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Reb Lisa's Message


On the Jewish calendar, we are in the middle of a period known as “Counting the Omer.” This special practice begins on the second night of Passover and culminates 49 days later on the eve of Shavuot. Omer means “sheaf.” Historically, this period marks the beginning of the barley harvest when Jews brought their first sheaves to the Temple as an offering of gratitude. It also connects the anniversary of the exodus from Egypt with the giving of Torah on Mt. Sinai.

During this 49 day journey from Redemption to Revelation we have the opportunity to work on personal refinement through the "divine attributes." This past week, the focus has been on the attribute of Hod, which n the Kabbalistic tradition translates as humility, yielding, sensitivity, gratitude.

In a time where we find ourselves increasingly divided on many issues, developing the attribute of Hod–humility and sensitivity–may serve us well. Rather than digging our heels deeper into our point of view, can we lighten up and soften our intensity?

Maybe we could even entertain stepping out of our own shoes for a bit? The attribute of Hod allows us to see things from a different perspective and garner the courage to “not know everything.” Are we willing to consider that we may not have all the answers, that we may actually get it wrong sometimes? Very humbling indeed.

I’m suddenly reminded of these timeless lyrics from Burt Bacharach:

What the world needs now,

Is love, sweet love,

It's the only thing that there's just too little of.

What the world needs now,

Is love, sweet love,

No, not just for some but for everyone.

Rigidity on both sides of the many divides we encounter keep us from fulfilling the central commandment of Torah: V’ahavta l’reacha K’mocah, Love your fellow as yourself. Can we be humble enough to love beyond our comfort zone? Beyond the divide? Can our kindness and understanding jump the boundaries of our safe circles? Because it’s easy to love those that think just like us, and agree with our point of view. But is that really love? Humility widens our circle of care. Humble hearts shrink the divide.

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