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Omer 22

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-two which is three weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shtayim she hem shlosha shavuot vey om ehad laOmer.

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

So, I was on the internet today, reading about the tragedy happening in Gaza and Israel and read the following depressing exchange: “kids were killed – do you think it right to have snipers shoot kids?” “do you think it’s right to bring kids to a riot”, “Do you think it right to have snipers shoot kids?” “well, DO you think it right to bring kids to a riot?” “You haven’t answered my question” “You haven’t answered mine!” “You’re just a heartless self-righteous jerk who doesn’t care about kids!” “You’re just a rude, uninformed, ruthless, idiot who wants kids to die!” – this actually went on and on, and I was thinking – yup, that’s the Middle East. Somewhere, that scorpion is still stinging that tortoise, and they both still die.

(Story: scorpion asks tortoise for lift across Jordan, tortoise says no, as doesn’t want to be stung, scorpion says that would be silly as they’s both die, tortoise agres, scorpion stings tortoise midway across, when asked why answers – this is the Middle East.)

It made me sad. You see, the answers to their questions were obvious. No, it is not OK for snipers to shoot kids. No, it is not OK to bring kids to riots. Yes, there are probably other ways to deal with rioters than just by shooting them. Yes, there are probably other ways to protest injustice than through a riot where you’re told that you’re going to get shot. Yes, you should ferry the scorpion over. No, you should certainly not sting the tortoise.

The answers weren’t hard. What was hard was the khesed. When one is angry and resentful, the thing that doesn’t come easily is acceptance and trust. One starts plotting retaliation and revenge, and that leads to the other side being angry and resentful and that leads to more retaliation and revenge and it doesn’t get better. In fact, it gets worse. It gets Middle East. Even if one side wins, without kindness, that win is a hollow one, as there is more anger and more injustice and more riots and more snipers, and more dead children.

How to respond with Khesed? How to refuse anger? Now, that’s hard. But if you manage it – that’s victory.

Today, I win when I refuse resentment and revenge as a way of dealing with the world. Today I win when I chose kindness instead.

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Omer 36

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 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.

Omer 43

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 three, which is six weeks and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shalosh she hem shisha shavuot ve yom ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Malkhut, kindness within majesty, grace within leadership.

Whoa, last week! That has gone fast! We are almost done (I mean, I still have a bunch to catch up on, but almost done here!)  And today is a teacher’s day. It’s the Malkhut week – and a ruler, at least in Jewish tradition, is a guide, a leader and a teacher. At least, God is when God acts from “Malkhut”, and all other rulers strive to be more god-like.  A teacher has to be a leader, has to show that she is in charge, capable, successful. She has to lead by example, by discipline, by enticement, by those quiet, secret ways that good leaders encourage others to do the right thing without anyone noticing. To do so, a true teacher is kind. She thinks daily how she can give her students all they need, and correct them and guide them in a kind manner. All of us have moments when we need to be kind leaders, and Malkhut gives us that opportunity.

Today, I will continue to lead. I will do so with kindness.

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.

Omer 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.

It’s so hard to think of loveliness when there’s an April blizzard. I mean, snow can be really pretty in January, but this slush and sleet and freezing rain and hail and mess – how to see that as beautiful? It’s not, and no amount of pretending will make it so. So, I need to look for loveliness somewhere else. Today, I’m looking at a kids’ fort – it’s beautiful. There are bean bags made by the kids and I think of all the fun stuff that generally, my littles (and bigs) get up to. That’s beautiful, and inside of that beauty there’s a lot of kindness. They’ve been playing with each other, helping those younger than themselves, and coming up with great activities. It’s a pleasure to see that kindness.

Today, I notice the beauty – and the kindness – of people playing together.

Omer 8

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 eight which is one week and one day of the Omer. Hayom yom shmone she hem shavua ehad vey om ehad laOmer.

Today is Khesed be Gevurah, kindness within strength, generosity within might.

Today I am strong enough to do what I have to. I can accomplish my goals, just by listing them one by one and then by getting them done. I know I can do this – sure, there will be things I’m behind on, but little by little, my goals are indeed going to get done. However, within that strength I can remember all the times that I didn’t make a deadline, that I didn’t do what I was supposed to, that I actually didn’t meet my goals at all. As I remember, I realize that I can be kind to those that don’t have my strengths – that I can accept them doing the best they can even if they are far from meeting the standards I or even they have.

Today, I meet my goals with strength but I am kind to those who, right now, can’t or don’t.

Omer 7

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 seven which is one week of the Omer. Hayom yom shev’I she hem shavua ehad laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Khesed, majesty within kindness, dominion within grace.

Today, I think of Avinu, Malkeynu (our father our king) where we ask for kindness from God, specifically because God has majesty, has the power to rule over us. We pick those terms, becauseif someone has no power, they can’t really be kind – they can’t help us, they can’t stop badness, they can’t give us anything. Even to be a listener and an emotional support (which is what God is for many of us) requires some power – the power to create a still space into which needs expressed can be placed. Yes, dominion can be used to control and to harm – but it can also be used to lead, to heal, to guide. I realize I have that power too – I have authority as a parent and as a teacher. It is my job to use it with wisdom and love and to do what I can to be the kind ruler and parent that I want God to be.

Today, I look for ways to recognize my authority and to use it to care rather than control.

Omer 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, connection within love, family within generosity.

Today I worry about connections. More and more I realize that connection is time, given correctly and lovingly and politely. More and more I realize that I’m not very good at that. I get caught up in my own work, and forget that there are texts to write, emails to reply to, family and friends to call, promises to others to keep, polite invitations for time spent to make, chores to help with, games and books to suggest, and all the other ways I could be connecting. Sometimes the sheer weight of the connections I should be making gets overwhelming. I know that I can do more than I’m doing now – and that this is important.

Today, I try to connect to others, through kindness and consideration. I will prioritise family.

Omer 5

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 five of the Omer. Hayom yom hamishi laOmer.

Today is Hod be Khesed, gratitude within love, acceptance within kindness.

Today, I thank the difficult people. It’s Hod be Khesed after all, and a bit of challenge is good for us. So, today, I thank the person who cut in front of me in line, and the lady who criticized the way I was doing something and the guy who yelled at me when I bumped into him, and every student who decided not to hand something in (“because I was at an *important* place in my video game, miss! I couldn’t stop!”) and all the other wonderful people who drive me bonkers. I am grateful to them for reminding me about kindness, and how that’s my responsibility no matter what, for teaching me patience or perseverance, for engaging with me in some fashion. These are all good things.

Today, I am grateful for challenges in kindness. I can grow as a person and be kinder if I practice gratitude.

Omer 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.

Conquest within kindness is where I learn to time manage. I have, deliberately, a great deal on my plate. This is good – frankly, I prefer a full plate – but it requires proper focus without distraction. When I let my attention wanter, not only am I losing the battle against my yetzer ha-rah but I am being unkind. My time and attention is the greatest gift I can give. So, when I waste it in distracted behaviours – that’s not kindness. To win, I need to learn better ways of doing the things I have to do today, so that I have the time I need to spend on others – and to take care of myself.

Today, I can be kinder when I manage the moments in my life better.