Pesach or Passover which we begin celebrating tonight marks the start of an eight dayholiday. However tomorrow night we start counting the 49 days that begin with Pesach and end with Shavuot: the 49 days between the exodus from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai. We call these 49 days the Omer. Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, provides a contemplative way of counting the Omer. The bottom seven (of the ten) sephirot (divine emanations) are each assigned to one of the seven weeks of the Omer and then reassigned to each day of each of those weeks. Each sephirah corresponds to particular values and character traits as well as particulate anatomical parts. A seasonal contemplative or meditation exercise is to consider the pairing to two such values or character traits on each day of the Omer, except that on one day of each week one of the sephirot is paired with itself, and on those days one considers and tries to reconcile two aspects of the same sephirah.
The bottom seven sephirot are:
7) Chesed (kindness/compassion/generosity/love of God/inspiring vision, but also lack of limits or boundaries) anatomy: some say right arm, others say right shoulder,
6) Gevurah (Severity/strength/rigor/judgment/intention/withholding/awe of God, but also excessive force, inflexibility, and inability to adapt) anatomy: some say left arm, others say left shoulder,
5) Tiferet (“Beauty”: Symmetry/mercy/balance between Chesed and Gevurah in compassion/an abundance of heart) anatomy: some say thorax, others say heart,
4) Netzach (Victory/determination to overcome/Initiative/persistence) anatomy: right leg,
3) Hod (Splendor/withdrawal/surrender/sincerity) anatomy: left leg,
2) Yesod (Foundation/applying oneself the task to accomplish/wholly remembering/coherent knowledge) anatomy: some say the penis, others say the reproductive organs in general,
1) Machut (Monarchy/receptivity/inclusion/acceptance/nurturance/female vessel for the pregnant nurturing of the male lights of sephirot 2-7 into action/becomes the Divine repository for any subsequent lower level in Creation/accomplishment/realization of the Divine Plan/Divine will connects to material creation through the union of Yesod and Malchut) anatomy: some say vagina and uterus, others say the feet.
On each of the 49 days we consider or contemplate:
1) The Chesed of Chesed (kindness and generosity vs. lack of limits or boundaries)
2) The Gevruah of Chesed (the strength that enables one to be generous and kind)
3) The Tiferet of Chesed (the beauty or compassion of kindness and generosity)
4) The Netzach of Chesed (taking the initiative to be kind and generous and perseverance in same)
5) The Hod of Chesed (sincerity of kindness and generosity)
6) The Yesod of Chesed (applying oneself to the task of being kind and generous)
7) The Malchut of Chesed (receptivity or being accepting and inclusive as an expression of kindness and generosity)
8) The Chesed of Gevurah (kindness as an expression of strength)
9) The Gevurah of Gevurah (strength vs. rigidity)
10) The Tiferet of Gevurah (centeredness, balance and mercy as an expression of strength)
11) The Netzach of Gevurah (determination and persistence as expressions of strength)
12) The Hod of Gevurah (withdrawal or surrender as sincere expressions of strength)
13) The Yesod of Gevurah (focused attention and intention as applications of strength)
14) The Malchut of Gevurah (receptivity and nurturance as expressions of strength)
15-21) each sephirah’s values and traits as expressions of beauty or compassion
22-28) each sephirah’s values and traits as a kind of perseverance or overcoming an obstacle
29-35) each sephirah’s values and traits as a expressions of splendor/withdrawal/surrender/sincerity
36-42) expressing each sephirah’s values and traits by translating them into action, focused attention, and intention
43-49) each sephirah’s values and traits as a expressions of receptivity and nurturance.
Try it and see if it doesn’t make counting the Omer more meaningful.
I wish all my readers a sweet Pesach. May we leave behind the inner Pharaohs that keep us from becoming our most authentic selves.