The third week of the Omer focuses on Tifereth. This sephira is usually interpreted as Beauty or Compassion. So that means we’ve moved from Chesed (Loving Kindness) to Gevurah (Strength) to Tifereth (Beauty/Compassion). Tifereth is seen as a balancing force to Chesed and Gevurah.
The second week of the Omer focuses on Gevurah. There are so many ways people interpret this sephira. You see it described as severity, strength, judgement, discipline & measure, might, courage, and power — just to name a few. For me, my mind leaps directly to the Gevirah Netivah of Shekhinah — the Matriarch.
On the second night of Passover we begin the process of “counting the omer.” This 49 day period is what I’ve called before our, “trek in the desert.” It is the time of purification and growth between leaving Mitzrayim and receiving the revelation at Sinai on Shavuot. I’ve posted resources in past years, as I’ve tried to increase my observance of this practice. This year I hope you’ll join me in an exploration of the omer each week. I’ll be posting on the theme of the week and providing some resources. I hope you’ll engage in an exploration of the main “sephira” of the week with me.
A quick explanation of the practice is well summarized by the folks at RitualWell.org:
For many people, the “counting of the Omer”—these 49 days—provides a time for reflection and growth, often using the seven “lower” emanations of God in the kabbalistic system as spiritual themes for each day and week.
Each week there is a “lead” sephira” and each of the others is put “within” that lead. You’ll see it phrased as Chesed within Chesed (חסד שבחסד) or Gevirah within Chesed (גברה שבחסד). If you read Hebrew, you can use this template I created a couple of years ago to follow along (PeelaPom Omer Calendar PDF). It starts at the top right and moves to the left. When you finish a row, you return the first square on the right on the row below.
This week in counting the omer we begin with Chesed, or “loving kindness.” It was this concept that made me want to engage others in conversation about this whole process. How amazing is it that after 400 years of slavery and an Exodus from Miztrayim, the first thing we are asked to explore is loving-kindness!
The first week, which explores Chesed (loving-kindness), looks like this:
- Loving-kindness within Loving-kindness
- Strength within Loving-kindness
- Compassion (Beauty) within Loving-kindness
- Endurance within Loving-kindness
- Glory within Loving-kindness
- Connection within Loving-kindness
- Majesty within Loving-kindness
The question to ask with each, is “What does this mean to me?” Each day, explore what the idea of sephira within a sephir triggers for you. How is Strength (Gevurah) within Loving-Kindness (Chesed) different than Loving-Kindness (Chesed) within Strength (Gevurah)? Keep a journal or just let the thoughts float to the surface. Either way, take the moment to see what things brings up for you.
If you Count the Omer at night, then you might want to follow the tradition practices. RitualWell.org has the full text in masculine and feminine Hebrew, transliterated, and in English.
I’ll also be using many external resources to explore the meaning of the omer this year. Here are some of my favorites. I hope you’ll what techniques and resources you are using to explore, internalize, and understand the omer.
Omer Counting Resources:
- Ritual Well: Counting the Omer
- NeoChasid: Counting the Omer
- Centre for Jewish Studies: Omer Calendar based on Plants Mentioned in the Tanach
- My Jewish Learning: How to Count the Omer
- Chabad: Counting the Omer
- Telshemesh: Passover and the Harvest
I’m very excited about adding Pauline Frankenberg’s plant-based omer counter this year. I’m making little sheets for myself that have each week on one piece of paper with her images. I wish I could ask her why she chose each plant. But, hopefully I can come up with my own reasons and be able to share them.
I hope you’ll join in this exploration with me and share your experiences.
Iyyar (אִייָר), according to tradition, is an acronym for Ani Adonai Rofecha, “I am G-d your Healer“ (Exodus 15:26) generally falls between the months of April and May. According to Inner.org, “Isaachar is the scholarly tribe [associated with Iyyar]. Iyyar is the month of introspection for self-improvement.” This beautifully describes the modern approach to counting the omer. It is a time to explore our relationship to ourselves and the world, and can be a time for deep spiritual healing. There are two phases to the healing of Iyyar. The month, according to the system developed by Rabbi Jill Hammer in the Jewish Book of Days, moves from the elements of Earth within Air to Water within Fire. This is also reflected in the kabbalistic system associated with the counting of the omer during the month of Iyyar.