Category Archives: Nissan

Omer Count – Day 3

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 three of the Omer. Hayom yom shlishi laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Khesed, beauty within kindness, grace within love.

I need to be kind to myself. I pushed myself pretty hard to complete these Omer posts – and this is the last of 49 mini-essays, ranging from a paragraph to a page, that I have written in the last 49 days. I am sleepy and my room is a mess and I’m a bit behind on the marking. (Only a bit – I’m not that bad at putting kids first.) I am grateful to God, to myself, and to all the people who put up with me being less than all there while I did these counts. Sometimes, I don’t know why I write them. It just seems like the right thing to do.

And it’s beautiful. It’s amazingly beautiful. I know this seems self-serving and prideful, but I don’t care. Given how busy I was, given that I hadn’t done it for a bunch of days – the fact that I caught up and did them all? That’s lovely.

But now I need to place that beauty into a context of kindness. I need to work to repay all the kindness shown to me while I’ve been writing these, and I need to be kind to myself – to once again take on my exercise routine and to catch up on sleep and the dishes.

Beauty within kindness – where I accomplish the goals I have in the context of maintaining myself and my health – that’s my goal for the next two months. (At which point I try to complete the Elul blog and it all goes to hell in a handbasket once again.

Today, I celebrate the beauty of 49 Omer posts nicely written. I remember to be kind to myself when I do this in the future.

Omer Count – Day 4

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 four of the Omer. Hayom yom revyi laOmer.

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

So, someone promised you a gift. At least, you’re pretty sure they promised you a gift. A bracelet, say, that would signify the depth of your relationship, one that is special and beautiful and important not just in itself, but in the meanings that every aspect of it carries. The two of you have known each other for a long time, you have a lot of shared memories and a lot of future plans together. You’ve talked about this bracelet a lot and you helped pick it out. You made sure it was gold because that’s worth more and you have a mild allergy to silver, you know the meaning of each gemstone in the bracelet – this one for strength and that one for celebration and this other one because it’s a birth stone. You know why it’s important and with your special day (birthday? Valentines day? New Year’s Eve?) coming up, you are ready to receive the gift.

That’s when they tell you that they’re hoping you’ll help them wrap that bracelet, in time for that special day, because it’s for So & so who is very special to them. It’s lucky they have such a good friend as you, because you helped pick the perfect gift and isn’t it good that you picked gold because did you know, So & so is allergic to silver! Your heart breaks.

Victory in kindness is when, very very slowly, you smile, say “sure” and proceed to beautifully wrap that bracelet.

Today, I hope to meet misunderstandings with grace. I win when I am kind despite disappointment.

Omer Count – Day 2

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 the day two of the Omer. Hayom yom sheni laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Khesed, strength within love, might within kindness.

So, yes, I should have written this a long time ago, but I didn’t and it’s mother’s day. But how appropriate is that! Strength within love is pretty much right there under mother in the dictionary. Today is the day I remember that both about my mother and my parents – who is extremely loving and very strong – and about me and my coparents too. Every parent has that moment, the one when they have a fever and a migraine and they’re lying in bed hoping the emergency throw-up bowl is not too far away, when someone begins screaming at them that they gave them the red cup and they really wanted the blue cup and would the parent fix that? All parents remember (with just a slight shudder) that somehow they pulled it together and managed to stand up, bleary eyed, and found that blue cup or (even harder, trust me) pulled their scattered brains together to give an excellent impromptu life lesson on the importance of thinking about others and the difference between glitches and problems.

Parents are never tired – not when doing the 3 am feeding or helping to complete the 3 am projects, nor when taking 2 bouncy kids for a day at work because it’s bring your kid to work day (or it isn’t but the school has PD and the care arrangements fell through and I still have those emergency pencil crayons somewhere right?) Parents always have the emergency pencil crayons, cleenex, bandaids, hairpins, baby wipes and blank paper in their ridiculously overstuffed purse-bag-things. Parents say “I did nothing today” when they spent the day cooking, cleaning, looking after a bunch of kids, shopping, taking people to appointments and slipping in a few loads of laundry and dishes when no one (seemingly) was looking. Parents feel guilty when they’re working because they should be at home with the kids, and when they’re hanging out with the kids because there’s so much to do.

Parents are incredible. And kind. And who knows how they pull it off. I’ve been faking parenthood for almost 24 years and I sure don’t know!

Today, I.am amazed by the strength and kindness of people with children. Wow.

Omer Count – Day 6

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 six of the Omer. Hayom yom shishi laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Khesed, transfer within love, foundation within generosity.

I looked up Yesod today, and it looks like there’s an association to foundation, to balance – but also to movement. It’s the engine room of the Kaballa. So, how can I be someone who uses that foundation and that movement to be generous. Frankly, engines – busyness, transitions, movement – they’re rarely my thing. I prefer the foundation side of yesod, the binding and connecting, the gathering and interweaving aspects. I’m not fast, and I don’t like change.

But in the context of kindness, when it’s for those around me, my engine can ignite. I can act with determination, decision and flexibility, getting done rapidly what otherwise seemed impossible. Suddenly, I’m ‘on’! True, I pay a price, in that I’m sometimes really tired once the people leave. True, it would be better if I could find a balance and be able to act for myself with the same ease I can act for others. Nevertheless, today, I will count it as a strength.

Today, I can connect, drive, act, build – be the foundation – through kindness.

Omer Count – Day 1

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 the first day of the Omer!

Today is the day of love within love, kindness within kindness.

I remember why we do what we do. We’re trying to do God’s will – be that write a blog post, mark a paper, fight in a battle or avoid one. The challenge is knowing what God’s will is – and I think today gives some insight. It is love within love and kindness within kindness that the Omer starts with. Clearly, God thinks it’s an important thing, love. God must set some store by kindness or it wouldn’t be first on the list. So, I think it’s pretty clear that God needs – among all the strength and might, the conquest and dominion, the intimacy and beauty that is to come – God needs us to care. And if we do God’s will? Our path is smoother. There are answers that weren’t there before. We see ways through hitherto impenetrable jungles.

Today, I will use kindness and love to show me the way. Even if it makes no sense to do so – I will try to be kind because that is God’s will.

Omer Count – Day 10

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 ten which is one week and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom eser she hem shavua ehad vey shlosha yamim laOmer.

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

Today I think about how good I feel after exercising. I love being strong and capable and getting through an exercise program. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m so out of shape that the average 10 year old can lift way more than me, run circles around me and laugh at my attempts to do a burpee. (What an evil invention burpees are!)  This doesn’t change the fact that I feel strong when I exercise – and beautiful.  Strength has its own inherent fierce beauty and I appreciate that energy. I commit to getting back to my exercise routine (excuses are never beautiful) because whether it’s holding a yoga pose or breaking a board – being strong is beautiful.

Today, I find beauty in my own strength, whatever it may be. I reach for that strength with all that I am.

Omer Count – Day 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 loveliness.

So, I end up thinking of spiderwebs. They are beautiful and quite strong. And my mind, which wanders easily, then ends up on nature and nature hikes and good things like that. Nature is beautiful. And extremely, as per all the fires, tsunamis, hurricanes and floods, strong. So, that leads my brain to skip to this article I read, which asks if a tiny fish is worth all these people’s jobs. And I was thinking, “yes, yes it is”. Because that random, non-descript fish is beautiful and wonderful and unique and if we lose it that will be depressing. And no, I don’t want to lose my job as a very highly paid professional math teacher (you may laugh now) but for the sake of that small fish, I would.

Of course, that led me to thinking about concervation and what I can do and politics. Because in this supposedly democratic country, I have the strength I need to effect change. So, hopefully, whether through my choices or my ballot, I can vote for that small fish, and the spiderwebs, and the hurricanes, and all the other parts of this world which, while sometimes being unappealing in their appearance or scary or overwhelming or even gross are still very very beautiful

Today, I use what strength I have to care for the beauty around me.

Omer Count – Day 9

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 nine which is one week and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom tesha she hem shavua ehad vey shtey yamim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Gevura, strength within strength, might within might.

Today, I am Anna Almighty! It is strength within strength day. I gird my loins, breathe in and do the next thing to be amazing. I am super-Anna. Able to leap mounds of paperwork in a single bound, faster than a skipping student, and capable of stopping a split class in its tracks with just one glare of my steely lazer eye, I am strong enough to be the teacher I have to be.

It’s funny – but some days, that’s all it takes. A firm determination and commitment to doing things better lets me succeed in ways I didn’t know I could and taps into an energy that didn’t exist prior. To me, that’s the God-touch in my life. With focus, I can access the divine energy within me, access the strength within strength.

Today, I have strength within strength to meet and beat any challenge that comes my way.

Omer Count – Day 15

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 fifteen which is two weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom hamesh-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve yom ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Tiferet, love within loveliness, kindness within beauty.

I don’t always see myself as beautiful. Often, when I look in the mirror, I see kind, funny loving, sweet – but not necessarily beautiful. In fact, beauty is often associated with cruelty in my mind. The White Witch in Narnia, and the Snow Queen in Hans Christian Anderson were beautiful and very nasty. So were the successful young ladies in my junior high school. So, beauty is not mega desirable in a person from my perspective.

Except when I drop society’s expectations of beauty and ask myself – what looks beautiful to me? Caring does. Laugh lines do. Love, kindness, my own reflection in someone’s eyes – someone who truly sees me, yes. That’s beautiful. And there’s no cruelty within that – in fact, that understanding of beauty is totally antithetical to cruelty and wouldn’t see a cruel person as beautiful anyway.

May I always look for the beauty that contains love, so that I can gain a true understanding of what looks good.

Today, I look for kindness and love in people – they are more beautiful that way.

Omer Count – Day 14

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 fourteen which is two weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arba-es’re she hem shtey shavuot laOmer.

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

Malkhut is a gift for me today, given by wide-eyed awkward teenagers. It’s kids who are putting up with half-time teaching saying “miss I hope it stays this way because you explain things well.”  I wasn’t born a princess and my prince never did come to marry me so that avenue to Malkhut is out. But I have strength. I can teach. I can take time out of each day to present something, to explain something, to open a young person’s eyes to a new idea – a new way of seeing the universe. Within my area of strength, I can inspire and teach and there, people learn and become and succeed. In this way, I have nobility. The more care I can give, the more they give me authority, and the more I can ask for them.

Today, I recognize that ‘teacher’ is a title of nobility, one that suits me better than ‘lady’ or ‘princess’, and one which is bestowed and earned rather than random. It is what I am granted when I embrace my strength with love