We've been counting the Omer since the second day of Passover and we'll keep counting for another three weeks as we approach the holiday of Shavuot, the celebration of the giving of the Torah. Each week of the Omer is associated with one of the seven lower sefirot of the Jewish mystical tradition and each day is marked by a pairing of two sefirot. (For a chart of the sefirot, see the Resources page.)
Contemplating hod requires what I'll call a "back door" meditation. I can't really develop my sense of humility by thinking about how wonderful I am when I am humble—that sort of defeats the point of humility! But my sense of humility can be developed and deepened when I go through the psychological back door of experiencing gratitude for the wonders of a world that I did not create, and by appreciating the gifts of other people on whom I depend.
Wednesday is the 29th day of the Counting of the Omer, and it is the day of chesed within hod—love within humility. True humility lowers the ego, but it lifts the soul. On this day, I contemplate how my love for other people lifts me out of selfishness and up toward selflessness.
Thursday is the 30th day, the day of g'vurah within hod, strength within humility. This is a crucial challenge: How will I discipline myself to experience a quiet humility that enhances my sense of awe, rather than a self-deprecating humility that just makes me feel rotten about myself. It's a fine line that can only be managed by diligent self-awareness, but the difference in outcome is the difference between joy and misery.
Friday, the 31st day of the Omer, is the day of tiferet within hod, balance within humility. In order to be joyful, my humility needs to be balanced with a realistic sense of self-worth and self-respect. Where is the balance point between humility and positive self-image?
On Shabbat, I face the apparent contradiction of netzach within hod—endurance within humility—on the 32 day of the Counting of the Omer. It is the same contradiction I encounter when praying the t'filah. In the Avodah blessing I ask God to restore the divine presence to Zion, and then, immediately, offer the Hoda'ah blessing in which I express gratitude to God for the miracles in every moment. Which do I believe? Can I demand that God redeem the world from its brokenness while also admitting that every second already is a miraculous gift from God? This Shabbat is a meditation on resolving that paradox.
Sunday will be day 33, the day of hod within hod, humility within humility. It also is Lag B'Omer, the mystical holiday of transcendence. It is a day to ask if my humility real or just a cover-up for arrogance. Can I deepen my humility by appreciating the qualities of others?
Next Monday will be the 34th day of the Omer and the day of yesod within hod, bonding within humility. I ask, "Does my humility isolate me from others, or does it draw me close to others?" Does my connection to other people allow me to better appreciate their qualities?
The week of hod ends with the day of malchut within hod, nobility within humility, on day 35. I know that my spirit can soar when I release myself from ego. Does humility release my need to feed my ego and help me to lift myself up to my highest self? That is a paradox, indeed!