Monday, May 13, 2013

Count the Omer: Days 47, 48 & 49

Day 47: Hod sheb'Malchut, Humility within Kingdom
The closer I get to God and spirituality, the harder it is to find the words to explain what I'm feeling. I think that's why so much of religious thought is expressed through analogies and metaphors. In that spirit, let's talk about stairs.
Around this time last year, I was on Mackinac Island in Michigan, hiking with my husband. Mackinac is a small, beautiful island, with plenty of hiking trails. Near dusk, we came to a winding staircase that disappeared up into the trees. We were tired from hiking all day, but decided to see where that staircase went anyway. We took it one step at a time, wondering where the stairs would lead and what kind of views we would have at the top. With the end in sight, we turned around to see how far we had come and it looked further and more twisted than it had seemed as we climbed.

As I reflect on Counting the Omer this year, I am amazed at how quickly and easily these seven weeks have gone by. It does not seem that long ago that we were celebrating Passover and counting day 1 of the Omer, taking that first step on the staircase toward spiritual improvement and Shavuot. I am humbled today by time and by our nearness to the top.

Day 48: Yesod sheb'Malchut, Foundation/Connection within Kingdom
We talked about the reverse of this combination last week. While malchut sheb'yesod is about the kingdom that you can build with a strong foundation and connections, yesod sheb'malchut falls in a week with the emphasis on kingdom. God was already there long before Abraham and Sarah first started wandering, before we received the Torah, before we created the traditions we hold dear today. The foundations of Judaism and our connections to each other have grown out of our relationship with God.

Day 49: Malchut sheb'Malchut, Kingdom within Kingdom
Well, here we are at the end. I am amazed by the difference that just one week can make. By taking the time each week to think deeply about my connection with God and how I can make better use of each of these seven attributes in my life, I think I have really found a way to be a better person and a better Jew. I'm sure that I will let some of these new-found ideas fall by the wayside in the coming year, but I always have next year to think about the in a new light and make them stick. So here's to continually reaching out to God and hoping that God reaches back.

Omer Recap

  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