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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.

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Omer 37

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 seven, which is five weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve sheva she hem hamisha shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Yesod, strength within family, might within community

You know, it’s a cliché that the pen is mightier than the sword. But unpacking that cliché one might find that one is comparing the ability of communication to achieve. One might realize that connections – a family working together, a community that knows each other – those are powerful. They allow for successes that weren’t there before and for answers to difficult situations. They allow us to access help when needed and to discover the strengths that we can offer. Communication – written with a pen or typed or what have you – is more powerful because it builds connection than a sword, which can only destroy people, trust, relationships – the connection so built.

Today, we use our strength to build connection, not destroy it. Communication is mightier.

Omer 30

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 which is four weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim she hem arba’a shavuot vey shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevurah be Hod, strength within gratitude, might within thanksgiving.

Gratitude grants strength. No, seriously. Saying thank you for something, helps me to acknowledge the universe, and helps me to recognize my place in it and the ways in which others contribute to my success. That’s fantastic. I can do more knowing where I need to act and where others can fill in and I can keep working on the various things I need to do to help others. That network, that support is essential to building community – and I work better in community. Helping others and gratefully accepting that help is one of the best ways for people to connect. If that’s dysfunctional – relationships break down and struggle. When I remember to be grateful, I get to be part of a strong community and I know my role and my place within it.

Today, I know that by being grateful, I get the strength of living rightly in community with others.

Omer 16

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 sixteen which is two weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom shesh-es’re she hem shtey shavuot ve shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Tiferet, strength within beauty, might within grace.

The thing with the Omer is it makes one think in weird ways. Beautiful things are rarely strong – the model is lithe and graceful, but she definitely does not body-build. The body builder is not supposed to be beautiful. (I mean, she’s gorgeous – but not everyone will agree with that). So today, I was thinking of strength within beauty and of course, being a math teacher, I thought of webs, lattices, crystals – all these things where patern makes beauty – but within that beauty is the strength of a patern. Spider webs, especially with the rain glistening on them, can be very beautiful (when they’re not being terrifying.), and given that they’re made out of spider silk – they’re pretty strong too. The pattern of a crystal is the lattice that holds it together. Judaism has that also – the pattern of tradition, of doing the next thing – that creates an inherent strength. Tradition’s beauty gets us engage with it, traditions’s strength is what gives us strength.

Today, I will appreciate the beauty of the traditions I have, and will draw strength from their repetition.

Omer 23

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-three which is three weeks and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve shalosh she hem shlosha shavuot vey shtey yammim laOmer.

Today is Gevurah be Netzakh, strength within power, might within victory.

Today, I have to recognize that power is hard. Mostly, I don’t have it. Many times I don’t win. I’m not the most efficient or effective at things. I plod. It’s different. When I was younger, I wanted to be a world-famous teacher who changed all of society with my innovative teaching methods, a bit like Maria Montessori, my hero throughout adolescence. That would indeed have been a victory – and within that victory, the power to do good. Now, I don’t want to be that person. I don’t know why – I probably should – but mostly, I want to keep doing what I’m doing, even if that’s only teaching a few kids in a small school to be better math students. How is that enough? Because it feels like enough. It feels good and right and proper for me to do so, and it doesn’t feel good and right and proper for me to be trying to change the world. I think that recognizing who I am, and what I enjoy and even what I’m capable of – that’s a victory too, different though it is from the one I thought I’d have at 17. And it sets the limits I need for myself. Since another side of Gevurah is limits, then indeed I have achieved Gevurah be Netzakh, strength within victory, when I recognize my limits and feel comfortable within them.

Today, I will keep doing my best, and enjoy the knowledge that I don’t have to do anything else.

Omer 14

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 fourteen which is two weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arba-es’re she hem shtey shavuot laOmer.

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

Malkhut is majesty, kingship, dominion. It is also our connection to the physical. So, when it is found within strength – it reminds me of my environment, of nature in all its varagies and weathers. Malkhut be Gevura is the strength of a small green plant growing more stable and beautiful, it is the majesty of an ice storm blasting through the street.  It is the wonder of the way night follows day and day follows night and recognising the dominion of God within the world as the world continues to show its strength in achingly beautiful majestic ways. The physical – from the workings of my body to the workings of the world – is sometimes small and gross and full of mud and slobber and burps and the need for a long hot shower.  But it is also finely fashioned, full of surprising majesty, amazing, strong.

Today, I recognize the majesty of my surroundings. I am stronger when I connect to all that is around me.

Omer 13

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 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.

Omer 12

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 twelve which is one week and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom shtem-es’re she hem shavua ehad ve hamisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Gevura, gratitude within strength, humility within might.

I have a lot of strengths. I’m bright, funny, interesting. I can write. I can teach. I can plan. Sometimes, I worry too much – about being pretty, about being clumsy, about being slow. I focus on weakness and get whiny. Sometimes, I go the other way. I start thinking I’m pretty special, and get all proud of myself for stuff I had no control over. Neither of those are what today is about. Today is a day when I recognise my strengths, with full awareness of limitations also, and I recognize that these strengths were something God gave me to use as well as I can. When I’m grateful for my stengths, I find myself in good connection with the world.

Today, I am grateful for the strengths I have and the knowledge that I have them as a gift to help me achieve more in the world.

Omer 9

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 nine which is one week and two days of the Omer. Hayom yom tesha she hem shavua ehad vey shtey yamim laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Gevura, strength within strength, might within might.

Sometimes, the strength within strength is the going on. Sometimes, I don’t make it. I lose the crucial piece of paper, I miss the phone call, and I do a poor job on the assignment. At this point, it is easy for me to get despondent and overwhelmed. “I can’t do it – I might as well give up” I say. It is then that I reach for Strength within Strength. I work to find a way to do it – or I just tiredly and slightly hopelessly do it again. I get help. I research alternatives. I yell at people who are in my way. I do it badly, and accept that this will have to do for the time being. I practice. I do lots of different things all at once. Sometimes, there’s no change, and it all seems futile – and other times I get the task done. That impossible, overwhelming task becomes history and accomplished and gone. That gritted-teeth continuing to try – that feels strong to me.

Today, I keep going, knowing I am strong even if I don’t feel so at the moment.

Omer 10

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 ten which is one week and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom eser she hem shavua ehad vey shlosha yamim laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Gevura, beauty within strength, glory within might.

There’s that feeling, the one I get when I put in the last test mark or when I finish running a particularly exciting lesson. There’s the click. I love the click – that feeling that I did it right, that this is what God expects me to do and here I am doing it. Maybe it’s when you finish a painting – or submit an essay, or win a trial or get that grant or answer the question or put away the last dish or have the kid finally use the potty. It’s a rare thing, and mostly it doesn’t happen. Mostly there’s nothing of the sort. But sometimes, some precious wonderful times – there’s the click. To me there’s nothing more beautiful. I am willing to tap into my strength, to really push myself, to go beyond – all for that moment of perfect alignment when everything is beautiful because it is exactly where it should be.

Today, I notice the beauty of a hard task well done.