Saturday, May 23, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 49

Day 49: Malchut within MalchutLeadership within Leadership
What does it mean to be the chosen people, a light unto the nations? Tonight, we will celebrate Shavuot with Torah study and cheesecake to commemorate God giving us the Torah at Mount Sinai. The Torah is meant to guide our lives, to tell us how to live a good, moral, and holy life, and in doing so, to bring us closer to God. We are meant to be a nation of leaders. We value life, freedom, education, hard work, etc, and we are meant to model those values for others. We lead by example and teach others to be leaders too. 

If that sounds easy, it's not. There is a reason that malchut within malchut falls on the last day of the Omer. Sometimes it is easier to do a task for someone than to teach them to do it for themselves, but a good leader is able to teach others to do and think for themselves.

Mazel tov! We've made it to the end of the Omer and hopefully gained some insights into ourselves and the world around us.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 48

Day 48: Yesod within MalchutFoundation/Connection within Leadership
Moses was a leader. He envisioned a life of freedom for the Israelites and took steps to make it so. He brought them together in the desert and forged a lasting connection between them and God. Leaders must be visionaries and bridge-builders. How can build connections between people?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 47

Day 47: Hod within MalchutHumility within Leadership
We have already discussed how becoming a leader endows one with power, but today is about humility. As Uncle Ben would say, "With great power comes great responsibility." Being trusted with power as a leader should be humbling. Leaders have a responsibility to serve their people, protect their people, and to set a good example.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 46

Day 46: Netzach within Malchut, Endurance within Leadership
We look to leaders to get us through hard times and reassure us that we will endure whatever difficulty we are facing. Whether it was Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address or Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech, the mark of a good leader is in the hope that they offer to others.

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." -Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

"I say to you today, my friends, though, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'" -Martin Luther King, Jr, I Have A Dream
What hope can you offer to others today?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 45

Day 45: Tiferet within MalchutBalance/Integration within Leadership
A good leader is one who knows how to balance responsibilities, to delegate, and to build bridges between people.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 44

Day 44: Gevurah within MalchutStrength within Leadership
How does leadership impact power? I loved my college experience. At Knox, I grew into the person I would become, gaining confidence that has served me well. My most impactful experience was in my sorority, where we strove to embody strength, scholarship, and service. When I was elected to the executive board, I was trusted to be a leader to my sisters and a strong representative for our sorority to the faculty and campus at large. Leadership requires strength, but also builds it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 43

Day 43: Chesed within MalchutLoving-kindness within Leadership

"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

Leaders who motivate their employees with kindness get better results and more committed employees than those who motivate their employees with fear.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 42

Day 42: Malchut within YesodLeadership within Connection
Today is the last day of the week of yesod. How does connection impact leadership? Leaders who are remote from the people they serve, unaware of their needs, and disconnected from the realities in which they live cannot be effective.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 41

Day 41: Yesod within YesodConnection within Connection
Have you ever had a friend who you connected with on one major point? You both like sports or you only talk about your favorite tv show? Do you have more in common? Try to build a stronger bond with the people you care about.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 40

Day 40: Hod within YesodGlory/Humility within Foundation/Connection
Where are you (physically, professionally, emotionally) and how did you get there? Today, think about where you came from and the people who helped you get to where you are now. My successes and the core of who I am, I owe to my family. They laid the foundation for who I would become and continually support my growth as a person. No matter how far you go in life, it is important to maintain that connection to the people you love and to remember the foundation upon which your life was built.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 39

Day 39: Netzach within YesodVictory within Foundation
You have to learn to walk before you can learn to run. You have to learn to hold a bat before you can hit the ball out of the park. Learning the basics, the foundation, of any skill is the first step to victory.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 38

Day 38: Tiferet within YesodBalance within Connection
When we are able to build connections, whether professional or personal relationships, it makes life easier to balance.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 37

Day 37: Gevurah within YesodJustice within Connection
As we go through the weeks of the Omer, each of the sephirot bring us successively closer to God. This means that the earlier sephirot (loving-kindness, strength, balance) should be easier for us to grasp, because they are closer to the human experience, while the later ones (glory, connection, and kingdom) are more difficult, because they are more divine and on a higher plane. Yesod is the penultimate of the seven sephirot of the Omer.

So, how does connection impact justice? Take your pick of any of the following issues: fighting antisemitism, advocating for gay marriage, the Black Lives Matter movement, feminism, or insert your own cause. When we are ignorant (willfully or not) of the plight of others and disconnected from their struggles and pain, there cannot be justice. But when we forge a connection with others, we can better understand their needs and see the injustices they face in life. From there, we can pursue justice together.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 36

Day 36: Chesed within YesodLoving-kindness within Foundation and Connection
Mother's Day
Today is Mother's Day, which coincides perfectly with day 36 of the Omer: loving-kindness in foundation. Love laid the foundation for my life. From the moment that I was born, I was loved. I learned what love is and how to show it from my parents.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 35

Day 35: Malchut within HodLeadership within Splendor
The concept of hod is a difficult one for me to fully comprehend. Words like splendor, majesty, and glory do not really have easy definitions, so from a blogging perspective, I am glad to be finished with this week. It is difficult to reflect on a concept that I can't even accurately describe, but I have to admit that my attempts at reflection and coherence have helped me grow, even if I'm not quite there yet.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 34

Day 34: Yesod within HodConnection within Majesty
Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
[God] took [Abraham] outside and said, "Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them." And He added, "So shall your offspring be." And because he put his trust in the Lord, He reckoned it to his merit. Genesis 15:5-6
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, where I could make out a few stars in the sky and took pride in always knowing where to find Orion's Belt. The stars have always made humanity look up in wonder, reminding us of the majesty and vastness of the universe. It is rare these days for me to see any stars living in light-polluted city after light-polluted city, but when I spend time in the natural world, I am amazed by its beauty. 

There is as much hope and promise in the stars today as there was when God promised a legacy to Abraham. The stars serve as a reminder of that promise, the foundation of the Jewish people, and of God's continued connection to us all.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 33

Day 33: Hod within HodGlory within Glory
Lag B'Omer
Tonight is the Opening Night of the Washington Jewish Music Festival, which I have been working on since January. Tonight, Neshama Carlebach & The Glory to God Singers kick off the Music Festival with a combination of Jewish soul and gospel music that praise the glory of God.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 32

Day 32: Netzach within HodEndurance within Glory
How does glory impact endurance? Sometimes, in order to get through a task, it's important to remember how truly wonderful you are.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 31

Day 31: Tiferet within Hod, Balance within Humility/Glory
Just two days ago, I discussed the important balance between humility and glory. More often than not, I embody humility more than glory. The goal today is to learn that balance, because only by embracing hod can we find balance in other aspects of our lives.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 30

Day 30: Gevurah within HodStrength within Humility
Humility or modesty is about taking an honest look at your own abilities. Acknowledging your weaknesses is an act of humility that can help you grow.

Metropolis, IL

Count the Omer 2015: Day 29

Day 29: Chesed within HodLoving-kindness within Glory and Humility
The week of hod is about splendor, majesty, glory, and humility. It is important that hod is glory and humility, because both are equally important. Too much glory can lead one to get a big head, feel above it all, and act callously toward others. On the other hand, too much humility can turn one into a doormat. In order to show true chesed to others and to oneself, one must have hod.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 28

Day 28: Malchut within NetzachLeadership within Eternity
What leadership qualities stand the test of time? Let's look at the leaders we continue to venerate today:
Abraham Lincoln
Rosa Parks
Martin Luther King
Please feel free to add to this list in the comments. 

Why have these leaders lasted in our memories? They stood up for what was right, lent their voices to the voiceless, and inspired others.

What do you believe in?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Count the Omer 2015: Day 27

Day 27: Yesod within NetzachConnection within Endurance
Today's Omer reflection reminds me of one of the meditations before kaddish in Mishkan T'filah, the Reform siddur:
When I die give what's left of me away to children and old men that wait to die. And if you need to cry, cry for your brother walking the street beside you. And when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give them what you need to give me.
I want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds. Look for me in the people I've known or loved,and if you cannot give me way, at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind.
You can love me best by letting hands touch hands,and by letting go of children that need to be free. Love doesn't die, people do. So, when all that's left of me is love, give me away.
I could have easily used this meditation for loving-kindness within endurance earlier this week, but I think that it fits better here. What this meditation reminds us is that love endures beyond death and that as long as we keep that love alive, it can strengthen our connections to others.