This is the day of Yesod within Hod, connection within humility. On this day, I think about how humility should be a quality that draws me closer to other people. It should make me more open and accepting of differences. It should not be an isolating experience of self-degredation, but an enriching experience that encourages greater connection.
Rabbi Akiva, the sage of the Talmud who is closely associated with Sunday's holiday of Lag B'Omer, said that the commandment to "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) is "The great principle of the Torah" (Leviticus 19:18; Y. Nedarim 30b). There is a teaching that Akiva's students were struck by a plague when they misinterpreted the verse to mean, "Love your neighbor who is as yourself." In other words, they thought that the commandment to "love your neighbor" only applied to neighbors who shared their opinions and practices.
That is a plague that is becoming more common in our society. As our culture becomes more segmented and polarized, even people who call themselves religious seem to find it easier to reserve their love only for those whom they perceive to be "like minded." True religious humility is an experience that makes us humble in our view of other people, more able to treat others with compassion, and more able to see value in people, even when they are not "as ourselves."
On this 34th day of the Counting of the Omer, I commit to finding commonality and compassion for others as a practice of love and humility. May this be a day in which you lower your ego and discover unexpected connection with others.
For the introduction to the Counting of the Omer, click on this link:
The First Day of the Counting of the Omer