Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Count the Omer: Day 1

Today is the second night of Passover, but more importantly, today is the day we begin Counting the Omer! Over the next seven weeks, we will count up to Shavuot, my favorite holiday. According to Kabbalah, the time between the second night of Passover and Shavuot (the Counting of the Omer) is a time of spiritual growth and self improvement. These seven weeks represent the seven weeks between the Israelites leaving Egypt and arriving at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. In that time, they progressed from slavery to holiness. Accordingly, there are seven aspects of Godliness that we count and attempt to incorporate into our selves during the Counting of the Omer:

1. Chesed - loving-kindness
2. Gevurah - strength, power, justice, restraint
3. Tiferet - beauty, harmony, balance, compassion
4. Netzach - endurance, ambition
5. Hod - gratitude, humility, majesty
6. Yesod - foundation, connection
7. Malchut - kingdom, leadership

Each of the next seven weeks will be represented by one of these attributes, paired with another based on the day. Week one is chesed and day one of the week is chesed, so today is chesed sheb'chesed, loving-kindness within loving-kindness. Tomorrow will be gevurah sheb'chesed, strength within kindness, but that's for tomorrow. Let's take things one day at a time.

Day 1: Chesed sheb'Chesed, Loving-kindness within Loving-kindness. 

That's a lot of love.

Have you ever tried to really better yourself? Something more than a New Year's resolution? It's hard! I managed to create a plan for myself and actually stick to it for an entire summer once when I was in high school. I called it my "Summer of Self Improvement" - I took up running, cut out pop and other sugary drinks, and kept a self-reflective journal that I wrote in every night before bed. The plan fell apart when school started, but I learned some important things about myself. A few years later, after I had given up running and gone back to drinking way too much Coca Cola, I went back and read that journal. Parts of it were sarcastic, parts angsty teenager. The memorable parts of my journal and the real changes I made to myself in the long term were the parts I had written about openly and sincerely. When I was honest with myself, I managed to change for the better.

This is what day one of the Omer is all about. This week is all about incorporating more chesed into our lives, starting with yourself. Loving-kindness in loving-kindness - start with honesty and love in your own life and it will be easier to show it to others.

Stay tuned for more counting fun tomorrow! To keep track of the days yourself, check out homercalendar.net.

One! One day of the Omer! Ah ha ha!