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Omer: Day 23 Soul Care

Gevurah shebbe Netzach: Power within Endurance:

(otherwise rendered as discipline within endurance).

The motivating factor for endurance is discipline; in any endeavor, a regimen that is followed with discipline, will lead to endurance in that endeavor. The path to success, may be said to be paved with sweat, especially in regard to an exercise routine. Yet, to neglect the soul, while placing undue emphasis on the body, will lead towards spiritual undernourishment. Both body and soul are important aspects of human beings. While disciplining the body seems to be an endeavor that is well undertaken by many, who are concerned with well being; the discipline of the soul is also necessary, and should be kept in mind, when dividing one’s time.

The two may complement each other; I am not advocating neglect of the body in favor of the soul. However, I imagine that in contemporary society, neglect of the soul may be all too common, and not necessarily due to an overemphasis on the body. Rather, any focus on the soul, is often diminished in favor of other preoccupations, such as entertainment, socialization, and internet use. I would encourage any readers who fall into the category of an undernourished soul, to think twice about what is important in life. For the soul is eternal; whereas, the body will be subject to entropy over time.

With that in mind, the discipline of the soul might entail the same type of regimen, planned out on a regular basis, akin to a jogging or exercise routine. Spending a few moments of quiet time at the beginning of the day, will lead towards a lasting benefit – a spiritual charge – if you will, that will continue throughout the day. Also, connecting to the soul in a meaningful way, before retiring in the evening, may help to settle the mind, and calm the nerves. Therefore, in this manner, it can be clearly seen that there are practical advantages to soul care.

note: The counting of the Omer serves as a spiritual journey. We are called upon to leave our own personal limitations behind us, as we travel on the path of freedom, away from the influence of negativity in our lives. This is a forty-nine day journey, a self improvement plan, between Passover and Shavuot. Each of the seven weeks corresponds to one of the seven middos (character traits) that we will have the opportunity to improve upon in our lives.

My personal reflections on each day’s combination of middot are not meant to be comprehensive; they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may my insights be characterized as authoritative, because I am a student, not a teacher. I simply hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul).

Omer: Day 22 Chesed shebbe Netzach

Love within Endurance

Being kind to ourselves in respect to the aspect of netzach, rendered as endurance, is tantamount to an everlasting kindness, that we can only approach as an ideal, based on the aspect of chesed, that H’Shem shows to us, not only when we might deserve so; also, when we do not necessarily deserve to be treated with kindness from G-d, He will still show His kindnesses to us, in order to win us over to His love for us. If he loves us, then we may also show love in return towards Him through our obedience.

To endure in “right relationship” towards Him, is no easy task; rather, we need to keep being drawn back to Him by some reminder, or effort on His part, as well as our own. As long as He sees us trying, he will meet us halfway in our walk towards Him. This ideal may also be applied in our relationship to self and others. If we are kind to ourselves, we are more likely to treat others in the same manner; as is mentioned in Torah, to love your fellow human being as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). To extend love outwards beyond family and friends may seem to amount to the impossible; yet, the idea can at least be kept in mind, the next time, a challenging situation might occur.

Instead of responding to others, whether family friends, or acquaintances in annoyance when something is less than perfect in our lives, remember that any relationship’s endurance is dependent on kindnesses. I.e., the concrete expression of kindness in accordance with what is able to be expressed towards others. A smile, a kind act, or overlooking the other person’s faults. All of these and more will contribute to the endurance of the relationship.

note: The counting of the Omer serves as a spiritual journey. We are called upon to leave our own personal limitations behind us, as we travel on the path of freedom, away from the influence of negativity in our lives. This is a forty-nine day journey, a self improvement plan, between Passover and Shavuot. Each of the seven weeks corresponds to one of the seven middos (character traits) that we will have the opportunity to improve upon in our lives.

My personal reflections on each day’s combination of middot are not meant to be comprehensive; they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may my insights be characterized as authoritative, because I am a student, not a teacher. I simply hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul).

Omer: Day 20 – Building Wisely

Yesod shebbe Tiferes: Foundation within Beauty

(Otherwise rendered as foundation within harmony). What foundation have I built in order to bring harmony, meaning, and an overall sense of peace into my life? Am I the sort of person that permits myself “to go with the flow,” in hope that if I trust in the Universe, everything will work out for the best? Or, do I have a set of tangible principles, rules, and guidelines in my life, that governs my lifestyle, so that I might decide how to respond to the events in my life, rather than letting them passively shape me? Am I able to make wise decisions, based upon higher truths? Or do I go with the whim of my feelings, letting my emotions rule me instead?

The psalmist requests of the L-RD, that He show favor towards Zion, that He “build Thou the walls of Jerusalem” (Psalm 51:20, JPS 1917 Tanach). By analogy, this may be rendered as well for the sake of discussion, as the walls of our foundation that will preserve our inner sense of peace. The protective measures that we put in place to preserve our values, so that the sanctity of our lives is not diminished by outside factors. Additionally, a strong foundation built upon wisdom is necessary, in order to navigate the challenges of life.

From where is your harmony derived in your life? Upon what kind of foundation do you build your peace of mind? Do you have a lasting peace of mind? Is there something that will contribute to the restoration of your soul, when you might be thrown off balance by the world? A strong foundation is a sure and lasting one, that will provide shelter from the storms of life. Harmony and inner peace must be maintained, through returning, and returning again, each and every day of our lives to our central focus in life. If our focus is on G-d, then true peace is attainable through His presence.

Omer: Day 19 Hod shebbe Tiferes – A Sure Peace

Hod shebbe Tiferes: Splendor within Beauty

(Otherwise rendered as humility within harmony). Thus, one “role” of acquiring humility, in relationship to “peace of mind” is as follows:

Humility may serve to temper a false sense of harmony within, by compelling a soul to recognize that any sense of inner peace is often fragile, especially if that peace is not drawn from a higher source. Are we willing to admit to ourselves, that we are dependent on many circumstances, needs, and expectations to maintain a sense of peace? To think otherwise may be an overestimation of one’s own ability to secure sure peace of mind with self and others.

Yet, if we would like to be able to transcend our dependence on the requirements that we set for ourselves, in order to bring us a peace that may actually be a fragile peace, then, through recognition of our limitations to secure this peace, we may humble ourselves before G-d, in acknowledgment of the everlasting peace that can provided through Him. “The L-RD will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11, JPS 1917 Tanach).

Omer: Day 18 Netzach shebbe Tiferes – Centering

Endurance within Beauty

(Otherwise rendered as endurance within harmony). The center will not hold: my sense of balance will be thrown off, if my center is predicated strictly upon a sense of self. Rather, a transcendent focus will support a sense of balance, by way of transcending ourselves, so that a higher perspective may be gained. Victor Frankl explains that a greater sense of fulfillment than our own selfish pursuits must ensue from “one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself” (Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning).

The ego thrives on pride, and a sense of accomplishment attributed to the efforts made by oneself. Yet, because we are limited beings, this kind of image, focused only on self will not endure. True harmony within may only endure through help from Above; otherwise, the weight of our own worries and concerns in this world, may become overwhelming. For myself, I would overestimate my own sense of self importance, if I thought that I could rely on my own moral, emotional, and intellectual reserves.

Because we are interdependent human beings, our lives are dependent on various factors, and the contributions of others, as well as our familiar and social connections. Therefore, we are somewhat dependent, to a greater or lesser degree, on others outside of ourselves. Ultimately, from the point of view of scripture, G-d would like us to depend on Him. “Cast your burdens upon the L-RD, and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:23). For, His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isiah 55:9). Therefore, G-d may serve as a prolific resource.

[These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul)].

Omer: Day 17 Tiferes shebbe Tiferes – Back to the Garden

Tiferes shebbe Tiferes: Beauty within Beauty

The epitome of beauty that speaks of harmony and balance within all of creation was present in the beginning within Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden). That harmony was disrupted, when Adam and Chava (Eve) partook of forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Up until that moment, the progenitors of humankind lived in a nondual world of blissful connection to G-d. Their relationship to Him was whole, and immersed in complete Oneness. They were at one with each other, and all of creation as well. Subsequent to their disobedience, the world became an admixture of good and evil.

Throughout history, these two forces often appeared in sharp outlines, discernible even to the casual eye, as well as the more carefully honed conscience. Today, the blur between good and evil that seems to have proliferated in the twentieth century is increasing to the point of concern, whereas the boundaries are no longer clearly marked in society. The prophet’s words apply, “woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that change darkness into light, and light into darkness; that change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter” (Isaiah 5:20, JPS 1917 Tanach).

The words of singer songwriter, Joni Mitchell, during the tumultuous 60’s still ring true, “We’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.” How so? Through bringing compassion towards a disharmonious world, beginning with ourselves. For G-d primarily expects His crowning achievement (humankind) to live lives that reflect His image. Mankind has fallen far since the days of yore; yet, recovery for the soul is still possible. With a sincere effort, a response will be elicited from Above.

[These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul)].

Omer: Day 16 Gevurah shebbe Tiferes

B”H

Gevurah shebbe Tiferes: Power within Beauty

Strength must be modified, in order to be compatible with a specific end in mind. For example, gevurah as a measure of judgment in the form of an admonition, should be balanced by tiferes, for the sake of harmony in accord with the given situation. Opening a tin of sardines does not require as much strength, as prying open a car door with the jaws of life. So, it follows that correcting a student’s mistake in pronunciation, is less demanding than chiding a teenager for misbehavior.

For the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul), we should judge ourselves in a manner that is not too harsh, nor too lenient; rather, in way that would prove to be of the most benefit to the soul. Thus, a balance is necessary, in regard to how critical a person is of himself. A certain amount of positive self talk will compel a person to feel encouraged: yet, it is also necessary to critique thought, speech, and action, in hopes of being able to improve any faults in these areas.

Precisely because we are human beings, we may improve upon ourselves, by way of transcending any negative characteristics. Ultimately, harmony within the framework of mind, body, and spirit will lead towards the ability to excel in accordance with the design given to us by the Creator. Abraham Twerski points out that human spirituality is dependent upon the distinguishing characteristics of humans that make them different than animals.

These would include free will, i.e., volition, inclusive of the ability to use discernment, delay gratifications,and put others ahead of oneself in certain situations. Achieving harmony within ourselves sometimes requires prioritizing our needs,in favor of higher, more noble aspirations. The discernment of gevurah will assist on the road towards freedom from our lower nature, The heights of spirituality rest upon the decisions that we make for ourselves, that are most in accord with being truly human.

[These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul)].

Omer: Day 15 Chesed shebbe Tiferes

April 12, 2021

Love within Beauty

The quality of loving-kindness expressed in a harmonious manner as represented by tiferes is integral to lending a helping hand in time of need. True kindness is not measured, per se, by any limiting factors; yet, flows outward from a place of sincerity, knowing how to quench the emotional thirst of others, like a river following its natural course. Even so, the natural expression of loving-kindness is rare, especially when almost everyone’s source of inner kindness is being tested by trying times. Therefore, finding the right measure of kindness at the appropriate time, in harmony with the specific needs of others requires discernment.

If we are in harmony with ourselves; i.e., as so many others have said in various ways, we need to be kind to ourselves. To some degree how we treat others, may actually be reflecting how we treat ourselves. The commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) is considered a cornerstone of Jewish thought, through which all of the other commandments must be viewed. In respect to chesed shebbe tiferes, loving-kindness within harmony, the flowing out of love from a balanced place within an individual, can help to temper our efforts to do mitzvoth (good deeds), by tinging all that we do with a certain amount of kindness. In this manner, harmony may be either created or restored by always “keeping chesed in mind.”

[These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul)].

Omer: Day 14 Malchut of Gevurah

sovereignty within strength

Wielding power from a position of authority requires discernment. The autonomy of the sovereign must reflect his own deference to G-d, for no one is above the law. Moreover, the sovereign must respect the autonomy of his subjects; and, not rule in a manner that diminishes their individuality and rights. Every human being is granted a certain amount of autonomy from Above. If G-d gives us free will, then we must also recognize the autonomy of our fellow human beings.

Omer: Day 13 Yesod of Gevurah

foundation within strength

The foundation of strength, from an integral standpoint, has to do with “moral constraint.” Gevurah is also associated with judgment; therefore, judging ourselves within the context of our foundational beliefs may compel us to see if we “measure up” to the standards that we would like to uphold in our lives. A proper assessment of our foundational strengths is necessary to test the integrity of the overall “structure” – the beliefs and presuppositions that our lives are based upon.