see myself as beautiful, the more I work to look and sound and feel full of grace and beauty, the more likely it is that I’ll be someone desireable for others to connect to. Today, I focus on ways I can embody the beauty of this world, whether that is through my appearance, or through my actions and words, and the kindness and closeness I embody and the harmony and grace I exhibit. When I do so, connections and intimacy simply happen, as is their nature.

Today, I project the beauty in my world and I embody it to build connection.

Omer 19

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 nineteen which is two weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom tisha-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Tiferet, gratitude within beauty, humility within grace.

I am grateful for the beauty I have been offered, in this lovely world. I find the beauty in everything I see and touch today. How can I best express my gratitude? I can spend my time trying to add to the beauty. Whether through planting or singing, praying or playing piano, caring for my friends or caring for the someone in the community, I can try to make the world more beautiful. When I do, others respond with gratitude – and with attempts to create beauty. Just through gratitude for what there clearly is, we can add to the loveliness of our beautiful world. That’s pretty fantastic.

Today, I am grateful for the beauty that surrounds me. I express my gratitude by helping the world to be even more beautiful..

Omer 36

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 six, which is five weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve sesh she hem hamisha shavuot ve yom ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Yesod, kindness within sexuality, grace within intimacy

When I am close to someone, I am open. I am vulnerable to them being able to hurt me. I get hurt amazingly easily, it seems. (Not physically – I’ve walked into walls, got huge bruises and not even noticed – but my feelings? Super fragile.) And if I get hurt, I put up walls. I don’t bother with cute little velvet-rope boundaries. I put up great big tall spikes pointing out walls and do what I can to not be hurt again. Except that I really like intimacy, so at the suggestion that some is available, I drop my walls and there I am again, open to being hurt with no protection whatsoever.

As with many things, the black and white approach is the wrong approach. Kindness within intimacy might involve recognizing that vulnerability within myself and granting it more slowly. It also means recognizing that vulnerability when others show it (not something I do very well) and protecting it as much as possible (something I do much better.)  I need to accept that sometimes, boundaries have to be tentative and partial and gentle and slow – and vulnerabilities have to be tentative and partial and gentle and slow, and both can work together to build the intimacy I want.

Today, I am kind to others who show vulnerability and I am kind to myself when I get hurt.

Omer 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 leadership.

Today is the discipline day. One can’t lead a group or teach a class or even play a board game without rules. Rules are an essential part of life because they add structure and meaning to the nonsense that would otherwise emerge. Sure, there is a place for nonsense, but only after we follow the rules and know which ones can be broken. Unless we want to have those million monkeys on a million typewriters typing for a million years, rules are probably a better way most of the time to write, to draw, to dance, to play with others, to cook, and to teach. So they need to be enforced. Of course, the hardest form of discipline is saying “no” to oneself. That’s what we have to do to get many of our things done – follow the rules we had set for ourselves.

Rules – discipline – requirements are stressful. They make us anxious. They make us want to hide. The hardest rule for me to follow is the basic one that “if you don’t get up and go, you won’t get there, and if you don’t start a job you won’t finish it.” My mind plays tricks on me – it says, “if you don’t get up now, you can always start a little later…” or “if you don’t go, then you won’t do the job badly but if you try…” or “you’ve done so much on so many things, you can take a break now before starting that one…” or “you still have time…” These are all lies. The truth is that I have no time, I deserve success more than I deserve a break and I will do worst of all if I don’t start.

Today, I start something I’ve been putting off. Self-discipline is a big part of leadership.

Omer 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, grace within leadership.

Whoa, last week! That has gone fast! We are almost done (I mean, I still have a bunch to catch up on, but almost done here!)  And today is a teacher’s day. It’s the Malkhut week – and a ruler, at least in Jewish tradition, is a guide, a leader and a teacher. At least, God is when God acts from “Malkhut”, and all other rulers strive to be more god-like.  A teacher has to be a leader, has to show that she is in charge, capable, successful. She has to lead by example, by discipline, by enticement, by those quiet, secret ways that good leaders encourage others to do the right thing without anyone noticing. To do so, a true teacher is kind. She thinks daily how she can give her students all they need, and correct them and guide them in a kind manner. All of us have moments when we need to be kind leaders, and Malkhut gives us that opportunity.

Today, I will continue to lead. I will do so with kindness.

Omer 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 community, nobility within intimacy.

Today, we remind ourselves and each other that we are unique. The Yesod connection with each other and with God that we form is supposed to be our way of being most ourselves, a way to reveal the truths of who we really are in safety. But often, due to politeness, due to fear of losing what we have, due to simple laziness, we let ourselves get overwhelmed and our own individual needs, desires, and strengths get overwhelmed by the community we are in. This might be fine with Yesod (at least in the short term,) but it destroys the Malkhut that Yesod is supposed to bring. We are meant to exhibit majesty, to be holy, to pour forth God’s light. To do that we need to know who we are and be who we are, even if that offends someone.

Today, I remember that relationships are meant to strengthen individual traits not drown them out. I work hard to make sure I am neither overwhelmed nor overwhelming in my relationships.

Omer 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.

What lies within intimacy? Knowledge. Understanding. Meaning. That’s why the Torah keeps saying “And he knew her and she had a child”. Sex is synonymous to knowledge in the Torah. If we know someone else – know what they like or dislike, know what makes them happy or sad, know what they’re likely to say or think about a particular situation – then they are a person of our family. If we don’t know somewone, then they’re not even if sex is involved – they’re just bedroom buddies and that’s lovely, but it isn’t intimacy. That connection does go both ways. Touching another – deeply and closely – that’s intimacy. It builds knowledge and understanding. So, the best scenario is when both are involved – Both knowledge and intimacy need to play a part in making family. This day is a chance to examine relationships and see if they are intimate on both levels and if they offer the opportunity to increase intimacy.

Today, I think about the people close to me. Do I know them well? Can I know them better? Can we build intimacy?

Omer 37

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 seven, which is five weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve sheva she hem hamisha shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Yesod, strength within family, might within community

You know, it’s a cliché that the pen is mightier than the sword. But unpacking that cliché one might find that one is comparing the ability of communication to achieve. One might realize that connections – a family working together, a community that knows each other – those are powerful. They allow for successes that weren’t there before and for answers to difficult situations. They allow us to access help when needed and to discover the strengths that we can offer. Communication – written with a pen or typed or what have you – is more powerful because it builds connection than a sword, which can only destroy people, trust, relationships – the connection so built.

Today, we use our strength to build connection, not destroy it. Communication is mightier.