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Omer 42

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 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.

Omer 33 – Lag BaOmer

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. Today is Lag BaOmer! Hayom yom shloshim ve shalosh she hem arba’a shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer. Hayom Lag BaOmer!

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

Today I express gratitude for spring. I notice the flowers and the veggies and the birds that are everywhere. I even notice the pesky bunnies and squirrels who eat the flowers and veggies. I express gratitude for stories. Today, we talk about a story where people pretended to go on a picnic, just so they could go to school. I have to tell my students that there were people out there who skipped picnics for school, rather than the other way around. Today, I celebrate my family. It is Mother’s Day, and I have a wonderful mom who I will go out with later on in the day. I express gratitude for my parents and especially my cool, interesting, and loving mother. She has always been my support, my inspiration, and my friend.

Today, I am also grateful for memories of a parent that I lost. One year and ten days ago, I lost Peg Lilliman, a woman who was a second mother to me in my life. Although she was connected to no one in our family by blood, the connections we made through love and caring are ones that sustained me and supported me for many years. While I cannot be grateful for her loss (I miss her,) today, and every Mother’s Day, I remember Peg Lilliman and I will remember her with gratitude for the incredible life she lived and love she gave.

Today, we are grateful for the world we live in, for birth and life cycles, for special memories and for the mothers who make it all possible.

Omer 20

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 which is two weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim she hem shtey shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

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

It’s pretty, spring is. To see two birds flying together, or two lovers walking hand in hand – it’s really nice to see and it brings out an answering yearning in our hearts. It is wonderful to observe and participate, and there is nothing as lovely as being in love. It has its commensurate ugliness though. The problem with Yesod is all your secrets are involved. That secret heartache? That old issue? That time, when you…those are all things that emerge in relationships, like old bits of junk that were buried under the snow when winter came. (Oh that old thing? I was wondering where it had gone…wow it’s a mess, all rusted and broken and ugly.) It’s good, because it allows for clean-up, but it isn’t pretty.

This is where there is a choice. One can cover up that nastiness, pretending it was never there. “Mess, what mess? There was never any mess. I just prefer that tarp in that particular spot.” That does make it look prettier right away but basically, it’s a denial of Yesod. If I want intimacy, I need to be willing to see the ugliness, acknowledge it, deal with it and clean it up.

Today, I will be willing to look at the messy parts of my heart. I know that it will enhance intimacy – and thus the beauty of my relationships.

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, appreciation within loveliness.

Today is a good day to appreciate the people in my life. There are many who are wonderfully beautiful. The others have beautiful aspects – they have beautiful eyes, or there’s that time when they went out of their way. It’s amazing to see their smiles, and they remind me of good times we’ve spent together. All of these things are beautiful and there are many people whom I love. I remind myself of the beauty of others sometimes. I also ask myself, “am I as beautiful as I can be? Do I do kind things, smile, spend good times – and also try to look good for others?” Sometimes, I can be more successful than others. Beauty helps to build relationships. I enjoy it and find gratitude for the beautiful people in my life.

Today, we acknowledge that people are beautiful. We can appreciate that!

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 love, dignity within kindness

Oh, I’m tired today. And sad and lonely. Some days, I just can’t. But I have to. I have to be polite to people and do the next thing and make the world a better place. I have dependents and responsibilities. It’s hard to be kind – to not snap, to not come up with that amazing mega-sarcastic comeback, to not lash out. My mind plays the blame game a lot. It’s hard not to succumb to self-pity, and proclaim that the world stinks and there’s nothing I can do about it. But if I succumb, that’s selfish, and countless spiritual people have helped me to see that I shouldn’t indulge selfishness. That would be true majesty – to be kind and loving despite feeling like crap.

Today, I pray that my kindness comes from within, no matter what I am feeling.

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, sexuality within kindness, foundation within generosity.

It keeps being cool that what underlies the other traits is sexuality. Relationship – building bridges between ourselves and others – that is the foundation of what we do, the spur to give more. Today, I reconnect with passion as a translation between dreams and reality, as something which I can use at the back of my head to drive the next action. I take the passion I feel about something and turn it into acts of grace towards others. Today, I turn my kindness on, illuminating it with the light of passion and desire, thus making it stronger and fiercer and more real.

Today, may we be passionate in our loving.

 

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, victory within kindness, success within love.

And what if we don’t succeed? Today, I face squarely all the times I didn’t. Because sometimes, I don’t. I snap at people instead of explaining, I waste my time instead of doing the next task, I daydream instead of staying focused, I see my needs instead of anyone else’s. So, how do I deal with failures of kindness? Well, I heard recently that the best thing was to do it right, the second-best thing was to do it wrong, and the worst thing was not to do it. So, today I acknowledge that sometimes, even being aware of my failures is a victory, because it means I’m thinking about how to be more kind. That focus, that may lead to my remembering a small opportunity to say Hello, to be kind and to succeed in loving.

 Today, I recognize and learn from failures in kindness. They are a step on the path to victory.

Omer 2

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 two of the Omer. Hayom yom sheni laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Khesed, strength within love, might within kindness.

When they won’t listen. When you tell them and tell them and tell them and they just won’t listen. That’s when all you have – and you know this is all you have – is the strength of your love. When the kids scream for no reason, and the housemates deliberately do all the things that annoy you, you need to find love, and sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes, it’s remembering the strength that kindness hides that gets you through. That’s what makes the nagging sarcastic comments you make in frustration bearable – because you say them with caring, from love – and that’s how you’re heard. Sometimes, it’s the strength of love that gets you through the day.

Today, may we be strong enough to love them when they make it hard.

 

Omer 1

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 the first day of the Omer, khesed be khesed, kindness within kindness, love within love

 Today is the day when I remember that as well as everyone else, I need to find room for myself. It is Pesach and tax season and spring and crazy busy term switching non-stop activity work time. And all I have is myself and a lap top to stand against it. Today, I remember that I am important and in between loving everyone else I take time to love myself too. I have another drink of water. I go to bed early. Maybe within loving others is that key moment in which I love myself too.

 Today, may we love ourselves enough to take care of ourselves lovingly

 

Elul 21

#BlogElul – Love

Hey, you know what? This blog needs more spice. Let’s talk about sex!

So, what’s the big deal about sex? It isn’t love, it’s just physical exercise, right? I can love someone without wanting to go to the gym with them! And certainly, sex and religion don’t mix. Sex can’t really be part of Elul.

Well, actually, Judaism does have opinions on sex. Judaism thinks sex is important and in fact, when it comes to relationships between a married couple, essential. It is one of the reasons why either a woman or a man may demand a divorce, and this is in the most Orthodox, patriarchal, and backwards of versions of the Jewish law. A Jew who is independently wealthy is expected to have sex daily, one who works a day job, twice a week, and shift workers or people who travel, every 15 days, 30 days, or 6 months, depending on the nature of their job. Yes, it really does specify. So, come on, people. Get on with it! Are you meeting your quota?

This meets with more than the usual dismay from people. Surely, sex should be when one wants to! Surely it shouldn’t be mechanical, or forced. Yet if it was just ‘going to the gym’, it shouldn’t be a big deal! Just like going to the gym, one would do it regularly to stay fit, (picture it for a moment: one, two, three, four, and again – just one more time people – yes, I know, you have that image stuck in your head now – your welcome) whether one wanted to or not. The thing is, the Torah does recognize that sex isn’t a basic ordinary part exercise. It is an expression of love, one of the deepest we have.

When we allow physical intimacy with another person, we are trusting that person to take care of us. We allow a deep level of vulnerability to exist between us. This is an area where abuse is so easy, that rape has a whole category all to itself. So, sex is about trust.

It is about sharing. We give and receive pleasure and sharing pleasure is powerful. The act builds and reinforces affection – it’s not for nothing that it’s called “making love”.

So, how can something that vital be dictated? It’s bad enough to dictate ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, to dictate caring for children and honouring parents, to dictate ritual and daily practice, to dictate the food we eat and the clothing we wear. Now, this religion is coming into our bedrooms? Ridiculous!

Or is it? Is it a high standard, difficult to attain, set to us as a goal? Is it a question? “Have I done all I can to make sure I do meet those requirements?” Am I taking care of myself, trying my best in my relationship, making the most of every opportunity? Or am I simply allowing daily fuss to take over, to become more important? Am I taking sex for granted? Am I ignoring my responsibilities in this area? This month, as I review everything else, I had better review sex too. Yes, the work is hard. But the rewards are pretty awesome.