Nisan 5780 / April 2020
Every year I try to pay attention to the omer, the period of 49 days between [the second day of] Passover and Shavuot. It is supposed to be a journeying time, a time of introspection and preparation for the sublime experience of Mount Sinai. In Torah we are told to count these days.
The blessing for counting the omer is:
ברוך אתא יי אלהינו מלך העולם
אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצונו על ספירת האומר
היום יום ] [ של האומר
Ba-ruch a-ta ADONAI el-o-hei-nu mel-ech ha-olam
a-sher kid-sha-nu b-mitz-vo-tav v-tzi-va-nu
AL SFI-RAT HA-O-MER
Ha-yom yom [ number ] shel ha-omer.
Blessed is God, the Source of All
Who has given us the sacred obligation
to count the omer.
Today is the [ number ] day of the omer.
The kabbalists gave us the practice of counting by attending to seven sefirot, aspects of the Tree of Life. In this system, each week of the omer is associated with one of the sefirot; and each day within the week is also associated with a sefirah. So each day has two aspects: the weekly aspect and the daily aspect. The combination of these can guide our experience of that day.
One way to think about counting the omer is that we are drawing the holy energy of the upper worlds (where we begin our counting) down towards the world of our everyday life. I have included a practice or reflection for every day of this year’s omer. But what really calls to me this year is contemplating the particular energy of each week — hesed, gevurah, tiferet, netzach, hod, yesod, malkhut — and in every way possible sensing that downward flow of blessing from its highest nature to the most everyday. It is a powerful source of hope — that there is divine energy moving towards every moment. Of course the counting starts with hesed — compassion, generosity, lovingkindness, tenderness. If we just stay there for 49 days, that would be perfect too.
The tradition is to count the omer in the evening, at the very beginning of the day (which begins at sundown.) So I have put the evening dates for each day of the omer. For example, the first day of the omer begins at sunset on Thursday night, April 9, and it continues until sunset on April 10.
With love, Margaret
The week of HESED — compassion, kindness, flowing love. Think of the word ‘tenderness.’
DAY ONE — 4/9 HESED of HESED —Move with great tenderness.
DAY TWO — 4/10 (Shabbat) GEVURAH of HESED — Honor your own limits.
DAY THREE — 4/11 TIFERET of HESED — Look for graciousness.
DAY FOUR — 4/12 NETZACH of HESED — Look for generosity and kindness in an unexpected place.
DAY FIVE — 4/13 HOD of HESED — Try to find the tiniest possible example of generosity in the world around you.
DAY SIX — 4/14 YESOD of HESED — Try on seeing the world has holding you tenderly.
DAY SEVEN — 4/15 MALCHUT of HESED —Treat yourself nicely.
The week of GEVURAH– strength, rigor, boundaries. Think ‘endurance.’
DAY EIGHT — 4/16 HESED of GEVURAH — Appreciate your own strength.
DAY NINE — 4/17 (Shabbat) GEVURAH of GEVURAH — Insist on rest and renewal.
DAY TEN — 4/18 TIFERET of GEVURAH — Notice someone standing firm in a graceful way.
DAY ELEVEN — 4/19 NETZACH of GEVURAH — Think about an important piece of work that you don’t have energy or skills to do and affirm that you will not take it on.
DAY TWELVE — 4/20 HOD of GEVURAH —Honor someone you see standing firm these days.
DAY THIRTEEN — 4/21 YESOD of GEVURAH — Think about the strength of your forbearers and draw some of that into yourself.
DAY FOURTEEN — 4/22 MALCHUT of GEVURAH —Get through the day!
The week of TIFERET– beauty, balance. Contemplate ‘gentleness.’
DAY FIFTEEN — 4/23 HESED of TIFERET — Bring a soft touch to the day.
DAY SIXTEEN — 4/24 (Shabbat) GEVURAH of TIFERET — Rest deeply and luxuriously.
DAY SEVENTEEN — 4/25 TIFERET of TIFERET — Immerse yourself in beauty.
DAY EIGHTEEN — 4/26 NETZACH of TIFERET — Paradox: allow gentleness to overcome something jagged and harsh.
DAY NINETEEN — 4/27 HOD of TIFERET — Bring quiet into your day.
DAY TWENTY — 4/28 YESOD of TIFERET — Explore hidden stillnesses.
DAY TWENTY-ONE — 4/29 MALCHUT of TIFERET — Don’t be hard on yourself.
The week of NETZACH — power, conquest. Think of ‘getting it done.’
DAY TWENTY-TWO — 4/30 HESED of NETZACH — Take another day to be kind to yourself.
DAY TWENTY-THREE — 5/1 (Shabbat) 5/2 GEVURAH of NETZACH — Notice your quality of commitment.
DAY TWENTY-FOUR — 5/2 TIFERET of NETZACH — Discern whether more or less of your energy energy is called for in a situation.
DAY TWENTY-FIVE — 5/3 NETZACH of NETZACH — Struggle mightily for something you care about, even just for a minute.
DAY TWENTY-SIX — 5/4 HOD of NETZACH — Let someone else take the lead.
DAY TWENTY-SEVEN — 5/5 YESOD of NETZACH — Reflect on what is “yours” to do in this world.
DAY TWENTY-EIGHT — 5/6 MALCHUT of NETZACH — Say what you think and feel.
The week of HOD — thankfulness, humility. Explore surrender.
DAY TWENTY-NINE — 5/7 HESED of HOD — Concede gently what you cannot accomplish.
DAY THIRTY — 5/8 (Shabbat) GEVURAH of HOD — Feel your fatigue.
DAY THIRTY-ONE — 5/9 TIFERET of HOD — Contemplate what others do for you and what you do for yourself.
DAY THIRTY-TWO — 5/10 NETZACH of HOD — Notice when it is time to give in.
DAY THIRTY-THREE (LAG B’OMER) — 5/11 HOD of HOD — Bow before what you cannot change.
DAY THIRTY-FOUR — 5/12 YESOD of HOD — Reflect on how much of your life is built on the vision and struggle of others.
DAY THIRTY-FIVE — 5/13 MALCHUT of HOD — Thank someone.
The week of YESOD — foundation, blueprint, plan. Think ‘meaning.’
DAY THIRTY-SIX — 5/14 HESED of YESOD — Contemplate the web of generosity which makes your own daily life work as well as it does.
DAY THIRTY-SEVEN — 5/15 (Shabbat) GEVURAH of YESOD — Contemplate oneness.
DAY THIRTY-EIGHT — 5/16 TIFERET of YESOD — Contemplate your place in the cosmos.
DAY THIRTY-NINE — 5/17 NETZACH of YESOD —Allow a sense of wholeness to meet up with something broken.
DAY FORTY — 5/18 HOD of YESOD — Honor someone doing a piece of good work in the world that you don’t contribute to yourself.
DAY FORTY-ONE — 5/19 YESOD of YESOD — Contemplate and bless the natural order that sustains us all.
DAY FORTY-TWO — 5/20 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of YESOD —See if you can find some sense in something that seems senseless.
The week of MALCHUT — the present moment, this world. Think, “This is it.”
DAY FORTY-THREE — 5/21 HESED of MALCHUT — Do something kind where it is needed.
DAY FORTY-FOUR — 5/22 (Shabbat) GEVURAH of MALCHUT — Turn off your screens for awhile.
DAY FORTY-FIVE — 5/23 TIFERET of MALCHUT — Beautify something ugly (or appreciate it’s ugliness!)
DAY FORTY-SIX — 5/24 NETZACH of MALCHUT — Do something practical.
DAY FORTY-SEVEN — 5/25 HOD of MALCHUT — Recognize that you are contributing to good in the world, even if you don’t see success.
DAY FORTY-EIGHT — 5/26 YESOD of MALCHUT — Contemplate your schedule, how you spend your time and, if it feels warranted, try to make a change there.
DAY FORTY-NINE — 5/27 (Shabbat) MALCHUT of MALCHUT — Eat, drink, bathe, and do other daily things with delight.
SHAVUOT — 5/28-29(Tikkun Leil Shavuot will be on the night of 5/28.)