Omer: Day 49 Culmination

Malchut shebbe Malchut: Kingship within Kingship

Today’s middot (character traits) are malchut shebbe malchut (autonomy within sovereignty). This may be compared to the goal of self-actualization as found within a psychological framework. Finding a meaningful path to pursue in life will lead to personal fulfillment; in other words, the culmination of the soul’s mission in life. Under G-d’s directive, through His hasgacha peratis (divine guidance) that is placed upon us all, we are guided to what will steer us in the right direction.

In the Biblical sense, Solomon simplifies the essence, the underlying goal, to focus on, namely, “the sum of the matter, when all is said and done: Revere G-d, and observe His commandments; for this applies to all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, JPS 1985 Tanach). By staying on course, within the framework of G-d’s commandments, including all of the guidance that stems from them, one’s potential as an individual may be fully garnered, along the way towards the Kingdom.

The path is a unified one, inclusive of the soul in relationship to G-d. Moreover, to think in terms of self actualization, as well as directing ourselves to be in accordance with G-d’s expectations of us, is not incongruent. Although, in the strictest psychological sense, Maslow may have intended self actualization an expression of inner potential; within the light of a divine plan, it is ultimately through the negation of self to a higher cause, that the self may realize its fullest potential within G-d.

On Shavuot (the fiftieth day), the culmination of the forty-nine day journey through self renewal, by way of examining our character, reaches its goal. As the L-RD said to Moses, “when thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve G-d upon this mountain” (Exodus 3:12, JPS 1917 Tanach). We receive the Torah anew, in the very present moment of our lives. H’Shem willing, the refinement of our soul over the past seven weeks has brought us closer to the fulfillment of peace and wholeness in our lives.

“The path of the righteous is as the light of dawn, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”

– Proverbs 4:18, JPS 1917 Tanach

Omer: Day 48 – Being Oneself

Yesod shebbe Malchut: Foundation within Kingship

In regard to yesod, a strong foundational belief system is necessary in order to maintain a sense of autonomy (malchut). Without reference points, in regard to one’s identity, it would be too easy to be swayed by this, that or the other opinion, trend, or viewpoint. A tenacious adherence to a set of values and beliefs, as well as an overall conception of oneself will be a fence around an individual’s autonomy.

There is a teaching from Zusha, who taught that when he gets to Shomayim (Heaven), he isn’t going to be asked why he wasn’t like Moses. He will be asked why he wasn’t like Zusha (himself). Everyone is an individual, who will best relate to truth in the manner that G-d will show to him or her. Therefore, the spiritual achievements, past education, or knowledge of others should only inspire us. For G-d designates unto each and every individual, according to his own capacity.

A foundational belief and practice is really integral to the overall spiritual health of every human being; otherwise, we could potentially drown, so to speak, in a sea of nihilism, where values ultimately do not matter, and life has no directive towards an ultimate purpose. G-d forbid. Therefore, to cling to the truth through deveykus (attachment) is paramount not only to connect to G-d, but to also remain steadfast on the derech (path) of life.

note: this was recorded and posted before Shabbat.

Omer: Day 47 – Humble Mountain

Hod shebbe Malchus: Splendor Within Kingship

Hod, may also be reckoned as “humility.” Humility is a necessary ingredient of character, inasmuch that any attempt to raise oneself above a modest estimation of one’s abilities should be placed in check by a fair analysis of oneself. Lowliness of spirit is a deterrent against pride. Morever, showing deference to others helps to foster a sense of humility.

Yet, ultimate deference should be shown to G-d, through obeisance of His commandments, as well as an acknowledgment of His greater wisdom (Isaiah 55:8-9). The middah (character trait) of hod is also reckoned as “splendor.” This type of splendor is the resultant state of humbling ourselves before G-d. “Before honor goeth humility” (Proverbs 15:33). When we bow to G-d in our heart, He will bestow his shefa (divine flow) upon us. 

B’nei Yisrael received the Torah at Sinai. Why was Mt. Sinai chosen from all of the other mountains? Because Sinai was not the highest of mountains; this teaches us the importance of humility. Only when we humble ourselves before G-d in full acknowledgment of our own limitations, may we receive the Torah anew within the quietude of our hearts.

“The reward of humility is fear of the L-RD” (Proverbs 22:4, JPS 1917 Tanach). When we humble ourselves, we can begin to appreciate our relationship to the L-RD, acknowledging Him with awe, reverence and respect. His sovereignty over our lives becomes easier to accept, when we recognize that we are limited beings, without all of the answers in life.

Omer: Day 46 – Gemstones

Netzach shebbe Malchut: Endurance within Kingship

Netzach, most commonly associated with “victory” may also be reckoned as success and accomplishment. In combination with malchus (sovereignty, autonomy, self-worth), one topic that might be relevant is the relation of success to autonomy. For example, what is the effect of success on the autonomy of an individual? Success in any endeavor would strengthen one’s sense of autonomy.

Accomplishments are akin to gemstones in the crown of a king, each one sparkling in its place. Another metaphor, a crown of laurels, received by those who are honored. Yet, there is a saying, that it is not wise to rest on one’s laurels.

Another way to symbolize accomplishments is like fruit on a tree. According to scripture, man is likened to a tree. In like manner that a tree is able to bear fruit, man, through his mitzvot (good deeds) may also bear fruit. Continuing the metaphor, fruits on a tree may be partaken of by all who enter the orchard. Therefore, following the metaphor, accomplishments that benefit others are even more like fruits on a tree. The yield of fruit is seasonal, and may be continually renewed year after year.

On another note, I would prefer not to speak about “success” as an abstract attainment, as if it is a level that one reaches, or a pinnacle that one stands upon. I am more inclined to speak about success in terms of actual individual accomplishments. A substantial amount of good deeds done for the sake of others will bear fruit in the lives of the recipients.

The value of these mitzvot will accrue over time, gaining interest as they continue to influence others in a positive way. In this sense, any measure of overall success would be dependent upon how much good we have done in this world.

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 45 – Appreciating Others

Tiferes shebbe Malchut: Harmony within Kingship

Tiferes represents harmony, beauty, and compassion. In relation to malchus (sovereignty), tiferes may be rendered as the amount of compassion expressed towards others, when honoring another person’s autonomy, dignity, and self-worth. A healthy respect for the autonomy of others includes an appreciation of who they are as unique individuals.

Additionally, in order to appreciate the other, it may be necessary, to step out of the “egoic shell.” A preoccupation with self will not allow an individual to see beauty in the lives of others. To be sovereign over oneself, to the extent that the door is closed to others, has the propensity to leave an emptiness, devoid of the vicissitudes of life – the ever changing moments. In other words, self autonomy should not preclude vulnerability; for, as is mentioned by the poet, John Donne, “no man is island.”

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 37 Ma’oz Tzur

Omer: Day 37 Gevurah shebbe Yesod

Gevurah shebbe Yesod: Power of Foundation

Otherwise rendered as the strength of foundation.

What is the strength of my foundation? Will my foundation stand on its own? Or do I need additional support from other sources? I would be the first to admit, that my foundation sometimes seems weak and wobbly. Other times, my foundation appears sturdy enough to keep me safe and secure. I do not always seek extra support; nor, do I consistently build upon my foundation, in order to strengthen it against adversity ahead of time. Yet, prevention measures are important, knowing that the storms of life will not cease to occur from time to time.

In regard to my chosen derech (path) in life, the terrain ahead of me is full of challenges. Yet, my foundational beliefs will sustain me, if I make every effort to increase my understanding day by day. Ultimately, my source of strength is from G’d, because my own power is limited. In recognition of the greater strength of G’d, I know that my foundation rests upon solid ground. When the tides of change will make waves strong enough to sweep away the unwary, I will stand upon a Rock. Ma’oz Tzur.

Omer: Day 36 Foundational Love

Omer: Day 36 Chesed shebbe Yesod

Today begins seven days of emphasis on the middah (character trait) of yesod, meaning foundation, amongst other renderings, such as covenant, bonding, and Tzaddik (Righteous One). Where is the stability in our lives? Are there consistent factors in our lives that contribute to a sense of stability? Or are we standing on shifting sands, always changing with the winds of the time? Trends and societal norms will always change; yet, lasting values are grounded in sound ethical, religious, or moral principles. G-d is key to my foundation in life. If at all possible, I would hope and pray that every aspect of my life be permeated by His wisdom.

Today’s unique combination of sefirot, expressed as middot (otherwise referred to as soul attributes), is chesed shebbe yesod (rendered as love within foundation). Chesed may also be rendered as mercy, kindness, or loving-kindness. How is my foundation built? If not with love as a quality that can be found within all of the building blocks, then how will that structure provide shelter for others? Moreover, I need to create a place within my foundational beliefs that permits space for others to grow in their own beliefs. In order to provide for respect, tolerance, and kindness toward others, chesed is key.

Omer: Day 31 Kaleidoscopic Splendor

Omer: Day 31 Tiferes shebbe Hod

Tiferes shebbe Hod: Beauty within Splendor

(Otherwise rendered as harmony within humility).

As explained elsewhere, only through bowing down in our hearts to the splendor of the L-RD, may we also acquire splendor, by way of reflecting His Splendor. Therefore, we may find through harmonizing ourselves enough to show deference to G-d, we may bear the light bestowed upon us through our reconciliation with Him. By way of harmonizing ourselves, I mean to bring the soul into alignment with truth, by sifting through the various inconsistencies in character, called from a psychological perspective, “cognitive dissonance.” Ideally, the result would be like viewing the shapes combined into patterns within the kaleidoscope of our soul. Imagine all of the variegated shapes being lit up by light in the background; this effect would be akin to G-d’s splendor being reflected by our souls.

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 30 Stand Humble

Omer: Day 30 Gevurah shebbe Hod

Gevurah shebbe Hod: Power within Splendor

The splendor of the L-RD is energized by the eternal source of Life that is synonymous with His existence: He existed before the beginning and brought all into being. Therefore, any sense of strength that we might have as human beings, is ultimately only from Him. And, furthermore, we are most able to reflect His splendor through our humility, in acknowledgment of His greater splendor.

The strength of humility, contrary to misconceptions, is not found in cowardice, nor timidity.  We should be aware of the potential for false humility, that manifests as emotional imposters in our hearts, claiming that we may not be worthy enough, courageous enough, or strong enough to stand up against evil. If we are able to face the negative aspects of our own character, then we can also make a difference by challenging wrongs found outside of us.

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 28 Whose Narrative Will You Follow?

Malchut shebbe Netzach: Kingdom within Endurance

The attribute of malchut may also be rendered as sovereignty, or autonomy.

Where within the quality of endurance, may autonomy be found? How does a sense of self, and personal motivation contribute to one’s endurance in the face of challenges? How much can we rely on our own autonomy, without seeking guidance from a Higher Authority? Reflect on these questions for yourself. Each person’s answer will be uniquely tailored to that person’s experience, belief, and values.

Scripture indicates that G-d would like us to be dependent upon Him, rather than see ourselves as completely independent. Yet, the more we depend upon Him, the less need there will be to depend upon others. Therefore, ironically, we become more self-sufficient in the eyes of others, who are not aware of the source of our strength. Therefore, it may be said that endurance may occur not only through our own efforts, but through a concomitant focus on G-d.

My own sense of autonomy is rooted in G-d’s authority; then, I will never stand alone, when facing the challenges of my life. Moreover, in confrontation with others, I can rest assured, that as long as I am in right relationship with G-d, He will support me, when faced with adversity. Trusting in His sovereignty means that I can trust in the values, inculcated by scripture.

Ideally, there should be no need for me to waver, in favor of an alternate set of values being promoted by anyone who claims to know better. This is not arrogance on my part. Rather, if I humble myself to G-d’s sovereignty in my life, then I do not speak on my own behalf. Whereas society would like to claim the right to decide on the narrative norm, it has already been engraved in stone, and spoken by the mouthpieces of G-d’s spokespersons, as recorded in scripture.