My practice over the years has been to follow the association between each day of the Omer and a unique coupling of the seven lower sefirot. (You can download the chart of the sefirot on the Favorites page). Each of the seven lower sefirot is a complex web of interrelated human and divine qualities. In simplified form, they are love, strength, balance, endurance, humility, bonding and nobility.
Beginning tonight, we will enter the second week of the Counting of the Omer, the week associated with the sefirah of g'vurah, which can be understood as strength, justice, severity, discipline and will. The second week is about contemplating the way in which we set limits for ourselves and the way we judge ourselves and others.
This has alway been a tough week for me. Like many people, I tend to be quite hard on myself. This is a good week for questioning whether my self-criticism and severity is productive or destructive, helpful or harmful.
The first day of this week, Wednesday, will be a day for contemplating the quality of chesed within g'vurah—love within discipline. It is a day on which I try to ask myself, "Do I make room for loving myself at the same time as I try to be strict with myself?" "Is my judgment of other people harsh and without compassion?"
Thursday is the pairing of g'vurah within g'vurah—discipline within discipline. I ask, "Do I exercise restraint in the way I judge myself, or is my self-judgment endless and automatic?" Has self-criticism just become a habit that takes me toward an endless spiral of self-loathing? How can I escape that cycle to reveal joy?
Love and strength are partners when I keep them in balance with each other, allowing me to be both critical and kind to myself and others. Friday--tiferet within g'vurah—is a day for thinking about maintaining a balance in the way I use my ability to judge.
This Shabbat will be the day that pairs netzach within g'vurah—endurance within strength. Personal resolutions for change and improvement require discipline over the long haul. Does my strength endure?
Sunday is the combination of hod within g'vurah—humility within strength—and it may be the most important pairing of the week. Am I able to subdue my ego in the exercise of power? Do I recognize the gifts and beauty of other people, or do I deny their integrity by using them as means to seek my own ends?
Monday will bring me to yesod within g'vurah—bonding within strength. Self-reliance alone does not necessarily make a person strong. How does my strength come from my attachment to others?
The week of g'vurah ends with malchut within g'vurah—nobility within strength. How do I use my strength and self-discipline to reach the highest within me? How do I transform firmness and discipline into mastery and courage? How does my strength make me the hero of my own life?