Guest Author - Lisa Pinkus
The commandment to Count the Omer (Sefirot Ha’Omer) comes directly from the Torah. The word Omer means “measure” and on the second day of Passover, Jews would bring an offering of barley to the Temple. From that day until the festival of Shavuot, they counted the days.
Although we no longer bring the barley offering, we continue to count seven weeks of seven days - from the time of Passover, honoring our liberation from the land of Egypt, to Shavuot, when we received the Torah and were bound – as a people – to its Laws.
The spiritual implication of the Count is quite powerful. Having been recently freed from slavery, we were not ready to accept and take upon G-d’s Torah. Preparation through the gift of time was essential to our growth & development and our ability to commit.
Today, too, we can utilize this time between Passover and Shavuot as a circumstance for furthering our own engagement in Jewish life. We can create an opportunity for development, empowerment, and commitment to our Jewish identity. We can use it as a self-evaluation tool to ensure we are living and acting in a manner that matches our values and standards.
The second week of the Omer is the week of Gevurah or discipline. Other meanings given to Gevurah include justice or discernment, but I like discipline because you can apply it on many different levels. If you are disciplined in something, that effort can lead to freedom. For example, if you are disciplined with an exercise routine, you become healthier. With increased health, you may be able to do more things than you could before. You may fit better in your clothes. You may have more energy. More freedom.
Here are some thoughts on the daily combinations for the week of Gevurah.
Chesed in Gevurah (loving-kindness in discipline): Be mindful of how you discipline your children. Are your actions coming out of love or anger? Will they provide a lesson for your children? If you don’t have children, you can look at the way you “discipline” yourself. Are you too hard on yourself? Do you set realistic expectations? Do you treat yourself and your goals with loving-kindness?
Gevurah in Gevurah (discipline in discipline): Be disciplined with discipline – no matter what area of your life. Are you truly disciplined or are you too rigid? What is the difference? Are you committed or are you inflexible?
Tiferet of Gevurah (compassion in discipline): Ensure, today, that any disciplinary actions toward your children, employees or your self exemplify your love.
Netzach of Gevurah (endurance in discipline): Are you consistent? If not, spend some time defining what you believe in and what’s important to you. Determine how you need to act so that you are a living example of your beliefs.
Hod of Gevurah (splendor in discipline): Withhold your judgments. Whether you are at work or with your family, work as a team. Be a leader, not a ruler.
Yesod of Gevurah (bonding in discipline): Spend some time talking with your spouse about your discipline values. Make sure you have a unified front.
Malchut of Gevurah (dignity in discipline): Re-examine your discipline techniques – whether it’s disciplining your children or how you discipline yourself to eat right and exercise. Do your methods boost self-esteem or demean it?