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May 2019 KoREH News

Accounting for Our Kindness

As a child, I was always taught by parents, teachers, and adults of all stripes to “count my blessings.” For many years, the idea of focusing on the positive things in life and pushing ourselves to find things for which we can be grateful, even in tough times, has spoken to me in a powerful way. To be able to name the things with which we are blessed in life is an important skill and an essential tool in keeping ourselves emotionally and spiritually healthy.

But identifying those blessings is not always easy. It takes active thought and reflection to be honest about what is going on in our own lives and that can be a challenge day to day. Sometimes, it’s hard to even know where to begin.

We, however, are blessed to have a guide to a personal, spiritual accounting of our lives built right into the ebb and flow of the Jewish year. Right now, we are entering a period known as the Omer, a forty-nine-day period which extends from the second night of Passover all the way until Shavuot. Each night, we pause what we are doing, count which day we are on, and say a blessing to mark the sacred space we are creating.

But our tradition goes even further. Each of the seven weeks of the Omer has a quality associated with it, beginning with chesed (kindness). The idea is that each day of that week, we ask ourselves how we are manifesting, understanding, and appreciating that attribute in our own lives. Each time we count a day of the Omer, our Tradition asks us to look into our own hearts and minds and to be honest with ourselves.

Where have I been kind to myself? Where have I failed to give myself enough credit? In what ways have I extended kindness to others, without judging whether they deserved it at that moment or not?

It is not coincidental that we are in the seventh month of the Jewish year, half way between last Yom Kippur and next year. Now is the time to honestly look at ourselves and see if we have been living up to our values. Am I the kind of friend, parent, boss, sibling, spouse, person that I want to be?

Throughout this period of the Omer, I invite you to take an honest look at the way you interact with others, as well as how you treat yourself. Every day will be different, but each time we take a close look at how we live our lives, we produce a sacred moment where change, growth, learning, and love are possible. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can learn on this journey together!
Fri, December 13 2019 15 Kislev 5780