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Omer 49

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 nine, which is seven weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve tesha she hem shiva shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Malkhut, majesty within majesty, presence within presence.

Today is the end of the Omer. For 49 days, I have counted, written a thing (well, on most of them – I’m caught up now) and tried to think about my character traits. For 49 days I have worked to make a difference – however small – in myself and in the world around me by following traditions that are part of my heritage. The world has kept going – horrible things keep happening around the world, people keep coming over or going away, the to-do lists kept growing and being hard to cope with. Life kept being what it was. So, did this 49 days make a difference? As usual, it’s hard to say. I guess the best that I can say is I did it. I got through it. If nobility, if malkut is just showing up – then I showed up. Thanks for counting the Omer with me – lets do it again next year.

Today, I will keep being noble. I will keep showing up

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Omer 48

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 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.

Omer 21

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-one which is three weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve ehad she hem shlosha shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Tiferet, dignity within beauty, nobility within harmony.

So there’s a story about a small Shul. It’s broken down, old, no one goes any more. There are 6 elderly Jews left, and whether it’s Pinchas complaining about how much work there is or Sura chirping about her grandchildren, none of them are all that focused on faith any more. Finally, Rabbi Shmuel knows there’s a problem so he goes to see a wise Rebbe in a distant place. When he finally reaches there, the Rebbe is no help. “I really don’t know what to tell you,” says the Rebbe. “But you know what – I’ll let you know what my deep spiritual insight has discovered. One of you is the Messiah. You don’t even know it yourselves yet, but there it is”

Well, Rabbi Shmuel hurries home and tells this to his congregation. Everyone is confused. Who could it be? Not Devorah who was frankly, too old and thin and ill all the time, surely? Not Moyshe who was much more focused on his back than on his prayers? Not Rachel! She was hardly ever there! But what if it was? It could be!  Rabbi Shmuel? Sure he was forgetful and scattered, but he did know a lot about Torah…

Moyshe was just about to complain to Pinchas about his back when he thought “the Moshiach wouldn’t complain about backs!”. Pinchas was almost ready to tell Surah to talk about anything other than her grandkids when he thought, “what if She’s the Moshiach – those are the Moshiach’s grandchildren. They’d be pretty important.” He listened attentively. “Hmm,” thought Surah, “he listens so well. Maybe he’s the Messiah. He has a lot to do for a Messiah. Maybe I could help”. She set up some chairs and that Shabbat, brough a kugel to kiddush. Devorah settled in with a nice cosy smile. Delicious. And Rachel, who was there on one of her random visits was so impressed that she came the next week!

Gradually, as the six treated each other nicer, prayed with more kavanah and were more thoughtful in their own behaviours, more people came to shul. It started with Rachel, and then Surah actually brought her grandchildren, and then Pinchas brought his, and they had such a good time that their parents came the next week.  There were more people all the time, and the Shul grew and brightened. Thoughtfully, Moyshe hung a plaque that said “the Moshiach’s Shul” and this became the new title and attracted more people yet.

One day the Rebbe heard ot this Shul and decided to see it. “Well,” he said to Rabbi Shmuel, “did you figure out which one of you is the Moshiach?” “The Moshiach??” Said Rabbi Shmuel. “Who has time for that? Our Deborah sisterhood is starting up, our shool needs a new teacher, I hve a lunch planned for Sunday and Wednesday and our Torah sudy is booked for at least three months ahead. I’m not going to worry about the Moshiach! But really, Rebbe, is one of us the Moshiach?” “Well,” said the Rabbi, “the six of you saved something! You saved a Shul. And if saving a Jewish soul is like saving a world – then saving this shul is saving the universe.”

What would I be like if I was the Moshiach? Would I be more careful about that stain on my shirt? Would I avoid sarcasm more and worry less and work just a tiny bit harder? What if my friend was the Moshiach? Would I be more likely to call him up or to do that small favour for him? If I saw everyone as noble – as a Moshiach, a leader of leaders, would I be kinder? Because if I was – that would be beautiful. That would be majesty inside of harmony and nobility – nobility in the everyday.

Today, I recognize beauty and harmony when I see it – in evry face I see, including the one in the mirror. After all, any of us could be the messiah.

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.

Omer 45

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 five, which is six weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve hamesh she hem shisha shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Malkhut, beauty within majesty, harmony within nobility.

Today I enjoy the beauty of things being as they should be. Today is a day for beauty, not only because the flowers in my garden keep being stunning, but also because it’s the 1st of Sivan and there’s a chance we might sing Hallel. I enjoy those psalms – like the cornerstone made out of the rock that the builders abandoned, like God answering with more breath, more width – opening. Today, I am wide open to the possibilities offered by God’s wonderful dominion. Today, I have the easy comfortable beauty of a queen, when I recognize the amazingness of the world and of the noble gifts I have been given.

Today, I am a queen graciously accepting God’s gifts of beauty, offered through flowers and song.

 

Omer 44

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

Today is Gevura be Malkhut, strength within majesty, might within leadership.

Today is the discipline day. One can’t lead a group or teach a class or even play a board game without rules. Rules are an essential part of life because they add structure and meaning to the nonsense that would otherwise emerge. Sure, there is a place for nonsense, but only after we follow the rules and know which ones can be broken. Unless we want to have those million monkeys on a million typewriters typing for a million years, rules are probably a better way most of the time to write, to draw, to dance, to play with others, to cook, and to teach. So they need to be enforced. Of course, the hardest form of discipline is saying “no” to oneself. That’s what we have to do to get many of our things done – follow the rules we had set for ourselves.

Rules – discipline – requirements are stressful. They make us anxious. They make us want to hide. The hardest rule for me to follow is the basic one that “if you don’t get up and go, you won’t get there, and if you don’t start a job you won’t finish it.” My mind plays tricks on me – it says, “if you don’t get up now, you can always start a little later…” or “if you don’t go, then you won’t do the job badly but if you try…” or “you’ve done so much on so many things, you can take a break now before starting that one…” or “you still have time…” These are all lies. The truth is that I have no time, I deserve success more than I deserve a break and I will do worst of all if I don’t start.

Today, I start something I’ve been putting off. Self-discipline is a big part of leadership.

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 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.