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#BlogElul – Elul 5

Elul 5 – Commit

I should be committed! For thinking I have enough time to get any of this done…which I don’t. We’re moving tomorrow. However, this is one thing I do. I do it every year. It has become a habit, now in its 6th year. I think it’s a good and necessary part of my life.  So, I make time for it – not a lot of time (I’m 3 days behind) but some. I find really tiny slivers of time and write one more line – put in one more concept and ideology.

Otherwise it doesn’t happen. You let something important to you go once, twice and all of a sudden it’s no longer a habit and you’re saying, “I used to do that back when…” It’s hard to maintain good habits – even if they seem routine, it takes work. And to do it when all is chaotic and crazy – that’s more than just work, that’s commitment.

I’ve always been committed to other people. If someone asks me to do something, I try to do it. If we have a regularly planned activity or outing, I try to participate. Doing my part in the flow of everyday is an important part of who I am. It’s been harder to commit to God – keeping up with prayer, with religious observance, with seeing and treating everyone as a reflection of the Divine – and I’ve had more trouble prioritizing that. Hardest of all has been committing to myself.

If there’s one place I need to do serious tshuva for, it’s the way I’ve treated myself. Basically, I either saw my body as a useful tool that did what I wanted, or an annoying piece of malfunctioning equipment that didn’t. I would never treat another person that way! (I know people who do.) So, I must not treat myself that way. Because the consequences have been dreadful. One’s body does not like poor treatment. It gets weaker and less functional. The heavy breathing, the lack of nicely fitting clothes, the difficulty moving, the difficulty sleeping – these all point to a body that needs help.

They make it less likely that I can meet my commitments to God and to others also. I can’t do as much with others if I’m always tired or unable to keep up. I can’t think about God if I’m busy thinking of a comfort or indulgence that will satisfy an incidental craving. Even a tool, to be useful, needs to be maintained. And my body is more than just a random meat sack which I can treat any way I want. In many ways, it’s who I am, it’s where I live. To continue the theme of the month, it’s the temple that houses my soul.

Caring for the physical is a very Jewish character trait. Judaism is extremely physical (I found) as a faith, and the idea is very much to have the body be a holy temple. Eating, sleeping, dressing – everything is supposed to be a holy task. That’s why most of them have prayers for before and after. Now, it’s my turn to do that – not just through adding prayer, but through mindful care for my body.

So, it’s time to commit. To find the time, to make it a priority, to do it for the sake of myself, for the sake of God, for the sake of other people. I commit to eating healthily this year, to fun physical activities, to changing my sleep cycles, to helping my body look good, feel good, and be a holy temple for my soul.

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Omer 39

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 nine, which is five weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve tesha she hem hamisha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Yesod, victory within sexuality, conquest within intimacy

The victory we need when it comes to sex is victory against society’s lies. Society tells us bodies are ugly. The only bodies allowed to be seen in public are unrealistic ones that have had certain attributes exaggerated for the sake of sales. Society tells us that our bodies are trying to bring us down because they are fat, or ungainly, or whatever it is that’s wrong with us. Society tells us that the smells our bodies produce are disgusting, and that we need to rid ourselves of them. Most of these messages aren’t said out loud. They’re just there. So, our victory is to recognize them, to fight them, to reject them and to affirm: our bodies are good, beautiful, important and exciting.

Today, I remember that my body is good, beautiful, important and exciting. Appreciating my body is a victory against society’s dictates.

Omer 38

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 eight, which is five weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve shmone she hem hamisha shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Yesod, beauty within sexuality, loveliness within intimacy

You know, there are two ways to look at everything. From one side, sex and everything about it is disgusting. It often smells funny, and it is associated with private parts and some of it is in the same area as we eliminate, and it’s not something we do in public or even talk about. It’s gross and that’s all there is to it. On the other hand, it is a way to bridge the gap between person to person, to have our bodies participate in acts of sharing and creation which bond our minds and hearts together. It is a beautiful way to relate to each other and to build connection. When done right, we call it making love, because that is what we are making or building. But it’s entirely in how one chooses to look at it.

Today, I choose to see intimacy as beautiful, not ugly.