Blog Archives

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 v’sheva she hem shisha shavuot ve hamisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Malkhut, gratitude within majesty, acceptance within presence

Today, I am grateful for the kings and queens – the leaders of our world. I don’t mean polititians – I mean the successful people who are good at something and who just get things done, the ones that plan properly and act when the time is right. You know those people, right? The one who was in the giften program, the arts-based program and the athletics program all at the same time, and volunteered, took care of an ill family member, had an active social life and STILL was a genuinely nice human being? The one who finished the dissertation early, while regularly participating in marathons, the CN tower climb and Habitat for Humanity? The one who successfully manages the four small children and the job and still holds weekly dinner parties? You know that person! They are our leaders. And I am grateful for them.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t always like them! They are annoying. First, they tell me what to do, and often – how to do it. Sure, they’re often right but that doesn’t make it less annoying – if anything more! Then they notice and correct my mistakes. Even if they’re nice enough to say nothing, they still show me up just by existing. I’m doing the best I can, true, but their best is better. Also, they have that look – that half pity, half amazement that someone so slow could exist, half irritation at having to deal with it, half self-righteous satisfaction that they’re right and I’m wrong. (I am well aware there are a few too many halfs. Now you’re nagging me about grammar too?)

But I am still grateful for them. They step up. They make dreams into a reality and they make the reality a better one. They encourage and support me and goad me to higher achievement, greater excellence and more long-term satisfaction. They make a difference and ensure I have or at least have access to the things I need – and the things I desire. So, annoying as they are, I am grateful.

Today, I am grateful for the leaders in this world. I strive to be more like them so that someday, someone else can list me in the category of annoying but inspirational and useful.

Omer 46

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

Today is Netzakh be Malkhut, victory within majesty, conquest within presense.

There are kings and queens whose vicotries we read about in history books. There’s the conquest of country x by ruler y, and sometimes that’s a good thing and the ruler becomes a great emperor and helps the countries run be stronger and sometimes it’s a disaster and the ruler beomes known through history as a ravager and a despot and we talk for thousands of years about what a baddie that one was. There are also kings and queens we remember for hanging around a very long time. For example, we just celebrated Victoria Day, named after Queen Victoria who hung around a very, very long time. It’s a victory of majesty too – a quieter one, but just as remembered and maybe, in some ways, more important.

There is a teacher I know who has been teaching so long that her worksheets were first made by hand and copied with carbon paper. They have taught children of their former students and have the respect of every member of their community. Now, that – that is a victory.

But it’s not just hanging around a long time that shows victory. Any time persistence is involved, there is a win. Sometimes, the ruler just has to keep governing, even when the country seems in to be in shambles and every one else is yelling and everything seems to be going wrong. Sometimes, the student has to just keep studying, the doctor has to just keep working on the dying patient, the teacher has to just keep teaching, the rabbi has to just keep explaining, the musician playing through the bad notes, the painter painting even though none of them look quite right.

There is a nobility to persistence, and occasionally, despite the predictions of others and the risk factors involved, sometimes, there is a victory.

Today, I keep doing the tasks that I know are important. My victory will come from continuing to try with these tasks. Even if I don’t succeed immediately, the continued attempt is noble.

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

A humble king – one of the oddest but in some ways, most beautiful images and an excellent description of the Jewish “chosen people” concept sometimes. Yes, one can be special and humble. One can remember that majesty doesn’t have to mean robes or crowns, jewels or cups, or anything else of that ilk. It can mean service and responsibility, a need to bring light unto the people, and a desire to represent others rightly, to ensure that one sets the best example. It can be a life of giving and caring for others, quietly and serenely lived. To achieve that humble nobility, we begin with gratitude. We express gratitude for the world we’ve been given and the mantle we’ve been asked to wear. Then, we go on to do the next necessary task.

Today, we are quietly, gratefully, humbly doing our best to be holy.

Omer 28

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-eight which is four weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shmone she hem arba’a shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Netzakh, majesty within power, nobility within victory

Sometimes, I don’t use my power for good. Seriously, I have power, I should always be using it to help others, make the world a better place, to act nobly like God. What happens, though, is I decide I’m powerless. Who do my opinions matter to, anyway? No one. This gives me a curious and somewhat toxic freedom. I can say anything I want because my words don’t really affect anyone, right? Sometimes, wrong. My words, my actions, my carelessness, my acting out of negativity and feelings of low self-worth finds someone’s sensitive place and hurts and does harm. This is not Malkhut, the nobility that God wants us to have. And sometimes, I’m right and they don’t. My words and actions don’t matter at all and people aren’t affected by them one bit. But is that the world I want to be living in? Is that the reality I want to create? One in which what I say doesn’t matter? If I speak or act carelessly from weakness, people will stop treating what I say and do as important. If I want what I say taken seriously, I need to speak with nobility, recognizing that my words and actions have power and acting as such.

Today, I remember I am powerful and so must remember to be noble in my actions.

Omer – Day 46

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 shesh laOmer, shehem shisha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is day forty six of the Omer, which is six weeks and four days of the Omer.

netzakh be malkhut – victory within nobility; conquest within rule

It always comes back to the only victory being one over oneself and the only person I can rule being me. Sometimes the bad habits I have seem like they’re stronger than I am. For me, whether or not it’s noble, sometimes my victories are tiny. I didn’t waste time on that facebook article and answered an e-mail from a friend instead. I read the good book I was recommended instead of the cookie. I got off my chair to get a glass of water, and stayed away from the free doughnuts. These are my victories.

What happens when I don’t succeed? I have less time, less energy, less ability – less that I can give to the family and friends that I am responsible for. Really, when I indulge in wasteful behaviours, I’m stealing. I’m taking time and money, energy and resources away from what I should be doing, both for others and for myself. The ten commandments say not to steal. Today, I rededicate myself to being the best Anna I can be. When I succeed, that’s a noble victory.

Omer – Day 44

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 arba laOmer, shehem shisha shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is day forty four of the Omer, which is six weeks and two days of the Omer.

gevura be malkhut – strength within dominion; might within majesty

We won. I’m sitting here and I know that in this country, fundamentally, I’ve won all the ‘life is a game’ roulette spins. We are not at war. I can get enough to eat. I can get a good job. There are many luxuries that the world over envies. I win.

In many ways, a large number of first world residents live richer than kings used to. We have a lot of clout economically and strategically, and we use it as kings and queens always have, to satisfy our own needs and wants. Even when we want to help, often it’s the “alms to the masses, save the heathen children and bring them to our ways” kind of help. We blunder through the world like a big cheerful badly trained dog, crashing things to the floor and leaving disaster in our wake without even noticing.

We kings and queens – we destroy people’s lives. None of us wants to see ourselves as someone who kills – but just like the tired and hungry French people at the time of the revolution blamed every noble for their poverty, so there are groups today who would blame us. Our assumption that our strength automatically brings wisdom leads us time and again to try to make everyone think the way we do. We have noblesse oblige and big hearts after all! So, we end up with the messes that result when we try to turn everyone into a pale version of us.

For example, we end up with the legacy of residential schools. (And if you think that residential schools are not a Jewish issue, read some Holocaust literature, read some TRC literature, notice the matching language (like “Final solution to the Indian problem,”) think about it, and ask yourself what the words “Never again” really mean. Every Jew should be doing something to improve relations with the Native people. If anyone is to understand the issues on reserves, it should be former residents of ghettos and their descendants.)

You say this isn’t about you? This is Canada’s shady past?  I would like to point out that while the last residential school did close in the 1990’s, the number of Native children in various forms of custody could easily be looked at as a sad extension. All of us who without thinking enjoy our everyday luxuries – we are parties to some very nasty crimes.

For presenting the commandment of “do not kill” to younger children, we chose “do not hurt others”. It is a natural and clear extension. We need to be aware of how our environmental impact and our social impact hurts others. Does that mean we should all give up all worldly possessions and go live in a third world country, or at least a reserve? I don’t think it’s likely – or necessarily helpful. We’d probably just end up creating more problems for our hosts. I think the key is “without thinking”. We need to think – we need to remember that we are very strong and we do have an effect and it is our job to be aware and be careful about what we do with that strength.

The more we stop and think and try above all to strive to limit the harm we do with our power – the more we truly exemplify the strength in nobility that this day is about.

 

Omer – Day 28

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 esrim ve shmone laOmer shehem arba’a shavuot aOmer.

Today is day twenty eight  of the Omer, which is four weeks of the Omer.

malkut be netzakh – nobility within victory; rule within conquest.

Sometimes, I wonder why I bother with the Omer count. Mostly, no-one reads it. I look at the stats and some days I have 2 – yes, that’s it – 2 readers. That’s with a family of 9 readers! I am lucky to get a couple of daily likes. Possibly, if I was someone who actually ruled something – a celebrity, a politician, a writer of renown, someone for whom this day was made, what I said would be significant. Or possibly, if I simply wrote better, more interesting posts…

But then I realize, I am exactly who I am. That’s my nobility and my victory!  This is the way I write, and I don’t do the omer count for other readers, I do it because the inner self-reflection helps me make the omer a time of personal growth, and I share it, because I don’t mind and maybe someone will get something from it. I share it because it’s who I am – someone who, for better or for worse, likes to share her thoughts.

The famous Jewish story of Rav Zusia crying comes to mind. When his students asked him what was wrong, he said he was worried about appearing before the heavenly court for judgement. ‘But you have nothing to worry about!’ They answered. ‘You are as wise as Solomon! You are as kind as Isaac! You are as…’. Zusia answered them by saying, “thank you for your compliments, but really…I am nowhere near that wise or kind or … However, I am not worried about that. I don’t need to be as wise as Solomon. If I am asked by the heavenly court why I was not like Solomon, I can simply answer that I am not Solomon. But the heavenly court will not ask me why I was not like Solomon, they will ask me why I was  not more like Zusia. And to that, I have no good answer.”

So, I will write again, because it is the best Anna I can be. I want to be the best Anna possible, and writing the Omer is me. As for whether I can write better, well practice makes better and there are 49 days of the Omer for me to practice in. The only one I can rule or conquer is me.

Today, I will try to be the best Anna possible and not worry about other people’s reactions.

Omer – Day 7

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 shiv’i laOmer shehem shavua ehad laOmer.

Today is day 7 of the Omer, which is week 1 of the Omer.

Malkhut be Khesed – Nobility within kindness; rule within love

There are people who make being kind look effortless. Who, when it is time to make hard choices, chose to do the right thing. They seem genuinely glad to do the favour. From them, kindness just flows, without making anyone look bad, without worrying anyone. I am not one of these people. For me, kindness is an ongoing struggle, a set of rules that I have to follow, because otherwise I simply won’t act in a kind and considerate manner. I have to rule myself to do the right thing, it being one of the hardest tasks on my to-do list just to stop being selfish and to think of someone other than myself. Today, I dedicate myself to this task once again. May I be kind…may I rule myself enough to allow for that kindness.