Thursday, April 17, 2014

Count the Omer 2014

It's Passover, which means it is time once again to start counting the Omer! If you will recall from last year, the Omer is the period between Passover and Shavuot when we count from day one on the second night of Passover to day forty-nine. In Temple times, this seven-week period was the barley harvest between the Passover offering and the Shavuot offering (learn more at My Jewish Learning).

In today's context, these seven weeks represent the journey from slavery (Passover) to freedom (receiving the Torah at Sinai on Shavuot). Accordingly, Kabbalah mimics this Biblical journey by considering the counting of the Omer as a time of reflection and personal growth. Each week and day is assigned one of seven sephirot (characteristics) that we should try to improve. They are:
  1. Chesed - Loving-kindness 
  2. Gevurah - Strength, Justice 
  3. Tiferet - Balance, Compassion 
  4. Netzach - Endurance, Ambition 
  5. Hod - Gratitude, Humility 
  6. Yesod - Foundation, Connection 
  7. Malchut - Kingdom, Leadership has a great calendar and the daily blessings for you to keep up with counting the Omer (bonus: Simpsons quotes!). Last year, I blogged all the days, which was fun and also very time-consuming. So this year, while I will be doing my own personal reflection, I am taking a different approach online. I encourage you to count the Omer and reflect, daily or weekly, on ways that you can improve yourself in the seven sephirot. For a refresher, feel free to check out my posts from last year. If a day or week hits you with particular meaning, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Happy counting!

Count the Omer Posts, 2013

  1. Chesed sheb'Chesed, Loving-kindness within Loving-kindness 
  2. Gevurah sheb'Chesed, Strength within Loving-kindness 
  3. Tiferet sheb'Chesed, Harmony within Loving-kindness 
  4. Netzach sheb'Chesed, Ambition within Loving-kindness 
  5. Hod sheb'Chesed, Gratitude within Loving-kindness 
  6. Yesod sheb'Chesed, Foundation within Loving-kindness 
  7. Malchut sheb'Chesed, Kingdom within Loving-kindness 
  8. Chesed sheb'Gevurah, Loving-kindness within Justice 
  9. Gevurah sheb'Gevurah, Strength within Restraint 
  10. Tiferet sheb'Gevurah, Harmony within Restraint 
  11. Netzach sheb'Gevurah, Endurance within Strength 
  12. Hod sheb'Gevurah, Humility within Strength 
  13. Yesod sheb'Gevurah, Foundation within Strength 
  14. Malchut sheb'Gevurah, Leadership within Power 
  15. Chesed sheb'Tiferet, Loving-kindness within Balance 
  16. Gevurah sheb'Tiferet, Power within Beauty 
  17. Tiferet sheb'Tiferet, Harmony within Harmony 
  18. Netzach sheb'Tiferet, Endurance within Compassion 
  19. Hod sheb'Tiferet, Gratitude within Compassion 
  20. Yesod sheb'Tiferet, Connection within Compassion 
  21. Malchut sheb'Tiferet, Leadership within Compassion 
  22. Chesed sheb'Netzach, Loving-kindness within Ambition 
  23. Gevurah sheb'Netzach, Strength within Endurance 
  24. Tiferet sheb'Netzach, Compassion within Endurance 
  25. Netzach sheb'Netzach, Ambition within Endurance 
  26. Hod sheb'Netzach, Gratitude within Ambition 
  27. Yesod sheb'Netzach, Foundation within Ambition 
  28. Malchut sheb'Netzach, Leadership within Endurance 
  29. Chesed sheb'Hod, Loving-kindness within Majesty 
  30. Gevurah sheb'Hod, Justice within Humility 
  31. Tiferet sheb'Hod, Beauty within Majesty 
  32. Netzach sheb'Hod, Ambition within Humility 
  33. Hod sheb'Hod, Humility within Majesty 
  34. Yesod sheb'Hod, Foundation within Gratitude 
  35. Malchut sheb'Hod, Leadership within Humility 
  36. Chesed sheb'Yesod, Loving-kindness within Connection 
  37. Gevurah sheb'Yesod, Power within Connection 
  38. Tiferet sheb'Yesod, Harmony within Connection 
  39. Netzach sheb'Yesod, Endurance within Connection 
  40. Hod sheb'Yesod, Majesty within Connection 
  41. Yesod sheb'Yesod, Connection within Connection 
  42. Malchut sheb'Yesod, Kingdom within Foundation 
  43. Chesed sheb'Malchut, Loving-kindness within Kingdom 
  44. Gevurah sheb'Malchut, Strength within Leadership 
  45. Tiferet sheb'Malchut, Harmony within Leadership 
  46. Netzach sheb'Malchut, Endurance within Kingdom 
  47. Hod sheb'Malchut, Humility within Kingdom 
  48. Yesod sheb'Malchut, Foundation within Kingdom 
  49. Malchut sheb'Malchut, Kingdom within Kingdom

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quote of the Week: Chestnut Tree

"Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy." -Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, February 23, 1944
Fourteen years ago, right around the time that I walked away from Lutheranism, I read The Diary of a Young Girl for a study hall class and tried (but failed) to hide my tears when I came to the end of it. I remember following the cut-it-down-don't-cut-it-down debate of 2007 over Anne Frank's dying chestnut tree with a vested interest and being saddened to learn in 2010 (just as I was beginning the official conversion process to become Jewish) that it had finally fallen down.

Since then, saplings from Anne Frank's tree have been planted all over the world and now, the tree is coming to Washington, DC! I am so excited!

Anne Frank's Tree outside the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, circa 2009
Image courtesy of The New York Times