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Omer 47

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 seven, which is six weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve sheva she hem shisha shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Malkhut, gratitude within majesty, humility within nobility.

Today is my day to say thank you once again. Nobility – Majesty – these are impossible on one’s own. You can’t be a teacher without students, a parent without children, a rurler without subjects. Nobility only exisis in relationship and the part we play is defined at least somewhat by the parts other people play. So, today I say thank you – to all the kids who still ask my opinion, to all the students who didn’t drop my class to all the readers who made it through another slightly drippy Omer post (some of them have been drippy – sorry), to all of you – thanks. That I have sparks of nobility is due to you.

Today, I express thanks for those who support my nobility. I try to acknowledge and support theirs.

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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 40

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, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim she hem hamisha shavuot ve hamisha yammim  laOmer.

Today is Hod be Yesod, gratitude within sexuality, thankfulness within intimacy

Oh, I don’t think so! When the parents are controlling, the kids are disrespectful and the partner is doing things in exactly the way that I don’t like, the last thing I want to do is be grateful. It’s going to have to be some very, very special persuasion that causes me to say thank you – or, hey, anything good – on days like those. I don’t feel like expressing gratitude and so, I don’t. This negative mood and attitude totally shows – and is totally ugly. People respond in kind, and it leads to more controlling parents, disrespectful kids and contrary partner.  This is a feedback look – and those aren’t good things, sometimes leading to disasterin a situation like that.

How can I break this loop? The day has insight. Today, I’m going to have to put my irritation aside. I’m going to need to say “good thing I have kids that complain because some peope are childless and super about it”.  “I’m glad I have controlling, parents because many of the parents of my peers are passing away”, and I’m glad my partner is acting in that irritating manner because it is good to have a partner who cares enough to say something.

Gratitude helps. It helps me refocus on the positive aspects of the situation, helps me to see others in a more positive way, and helps me to act in a more positive manner. This causes others to respond more positively and suddenly I have more reason yet to think of positive thngs they do that Iead to gratitude. Hmmm…that feedback loop seems way more useful!

Today, I remember to be grateful for family. I know it will lead to greater intimacy.

Omer 34

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 four, which is four weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve arba she hem arba’a shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Hod, intimacy within gratitude, community within thankfulness

There’s a story about a man who never gave charity. Never. No matter what anyone said or did, no matter that he was quite well off, and others were somewhat poor, no matter that the kindest, greatest most important rabbis would come and ask for large sums to help the poorest of men, he would still say no. One day, the town desperately needed tzedaka, and a great holy Rabbi was visiting. He took with him two other rabbis and they went to see the miser. Of course the miser didn’t give anything, but the Rabbi was extremely gracious, thanking him for his time and his kind words. As they were leaving, the rich man offered to help out – with a penny! The Rabbi was even more kind in his praise and expressions of gratitude. Again, as the Rabbi was leaving the rich man offered a bigger sum. This was repeated three more times, until the Rabbi left with exactly the sum so desperately required. The Rabbi’s friends wondered how he had accomplished this. He pointed out that the man had never felt the joy of giving because no one had ever accepted his gifts. That joy opened his heart and the rich man wanted to feel it more and so gave more.

So, giving. And gratitude. Today two interesting things happened. First, I saw an article in the paper, presenting the perfidy of men and their inability to think of what needs to be done, and thus, to do it. “He might clear the table,” the article said, “but he’d never think to wipe it, never mind also loading the dishwasher and running it!” Also, I got a call from a friend complaining about her husband. “I had to remind him to do the laundry!” she said. “He’d never think of it on his own, he’d just let the dirty laundry pile up. And tonight he’s making dinner, and he probably hasn’t planned anything or bought any groceries.” They sounded awfully similar. And they shocked me a bit.

“Let me get this straight.” I asked my friend. “Your husband is doing the laundry, after a reminder. He’s making dinner tonight. What else has he done today?”

“Well, he drove me to a doctor’s appointment – I hate driving. Then he did his paperwork while I did mine. He took a nap. In the evening, after dinner, we’re going to a friend’s house.”

So, this man cheerfully spent the day doing useful and necessary and kind things. He did the laundry, he did something kind – drive his wife, he’ll be making dinner, he is keeping up with his financial responsibilities by doing his paperwork, he’s managing social obligations, and he’s even taking care of his physical well being. The only thanks he’s going to get is that he should have taken less time napping, should have remembered the laundry himself, should have planned better for dinner, should have … Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m sue he could have remembered the laundry and pre-planned dinner. It would have been better yet. Still, shoulds don’t get one very far.

They don’t get the table wiped, they don’t get the laundry hung, they don’t solve the town’s tzedakah problem. Thanks – thanks are magic. Not that they’ll make the husband remember any better, or work any faster or be better able to take care of the details his wife really want him to. But they’ll ensure that next week, when she asks him to do the laundry, he’ll cheerfully do it again, and not snarl at her from in front of his favourite ball game.

What, you say? That’s not your job? not your priority? You’d, in fact, rather spend the extra 30 minutes doing it yourself than reminding him? At least then you know you’ll have done it right! No problem – but then, you could probably expect that he, like the miser in the story will give absolutely nothing. And then – you will see no reason to be together if you give each other nothing. That can get somewhat lonely.

Oh, I’m not saying put up with anything a person does and be grateful it doesn’t involve hitting you! I’m just saying that sometimes, thanks can build. They can build up a person. They can build relationships. They can lay the foundation for finding a joy in giving.

Today, I try to thank those I want to have close to me for what they do, even if I could have done it way better way faster myself. I build relationship through gratitude.

Omer 35

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 five, which is five weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve hamesh she hem hamisha shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Hod, nobility within gratitude, majesty within humility

So, do you casually slap people in the face? I’m just asking. It’s an easy thing to do. People are clumsy and put their foot in their mouths. They say things like “honey, don’t you think you ought to put away that laundry” when you’re clearly in the middle of another task or “what are you guys talking about?” when it’s a conversation that doesn’t involve them at all or “wow that’s taking you a long time” when they, themselves, are super-slow. These innocent statements are not harmfully meant but they can be pretty odd behaviour in some situations. And so of course you’re annoyed. You don’t have time to take care of others – especially not grown-ups who are big enough to wipe their own backsides, and who should know better. So, you answer with appropriate sarcasm. You say, “Why, are you going to suddenly start doing the laundry?” or “It’s not connected to you” or “You would know…”. Your responses are perfectly appropriate and even, on some level, clever and maybe funny.

To the person you just said them to, however, they’re a slap. They say “you don’t have the right to an opinion or interest in this matter. You shouldn’t talk. You aren’t good enough to participate, and you make more work than you’re worth. It would be best if you went away. Far away.” Now, that might be exactly what you’re trying to say – in which case the slap was intentional and you’re just the kind of person that doesn’t mind slapping people. In that case, I have nothing to say to you. Really. Nothing. Or you might just be trying to say, “hey, I’m tired and I’ve got a lot to deal with and I don’t have room for one more person.” In that case, your slap is unintentional, and that’s OK. We all shove people out of the way when we’re in a rush, especially if we’re tired and overwhelmed and they’re being clumsy and annoying. In that case, the slap is unintentional – and probably worth a quick sorry if you notice it.

So, what does any of this have to do with gratitude? It has to do with what I think when someone is stupid or clumsy around me.  I can think of myself – or I can take the noble and coincidentally, humble, approach of perspective taking. I can quietly say in my mind, “I’m glad I’m not clumsy and awkward enough to have just stuck my foot in my mouth. I am grateful for skills I have – and I’m grateful for this person and their participation in my life however awkward it might be.” With this attitude, I can respond better. I can say “putting away the laundry next after this” or “what do you think” or “yup, this is taking me a long time, isn’t it”.

Suddenly, a situation in which sometimes there would be a casual slap has become one where there is a connection built, a gratitude for the world expressed, a recognition of my place and that of others made. That’s what true nobility would look like, in my mind.

Today, I am noble when I refuse to slap and express gratitude for my abilities and for others as well.

Omer 33

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

Today is Hod be Hod, gratitude within gratitude, thankfulness within thankfulness

It’s Lag BaOmer, and to celebrate gratitude within gratitude with build bonfires, shoot arrows, and tell stories. What, this makes no sense? You are not alone.

OK, so this is mystical stuff. No, seriously. Picture yourselves thousands of years back. Bar Kochba is your leader. Many think he’s the Messiah. His fight is going super-well! He’s winning against the Romans. There are lots of people joining him, and Rome is beginning to notice. This might be it. Then, all of a sudden, things change. There are betrayals and executions, death and despair. The tide of the war turns, and all seems lost. This is such a crash from the former high that people aren’t sure how they will survive. The Romans aren’t interested in them surviving either. The Romans are killing everyone. All seems lost.

Suddenly, there’s a message of hope from within a cave – if we can go inside ourselves, if we can find gratitude within gratitude, if we can penetrate the veil of all that is, we can excel. We can succeed in finding a way to not only survive, but also prosper and become the people God wanted us to be. Maybe we can summon the Messiah. It’s mystical and magical and confusing and fire is involved but most importantly – there’s the hope, and the need for gratitude for what we still have.

So, we celebrate the finding of hope when there was none, and the opportunity to try again when all seemed lost. It’s hard to be grateful in these situations, but clearly – necessary. Today, we look for gratitude within gratitude, which sounds mystical, but probably just means to enjoy the mess that is life, no matter how messy it gets.

Today, I am grateful for the existence of gratitude. It’s just a meta sort of day.

Omer 32

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 two, which is four weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve shtayim she hem arba’a shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Hod, victory within gratitude, conquest within humility

I am not always grateful. Then again, life is not always a bed of roses. Sometimes, life is annoying, painful, irritating, overwhelming or frustrating (sometimes, it’s a whole lot more than that, but then again, mine is pretty darn good). And it’s hard be grateful for that. But we’re Jewish and so we’ve learned to cheerfully be grateful for anything, even disasters.

Whether it’s Rabbi Akiva dancing in the temple ruins (because now that it’s fully destroyed, it’s sure to be rebuilt soon) or the kid who said thank you for the room of manure (there’s got to be a pony involved), we’re supposed to look for the positive and be grateful for it. It’s not easy but it’s our job. So, we smile at disaster and start again.

And of course, this leads to victory. Because the person who is grateful for the chance to rebuild when their house gets destroyed is far more likely to have a new house than the one complaining about their bad luck and how they would totally have succeeded if only…

Today, I am grateful at whatever life throws at me, because I know that victory lies within.

Omer 31

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 one, which is four weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve egad she hem arba’a shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

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

Manners are completely useless. At least so said the twelve -year-old me as I proceeded to dismiss the need for manners. They don’t convey any new information – my request for the butter is just as accurate with the please as without, and free from irritating extra verbiage. The same held true for thank you’s. There was no purpose to them – they conveyed no net-new information that I could see, and weren’t always that genuine (I mean, how grateful can one be about butter).

It was only years later that I realized manners had an entirely different purpose. They aren’t for conveying information – that can be done, well and efficiently inmany other ways. They are for beauty.

In much the same way, a dance isn’t for getting from one place to another. Running and even walking is a way more efficient way of getting from one point to another. Dancing is beautiful, though, and a great way to express emotion and connect to others.

Today, I can use gratitude and other polite words and phrases to turn my conversations into dances of words that do that very thing – express emotion and connect to others.  It’s not that I’m conveying more information about the butter. I’m conveying emotions about the other person, I’m conveying a sense that the table is a shared place that we want to keep civil, I’m conveying the dance.

Today, I say ‘thank you’ and remember that good manners can be beautiful.

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.