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.
Do you know what true nobility is within an intimate situation? Keeping promises. Because when the feelings are high and the need for satisfaction great, one may say things. One may come up with promises about continuity, exclusivity, love – anything really. The question is, what are these promises worth? Because if first thing the next day you break them and instead of being there, and staying exclusive and offering love, you say “well, those promises made sense in the past but they’re not who I am now” then you are a churl, not a noble person. You have shown that you’re not a person of your word. Do that often enough and no one will believe you and you might find yourself without any intimacy whatsoever. There’s a song that takes this to the nth degree, “Paradise by the Dashboard light” by Meatloaf. And you can say, “far better they break their promise”. You may be right. It’s not for nothing we nullify all vows on Yom Kippur. But the power of Kol Nidre is that breaking vows must be the exception, not the rule – something that happens in those odd situations when despite every desire on your part, the promise cannot be kept. That nth degree in the song, for example. Most of the time, however – promises are not made to be broken, they’re meant to be kept as hard as possible.
Today, I keep my promises. I know that intimacy requires that.
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.
Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheynu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’zivanu al s’firat haOmer.
Blessed be the Eternal God, Ruler of the universe, who makes us holy through Mitzvot and has commanded us to count the Omer.
Hayom yom arbaim ve ehad laOmer, shehem hamisha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.
Today is day forty one of the Omer, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer.
yesod be yesod – intimacy within intimacy; love within love; relationship within relationship
You just can’t write “do not commit adultery” in a set of commandments meant to be understood for kids. And it’s a fun commandment to explore in a time when some marriages are more open than others, and where some people have definitions of adultery that may not match those in the dictionary. However, it’s easy to understand “keeping promises”. Kids know what that’s about – but sometimes, as adults, we forget.
We don’t always even realize we’ve made promises – and in a casual relationship, maybe we haven’t. In intimate relationships, though, casual words have an effect. “I find you attractive” is far from a promise. When said to a cute acquaintance, it can be easily forgotten later. When said to a friend, in a relationship, however – it changes things. Expectations arise, for better or for worse, and the relationship is never the same. A promise has been effectively made. Of course, the attraction may not work out. It will feel like a commitment is broken, however. It will cause a rift in intimacy that will take time to heal.
“Maybe later,” we say to a child, casually, thinking nothing of it but wanting to avoid the screaming fit that a no might lead to. For the child who loves her parent very very much that casual remark was a promise and when it doesn’t happen, a promise that leads to heartbreak.
When we recognise that in intimate relationships, the words we say are promises of action, when we keep our promises, even though we didn’t entirely mean them when we said them, when we let people know that we are safe to trust and depend upon, then we build intimacy within intimacy and make our relationships stronger – and more holy.