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Showing posts from April, 2016

Omer Day 6: Nurturing Love/Loving Nurturing

Take a deep breath and repeat after me: I love my body. 

How'd that go? 

If you're anything like me, it wasn't easy. 

Like a lot of women, I sometimes look in the mirror and wonder: 

Is that thing on my face a new gentle proof that I smile and laugh a lot? Is it time for my better-looking-through-chemistry visit to my hairdresser? Do I need to do more bicep curls or abs crunches in addition to my often twice-a-week spinning classes? Should I juice cleanse or do one of those drastic eat-4-days-starve-1 diet? 

In the Kabbalistic view of the Omer count, today, Day 6, is a day to reflect on the bonding aspect of loving-kindness. 

Bonding with myself means I'm comfortable with the wholeness of my body, mind, and spirit. And just as important as my mind and spirit are, being comfortable with and in my body is equally critical.

Lovingly nurturing myself asks me to take a good look in the mirror and be willing to try out: "You know, body of mine, you serve me really well, and yo…

Omer Day 5: Humility & Love, a perfect combination

I've been learning mussar - a study of Jewish values - with rabbi and cantor colleagues for about a year. We started with the value of anavah, humility. 

Humility (to use my teacher Rabbi Marcia Plumb's explanation) is making sure that there's room for other people on the bench of life. 

Humility is recognizing one's intrinsic value as a human being, no more or less than any other person, worthy of taking up space and air in the world. 

Who's a humble person? I guess it's like being a mensch; if you think you're a mensch, you're probably not. For obvious reasons, a humble person usually doesn't brag about her humility, right? 

The kabbalists say that Day 5 of the Omer should be spent reflecting on the humility of loving-kindness. 

If I truly love someone, our relationship flows more smoothly if I'm willing to make space for that person while at the same time making sure that my needs and desires are equally honored. A loving relationship requires ack…

Omer Day 4: Enduring Love (or how "Love Story" got it all wrong)

Do you recognize the picture, the book cover, and the quote? Did you have a crush on Ryan O'Neal?  Did you go to sleep with your hair wrapped around soda cans so you could get Ali McGraw's look?
If you said yes to any of the above, congratulations - you're a middle-aged romantic. 
"Love means never having to say you're sorry" always made me mildly nauseated. It meant that you could make buckets of mistakes and still be forgiven without having to acknowledge that you screwed up. Even when I was a kid, I knew that there was something messed up about the super sappiness. 
Real love - enduring love (the Kabbalistic theme of today's Omer count) - means quite the opposite. Love means saying you're sorry when you make a mistake. Love means being brave enough to call out the people you love when they hurt you. And love means honoring the people you love by being brave enough to admit you did something wrong. 
The bottom line: Love means being human, and being huma…

Omer Day 3: Compassionate Love on Primary Day in Connecticut

Compassionate love is given freely; expects nothing in return ― even when the other doesn't deserve love. (Day 3: Compassion in Loving-kindness) (1) 

Compassion requires an attitude of unconditional caring, of being determined to find the holiness in each person. It means that I'm hearing and watching other people carefully, intently, intentionally. It means that I let go of expectations: I give a gift of myself without expecting a thank-you. 

I often fall short of the ideal, and that's why self-explorations like these are so crucial to spiritual development. I claim progress, not perfection (and no, that doesn't give me a "get out of jail free" card when I goof up). 

Compassionate love is seriously missing in today's discourse. The anonymity of social media has removed the "shame boundary" that keeps most people from getting drunk and dancing naked in the town fountain or from saying atrocious things that not too long ago would get one ostracized …

Omer Day 2: The Offering of Time

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism offers questions for each day's omer count. For Day 2, it is this:

"Long ago, Jews brought an omer of barley - about a quart - to the Temple each day as an offering to God. What kind of offering might you make today?" (1)

That got me thinking about what it means to make an "offering." The korban at the temporary mishkan and then at the Temple/s in Jerusalem was meant to be something special and valuable. Not enough to bankrupt you, but something to make you stop and think before you turned it over to the priests. 

Whether it was some choice flour or a prized animal, you brought something of yourself to your relationship to God, bringing yourself closer to the Holy One of Blessing as a thank-you, an atonement, or just a way to praise God.

My most precious offering today would be time. 

"When I have the time." 
"I'll get to it later." 
"Time got away from me."

Time is an odd commodity. Seeming…

Omer Day 1: Just enough

(graphic: https://www.pinterest.com/serenityinhim/new-love3/)

"With the mitzvah of counting the 49 days, known as Sefirat Ha'Omer, the Torah invites us on a journey into the human psyche, into the soul. There are seven basic emotions that make up the spectrum of human experience. At the root of all forms of enslavement, is a distortion of these emotions. Each of the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot is dedicated to examining and refining one of them.

The seven emotional attributes are:
1. Chesed - Loving-kindness
2. Gevurah - Justice and discipline
3. Tiferet - Harmony/compassion
4. Netzach - Endurance
5. Hod - Humility
6. Yesod - Bonding
7. Malchut - Sovereignty, leadership"
Daily Omer Meditation

Over the next 49 days, I'm going to post a meditation from some source or another (perhaps myself) with my reactions/responses. Please feel free to share (with attribution, please), comment, and otherwise join me on the 49-day spiritual journey to Shavuot.

Day 1: The Loving-kind…