COUNTING THE OMER – This prayer is traditionally recited between sundown and sunrise of each day.
Day 8: Chesed she b’Gevurah
The Blessing (Day 8):
Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sephirat ha’omer.
Blessed are you, G-D, Source of Strength, You make us holy through your mitzvot, commanding us to count the Omer.
Ha yom shmonah yomim, shehem shavuah echad v yom echad l’Omer. Today is the eighth day of the Omer, which makes one week and one day of the Omer.
Week Two – Gevurah (Discernment, Restraint, Strength) This is the second week of the Omer, which focuses on Gevurah. On the Tree of Life, traditional interpretations describe that each aspect of G-D’s consciousness was revealed in a certain order, with Chesed being the first aspect to be shown. As we briefly reviewed last week on Day 2, Gevurah represents discernment, strength, restraint, and focus. It discerns the right course of action, rather than blindly condemning or acting judgmental. Gevurah can be visualized as a set of sieves or filters, each slightly more selective than the prior, thereby screening out the irrelevant, distracting, or harmful and allowing what is helpful and good to pass through. In this way, Gevurah was revealed immediately after Chesed as a way to funnel the forceful flow of Lovingkindness, so we can apply it to our lives and in the world in a way that is effective and focused. This week, we encounter each sephirot for the second time, but with slight changes in the approach. Last week we considered each in relation to how it influences Chesed (Lovingkindness). This week, we will focus on how each has an impact on Gevurah (Discernment). Interestingly, Gevurah is associated with the LEFT ARM or SHOULDER. So often it is the right arm that is considered to be the one of strength, as most people are right-handed and the right arm becomes the stronger. So why is the LEFT ARM/SHOULDER associated with Gevurah? It may be because Gevurah refers to a different kind of strength; a more subtle kind of strength; the strength to direct without dominating, to restrain impulsive actions with thoughtfulness rather than physical power.
Day Eight- Chesed she b’Gevurah (Lovingkindness within Discernment) – RIGHT SHOULDER to LEFT SHOULDER
Chesed she b’Gevurah involves caring about others while being clear about our own boundaries. It also involves making good judgments by looking beneath the surface of a situation, seeking the loving solution to difficult problems. A great example is the Judgment of Solomon. King Solomon was confronted with two women, each claiming that the infant they brought before him belonged to her. King Solomon used Chesed she b’Gevurah to discern a loving decision. He suggested that the baby be divided in two and they each take half, knowing that the true mother would reject the suggestion, as she would rather give up her claim to him than bear to have her child hurt. King Solomon’s judgment has long been an example of profound wisdom; his suggestion was not to seek the appearance of fairness, but rather an answer through which love would be revealed.
By discerning and restraining our impulses we can more deeply understand the deep flow of love within them. Each time we stop ourselves from impulsive behavior in realization that such behavior could harm someone we love, we are acting from Lovingkindness within Discernment. We judge our actions, choose with love, sure that those choices lead to harmony and healing.
**Much of today’s email has come from and been inspired by Rabbi Min Kantrowitz’s amazing book “Counting the Omer: A Kabbalistic Meditation Guide”