Tonight begins the thirty-sixth day of the Counting of the Omer, five weeks and one day. It is the day of the divine quality of Chesed within Yesod, Love within Foundation. Your relationships with others are the foundation of your life. Do you allow genuine caring and compassion into all your interactions with others? Do you sometimes treat people as a means to your end, or do you appreciate their humanity?
Tonight begins the thirty-fifth day of the Counting of the Omer, five weeks. It is the day of the divine quality of Malchut within Hod, Nobility within Humility. Our greatest humility reveals our greatest nobility. When we are able to see our lives as defined by our service to others, we raise ourselves to the greatest heights.
Tonight begins the thirty-fourth day of the Counting of the Omer, four weeks and six days. It is the day of the divine quality of Yesod within Hod, Foundation within Humility. When less of our energy is invested in propping up our egos, we can put more of ourselves into connecting with others. Does lowering your ego isolate you from others, or does it draw you closer by allowing you to see the beauty in everyone?
According to tradition, the plague was a punishment for the students' lack of respect for one another. Before it ended, the plague killed 24,000 of Akiva's students (B. Yevamot 62b).
My nephew, Dovid Reed, recently pointed out a teaching to me that observes that Rabbi Akiva was a great teacher of the ideal, "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18). In the Talmud, Akiva is quoted to say that this is a great principle of the Torah. So how is it possible that his students would act so unkindly to each other? So much so, that they were punished with a plague?
One interpretation is that Akiva's students took the "as yourself" part of the commandment too literally. They were willing to love each other, but only to the extent that they saw their fellow students to be like themselves. If another student had a different opinion or a different understanding of the tradition, they saw no need to love the part that was not "as yourself."
This is a plague in our times, too. How often do we see people who claim that they love everyone, but who are willing to spit venom at people who disagree with them? In politics and in the Jewish community, we see that we are like Akiva's students who resent each other for seeing things differently.
Why did the plague end on the 33rd day of the Counting of the Omer? Every day of the Counting of the Omer is connected to the pairing of two divine attributes. This is the day of Hod within Hod — Humility within Humility. This is the day that teaches us that the real way to love others is to lower our egos, put aside our personal opinions, and see that creating peace between us is more important than being right, or proving that somebody else is wrong. It is humility before each other that allows us to love our neighbors in the way that God intends us to.
Happy Lag B'Omer.
Other Posts on This Topic:
Emor: Counting to Revelation
Vayishlach: Let's Get Small
Tonight begins the thirty-second day of the Counting of the Omer, four weeks and four days. It is the day of the divine quality of Netzach within Hod, Endurance within Humility. Having an open and accepting heart cannot just be a "sometimes" thing. Our commitment to seeing the Image of God in each person must be thorough and long enduring.
Tonight begins the thirty-first day of the Counting of the Omer, four weeks and three days. It is the day of the divine quality of Tiferet within Hod, Balance within Humility. Unchecked, humility can veer down into self-degradation. Is your humility balanced? Does it lift you or demean you?
Tonight begins the thirtieth day of the Counting of the Omer, four weeks and two days. It is the day of the divine quality of Gevurah within Hod, Discipline within Humility. Being strong and being humble may seem mutually contradictory, but these qualities actually reinforce each other. There is work involved in quieting our egos and being on guard against our own instincts toward selfishness. We must be strong in order to make ourselves open to the needs of others and to greet the world with acceptance.
Tonight begins the twenty-ninth day of the Counting of the Omer, four weeks and one day. It is the day of the divine quality of Chesed within Hod, Love within Humility. True humility lowers the ego, but it lifts the soul. How does love for those around you lift you out of selfishness and up toward selflessness?
Tonight begins the twenty-eighth day of the Counting of the Omer, four weeks. It is the day of the divine quality of Malchut within Netzach, Nobility within Endurance. Holding onto the determination to live according to the highest and best within us is not easy. Yet, we find, in the effort, that we are more able, more beautiful, and more alive than we could have imagined.
Tonight begins the twenty-seventh day of the Counting of the Omer, three weeks and six days. It is the day of the divine quality of Yesod within Netzach, Foundation within Endurance. Do your relationships with other people empower you to pursue your big goals and dreams, or are you blocking your ability to draw strength from others?
This blog is about living a joyful Jewish life and bringing joy to synagogues and the Jewish community. Join the conversation by commenting on posts and sharing your experiences. For more on the topic, read the First Post.
The Altar and the Sword
Ephraim and Manasseh
We Can Be the Storm
The Divided Nation
Life Passes by Speedily
• First Post
• Searching for How the Bible Defines Marriage
• The Difference between God and Religion
• In the Beginning of What?
• Rape, Abortion and Judaism
• Ten Thoughts about Being a Rabbi
• Temple Dues and Don'ts
• A Pesach Lesson from Yoga
• The Purpose of the Torah
Fast of Tammuz
Days of Awe
Adar (Joy Increases!)