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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 v’shmone she hem shisha shavuot ve shisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Malkhut, relationship within majesty, sexuality within nobility

The thing about working at a high school is how much information you get. So and so went out with that guy who only likes her for her body, and the things he said to her! Meanwhile such and such is no longer talking to this other person because of what she said to him before he told that girl that…Now, these two are not dating and they’ve been not dating for 2 years and they’ll probably not date for the rest of high school. These other two on the other hand are dating but one of them is clear that he’s only with the other one because she helps with homework.

I tell them, “people, are you sure you want everyone knowing all this stuff? Really?” Sometimes, those old fashioned rules are useful. When to say, “hi” and to whom. Go out for coffee 3 times and then go to the restaurant. And above all, do NOT let your teachers and every kid in your 50-student high school know all the details of your romantic lives.

It seems formal and stilted and Victorian to talk about rules as far as relationships go. Is there room for actual emotion in all that show? I think there not only is, but that it’s stronger and better if those rules are respected and followed. So much that we do depends on custom and tradition, ritual and rules. And it brings a bit of a respectability to what is otherwise a messy and random situation.

Good rules can create stronger relationships – and good relationships create nobility. It is beautiful to see a true romance, and it can elevate a person to being a queen or a king. We’ve heard that someone is a queen in her partner’s eyes or the sovereign of the home – and it makes sense.

My bigger kids are coming to visit today – and it will be wonderful. I will feel richer than any billionaire and more honoured than any ruler. Within my family, I love my role.

Today, we use rules to strengthen our relationships and relationships to highlight our roles.

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 41

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 one, which is five weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim v’ehad she hem hamisha shavuot ve shisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Yesod, intimacy within intimacy, foundation within community.

Today, I think about building friendships. Sometimes, it’s so easy – the other person says something funny, I laugh, and presto, a connection is made – a friendship is built. Sometimes, it’s a boatload of work – of getting poison thoughts out of my head, of maintaining limits and boundaries even when it feels artificial to ensure there is no power imbalance, of calling even when they’re boring or overemotional or both, of doing favours – and accepting gifts, of little things that make others smile, not laugh. It’s a lot work which I don’t always want to do. But that is where the intimacy within intimacy comes from – doing that work, finding those answers and building those connections.

Today, I build the foundation within the foundation of my relationships – I do the work even when I don’t want to.

Omer 40

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, which is five weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim she hem hamisha shavuot ve hamisha yamim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Yesod, gratitude within foundation, humility within intimacy.

Today, I am grateful for love. It transforms everything. Really, it is shining bright rainbow colours added to an otherwise bland palette. And the thing about love is that there is no way whatsoever that I can do it by myself. By its nature, Yesod – whether defined as sexuality or intimacy or connection – requires two. So, I have someone else who needs to play in order for Yesod to be successful, someone who I may as well be grateful to. In its meaning of foundation, Yesod confirms that basically, love underlies everything. And today is an excellent day to express gratitude about that foundation, to test it, to see that it remains firm and to enjoy a life built on love.

Today, I am grateful for love. I express that gratitude to those who love me.

Omer 39

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 nine, which is five weeks and four days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve tesha she hem hamisha shavuot ve arba’a yammim laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Yesod, victory within sexuality, conquest within intimacy

The victory we need when it comes to sex is victory against society’s lies. Society tells us bodies are ugly. The only bodies allowed to be seen in public are unrealistic ones that have had certain attributes exaggerated for the sake of sales. Society tells us that our bodies are trying to bring us down because they are fat, or ungainly, or whatever it is that’s wrong with us. Society tells us that the smells our bodies produce are disgusting, and that we need to rid ourselves of them. Most of these messages aren’t said out loud. They’re just there. So, our victory is to recognize them, to fight them, to reject them and to affirm: our bodies are good, beautiful, important and exciting.

Today, I remember that my body is good, beautiful, important and exciting. Appreciating my body is a victory against society’s dictates.

Omer 38

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 eight, which is five weeks and three days of the Omer. Hayom yom shloshim ve shmone she hem hamisha shavuot ve shlosha yammim laOmer.

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

You know, there are two ways to look at everything. From one side, sex and everything about it is disgusting. It often smells funny, and it is associated with private parts and some of it is in the same area as we eliminate, and it’s not something we do in public or even talk about. It’s gross and that’s all there is to it. On the other hand, it is a way to bridge the gap between person to person, to have our bodies participate in acts of sharing and creation which bond our minds and hearts together. It is a beautiful way to relate to each other and to build connection. When done right, we call it making love, because that is what we are making or building. But it’s entirely in how one chooses to look at it.

Today, I choose to see intimacy as beautiful, not ugly.

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, endurance within intimacy

I was thinking of a lullaby today, and I was thinking of how long I’ve been singing it. I sang it in Russian before I knew English and I still sing it in Russian, so most of the people I sing it to don’t know what I’m saying. Here are the words, roughly translated by yours truly:

“Fields of moonlight shining, night is bright as day.
Sleep my child, my darling, sleep as I once lay,
In your pillow’s corner, tuck your little nose
Stars, the sky’s performers, like freckles look below.

Gutters out the candle, fading ray by ray
Sleep my heart, my handle, sleep as I once lay
In your pillow’s corner, tuck your little nose
Stars, the sky’s performers, like freckles look below.

Gutters out the candle, fading ray by ray
Sleep my heart, my handle, sleep as I once lay
Like all lullabies, it is fairly meaningless, and evokes emotions more than a story or coherent thoughts. The words, however poorly I may have translated them, take one from one time to another. With this lullaby, that’s particularly appropriate. I’ve been singing it for almost 40 years. One of the people I sang it to is 38 now, and another is 8, and many are between those ages, with their own interests and lives, loves and lullabies. Because it was always in Russian, I don’t know if any of them remember or know this one – it was not my main one for most of them, it was the “Gosh, I’m so tired, won’t you please go to sleep so I can stop singing” one. But it was often there, somewhere, and today, it’s the one I think of.

What does it mean, “as I once lay?” I myself had poor sleeping nights, and nightmares. There were nights I’d really rather not have, never mind wishing them on a child. I was certainly not the innocent sleeping child of postcard pictures. Yet, this day, it struck me – this lullaby builds. It builds connection and relationship, it builds intimacy, it builds and as it builds it strengthens.

Maybe that’s exactly what I want for those children that I sing to – that strength of having lived through all those different nights, that intimacy of built relationships one lullaby at a time, that vision of the stars as little freckles on God’s tousle-haired face, looking down on me, on the kids I’ve sang to, on the kids I’ve yet to sing to – pulling us all together in a deep intimacy against the darkness of the night.

Today, I think of all the little ways I’ve used to build intimacy, and all the people I’ve built that intimacy with. They are my strength.

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

Oh, never liked this week! All secrets and intimate stuff and stuff we shouldn’t really be talking about but here it is the sexuality week. This week is dangerous! It’s so easy to hurt someone that is family, that one is intimate with. Who knows what will destroy that relationship? Calling too often and being labelled as annoying? Showing too many emotions to the point that you’re scary? Being reserved and private, and people think you’re disconnected? Not coming over often enough so that you’re just plain neglectful? People’s opinions of us are made much too easily and are much too hard to change in this area. People get easily offended and quickly turned off. We can think of Yesod a bit like a minefield – if we aren’t careful, there could be an explosion. So, we must walk through this minefield with caution. What’s one of the best ways to be cautious in the area of intimacy? I think it’s to act with Khesed, with kindness. If I make an effort to think of the other person, to think of her needs, to think of her areas of offence, and act with as much kindness and grace as I can muster, I am less likely to cause an explosion that destroys the sexual relationship. I am more likely to succeed in creating intimacy and closeness.

Today, I am kind in my relationships – it helps to build intimacy.

Omer 34

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

Today is Yesod be Hod, intimacy within gratitude, community within thankfulness

Today we remember the friend. You know, the one who has been faithful for years. Maybe he’s awkward and socially inept and sometimes you laugh at him in your head. Maybe she’s loud and pushy and time consuming and exhausting and you half dread the time she’ll be coming over. But he was there when you celebrated your birthday for the last umpteen years and she held you the last time you cried bitterly because life was unfair. They haven’t commented (at least not too obnoxiously) about how awkward, socially inept, loud, pushy and time consuming you are. And probably, they could have. But they didn’t. So it’s time you (or maybe, I) express some gratitude for that loyal friend that you dismiss. They’ve made your life more wonderful and they’re part of what makes you, you.

Today, I express gratitude for friends who remain faithful despite my occasional disdain or neglect.

Omer 27

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-seven which is three weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom esrim ve sheva she hem shlosha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Netzakh, family within power, intimacy within victory.

Our strength comes from each other, and being with each other is a victory. We forget that sometimes. There are papers to fill, and notes to type, phone calls to make, and invoices to pay and so much more. I am busy every day, and tired and don’t care and don’t have time. And so when it’s time to watch a family movie or just sit around drinking coffee or otherwise “waste my time” hanging around with people, I sometimes say that I don’t have time for that. I forget that I am creating strength and power for myself. It is the most important way I can spend time, more crucial than any other.

Today, I win when I take time to be with family. It is the most important way I can spend my time.