Today is day forty eight, which is six weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shmone she hem shisha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.
Today is Yesod be Malkhut, intimacy within nobility, family within presence.
Today, I realize that having family around makes me work harder, makes me try harder and makes me care more. In fact, that’s what I do it for – for my family, for the people I love and want to spend time with and and care about. That’s what gets me up in the morning, doing the things I need to do. I am noble not on my own, but in the context of a member of my family – my community. Today, I recognise that nobility is something we create through the bonds we share and the connections we make. Today, I affirm the basic meaning underlying my faith. God is love. The love we have inside of our connections is exactly what makes us more Godly – more noble.
Today, I understand that all of these traits – nobility, love, kindness, victory, and on, and on – they are all aspects of God. I access the love I have within me, and share it, thus increasing my closeness to God and so, my nobility.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Today is day twenty-seven which is three weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve sheva she hem shlosha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.
Today is Yesod be Netzakh, family within power, intimacy within victory.
Family within power, huh? You know when intimacy is possible? When each person is both strong and weak. It’s this weird balance of being strong enough to know your needs and those of your family, know how to care for them and how to make it all work and being weak enough (or maybe it’s another form of strength) to accept the care of others. If that balance Is lost – if someone doesn’t need to be cared for, if someone is unable to give the right kind of care, if someone can’t ask or ask correctly for her needs – then intimacy is lost and caring is impossible. When the balance is there – well that’s truly a victory for family and intimacy.
Today, I win when I care for others and accept their care.
Today is day thirteen which is one week and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom shlosh-es’re she hem shavua ehad ve shisha yamim laOmer.
Today is Yesod be Gevura, sexuality within strength, intimacy within might.
It is actually easier to build a relationship on weakness than on strength, in my opinion. When one is weak, one can ask for and accept help – and that builds bonds. When one is strong, one doesn’t need the other person. Sure, it’s fun to hang together, but really, so what? There’s a lot to do. Who has time just to hang together – to have fun? So, we don’t give relationships their due when we’re strong. The day’s task – to use our strengths to build relationships – reminds us that our priorities are skewed when we don’t. We are supposed to find intimacy within that strength we have, to make that time, and to build that connection, even it it means being weak sometimes.
Today, I build my relationships with all of me, strengths as well as weaknesses.
Today is day forty two, which is six weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’shtayim she hem shisha shavuot laOmer.
Today is Malkhut be Yesod, majesty within intimacy, nobility within sexuality.
Nobility? Eh, it’s not very noble, sex is. It’s sweaty and people have fat rolls and sometimes they make gross noises and as far as I know, it’s about as un-noble as it gets. As for the ‘purer’ love between a kid and a parent, somewhere between changing the diapers and putting up with the temper tantrums, paying for the lost bus pass (again) and explaining that going to the dentist and doing taxes are things that you have to do without reminders from mommy, that love seems less noble and more just tiring too. And yet – yet it is. It is beautiful, because the simple act of loving makes everything shine and look better and sound better and feel easier. That loving can be the rose coloured glasses through which one sees the world and which make everything look better.
Today, I realize that the nobility of love is that it can make even very unappealing moments seem majestic.
Today is day forty one, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’ehad she hem hamisha shavuot ve shisha yamim laOmer.
Today is Yesod be Yesod, intimacy within intimacy, foundation within community.
Today, I think about building friendships. Sometimes, it’s so easy – the other person says something funny, I laugh, and presto, a connection is made – a friendship is built. Sometimes, it’s a boatload of work – of getting poison thoughts out of my head, of maintaining limits and boundaries even when it feels artificial to ensure there is no power imbalance, of calling even when they’re boring or overemotional or both, of doing favours – and accepting gifts, of little things that make others smile, not laugh. It’s a lot work which I don’t always want to do. But that is where the intimacy within intimacy comes from – doing that work, finding those answers and building those connections.
Today, I build the foundation within the foundation of my relationships – I do the work even when I don’t want to.