Walk with balance, walk with strength

Yesterday was the Tenth Day of the Omer - tiferet in g'vurah - balanced beauty in strength.

At our Talmud lunch today, we studied the midrash about Abraham breaking idols (Bereishit Rabah 38:13).

The conclusion focuses on the power of Abraham's connection with God - Abraham walks through a fire unscathed on account of his spiritual prowess.

Perhaps the strength that we can find is one that allows us to find the difficult path through hazardous places - both within and without. This is strength that relies on balance - endurance that allows us to choose our steps and paths wisely.

Finding the right footing helps us walk with strength.

Inner balance leads to strong steps in the right direction.

Balanced Caring

The third day of the week focuses on the idea of tiferet - the harmony that comes when all things are balanced. Harmony in the area of loving-kindness - an important and occasionally subtle idea.

Devoting ourselves to caring for one another can drain our resources for self-care. When we work in a caring field - and probably every job today has an aspect of caring for one another - we can over-extend at the expense of other areas as well.

To find harmony as we care and devote ourselves to kindness is to understand that there is such a thing as too much. Giving until it hurts is not a solution.

Give, take stock, and take care, so that we can continue to be kind and loving another day.

Day Thirty-Eight of the Omer

Tiferet in Yesod - balanced harmony and beauty in a solid foundation.

These two concepts are picture perfect, precisely honed, needle in a haystack, ideals. I am often intimidated by an ideal - can I really push for that thing that is so far out there, so beyond my capacity?

I recently read a beautiful Hasidic teaching that helps me with a lot of problems: the world is finely balanced between, on the one hand, creative deeds and thoughts, and on the other, destructive deeds and thoughts. Every positive thought and deed that we muster contributes to the leaning of the world toward greater creativity and repair.

The ideals of balance and wholeness are meant to be difficult to reach - they are ideals after all. In reaching for them we make a difference in ourselves and all of creation, because all of the quanta matter.

Day Twenty-Four of the Omer

Tiferet in Netzach - balanced harmony in eternity.

As the harmonization between rigor and compassion, I fully embrace the challenge of attempting to be a parent for the long term, and how much that beautiful balance must be a part of it.

To set a standard, enforce it, and then when broken, be compassionate to our children so that they can learn and grow from the experience. So that they will still turn to us and not fear us too much. So that they can engage with the world and its rules as adventurers and not be oppressed by the weight of it all.

This is a challenge!

Day Twenty-One of the Omer

Malchut in Tiferet - sovereignty, where ideas meet reality, in the concept of beauty and balance.

Thinking leads to doing, and doing often undoes our thinking. Seldom do the best of our plans survive implementation, and so there is great humility in putting something out there and seeing what happens next.

Let us not fear reality-testing our ideas, let us put them forward boldly, and accept their alteration when they leave our heads and hearts and connect with others.

Something truly beautiful happens when we release the concept to be transformed by conversations that take place beyond the place of genesis.

Day Twenty of the Omer

Yesod in Tiferet - a solid foundation in the balance of compassion and rigor.

High ideals and values - caring and justice, self and community - can often dominate my thinking when at some point I must entertain how the thing actually applies - where is the solid footing of my grand plan?

As a person who spends much time deliberating, turning those deliberations into something that can be concretely implemented often comes as a wake-up call.

So, aim high and think deeply, and then embrace the need to have a foundation, a connection to the ground on which the plan will happen, we hope.

Day Nineteen of the Omer

Hod in Tiferet - grace and smallness in balance and harmony.

Composing thousands of seemingly irrelevant tiny details into a harmonious and beautiful whole - this is the stuff of artists and facilitators of all sorts.

Finding that one small thing, that one shard of our being, or someone else's essential contribution, that may contribute to a balanced outcome, there we discover a vital smallness in something beautiful.

Overcome the noise and the distractions and notice that detail that makes the difference. I try to thank the source of the idea or innovation once I've found it too.

Day Eighteen of the Omer

Netzach in Tiferet - eternity and victory, even ego, in balanced harmony.

I usually default to selflessness when thinking about achieving balance. Call it a corrective to the notion that I have been less caring about others in the past.

Still, self-care, self-protection, and even an appropriate degree of self-interest help balance any evaluation, when we want our part to be successful too.

Include reasonable self-concern when aiming for long term success.

Day Seventeen of the Omer

[From earlier in the day.]

Tiferet in Tiferet - beauty, balance, and harmony, in itself.

Tiferet also implies the harmonizing of love and structure, Chesed and Gevurah.

Every mixture needs to be balanced - to find that harmony we have to have the idea of it in mind, a goal, a hope.

We make progress when we aim high - start with a balanced vision.

Day Sixteen of the Omer

Gevurah in Tiferet - strength and discipline in beauty.

This seems like an easily supported cultural pairing. The world today easily acknowledges the power, discipline, and strength, that support the core of publicly accepted people and objects of beauty.

In forging a life that aims at harmonious balance though, I often imagine myself using gentler qualities than strength. I think of my psyche as something that I am often too hard on, and therefore need to handle more carefully.

Accomplishing a beautiful and balanced result may take strength and discipline judiciously applied over a long time. Let us remember that the finest works are often crafted over decades, and not in mere minutes.

Day Fifteen of the Omer

Chesed in Tiferet - Compassion in harmoniously balanced beauty.

Our Omer Counting asks us to begin each of our value reflections with compassion and caring. Start with that, and then we have a chance of things working out.

Tiferet, like any representation of beauty, may be susceptible to being over-simplified. When we look at beauty starting with compassion, perhaps a vital aspect will be to kindly inject complexity.

"It's complicated" can be a way of implying something is beautiful in a way that can't be explained. We can offer complexity as a sign that we care, that we understand that the difficulties on the surface may be getting in the way of seeing the harmony within.

Kindness and complexity contribute to a deep sense of beauty.

Day Ten of the Omer

Beautiful balance in strength and discipline.

Let us use this day to expand our internal images of strength and beauty. I believe we are assaulted by impossible to achieve ideas of these concepts. Let's work on updating our internal pictures of these ideals.

Beautiful balance - we seek it in relationships that mesh just right, sometimes only once in a while; we aim for it in the recognition of the faces of all ages and stages around us engaged in profound joy at existence.

Strength and discipline - found in the attention to our efforts that require regular attention; seen in the people around us who devote time and energy to difficult tasks and get them done even when others find them too difficult.

The Omer gives us the opportunity to reflect on the meanings of words that may have been overwhelmed by forces outside our control. Let us take back these definitions and use them well.

Day 45 of the Omer - inspire the moment

Tiferet in Malchut - balanced beauty in the implementation of divine presence into reality.

Ever been perched on one of those moments when all is ready and we have done everything possible to be prepared and our anticipation is a thrill of perfect beginning?

This could be a physical preparation - about to start a race, or look down the perfect ski slope. An intellectual, social, or emotional endeavor - sitting down to write when we've done the right mental preparation, or sitting across from a person we've been eagerly waiting to talk to for a long time. It could be a spiritual moment - finally getting the chance to sit and reflect or meditate on something important.

All of these reflect some of the great balance and beauty of injecting Tiferet into the next moment of doing. Let us balance our expectations with preparations, and infuse the next minute with some inspired excitement.

Happy Friday, Shabbat Shalom, and more great counting everyone!

Day 38 of the Omer - higher and lower balance

Tiferet in Yesod - lofty balance of principles in the grounded balance of applications.

Keeping high minded ideas of balance and beauty as guides while in the thick of crafting the basics almost requires some cognitive dissonance.

Still, the two notions - a balance between intellectual concepts of beauty and a sturdy balance grounded in connecting to actually creating - fortify each other.

We aim to dig trenches that eventually lead to beautiful structures. All of this in the hope of fulfilling ideals balanced between other important values.

Including everything takes patience and attention - include some counting too!

Day 31 of the Omer - balanced self-reduction

Tiferet in Hod - harmonious beautiful fine-tuned balance in smallness and grace.

We know that we should embrace some sense of smallness, to self-diminish and withdraw to make room for the growth of others. This is called tzimtzum by the Kabbalists and they imagine the Infinite reducing in order to create.

Doing this well requires a light and balanced touch - too much space and growth isn't cultivated, too much and it is stymied. A garden can easily be abandoned or over-attended - neither leads to flourishing growth or partnership.

Hold values in mind, pause and reflect, and then figure out the right amount of tzimtzum.

The days of the Omer are diminshing - this is the 3rd day of the 5th week.

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Day 24 of the Omer - self in communal balance

Tiferet in Netzach - balanced harmony in the enduring single self.

Thinking of our single self at the close of a week when we confront again and again our communal needs to come together - not so easy.

To find the balance between our own needs and those of our community requires a sense of the ideal harmony we aim and strive for.

As this week closes we take a breath and try to find our own place in the balance between all things, all while working to raise our eyes to the image of a better future.

Breathing, counting, coping - all the best everyone.

Wounded witness becomes key in finding bombers.

Wounded witness becomes key in finding bombers.

Day 21 of the Omer - Counting is different today

Malchut in Tiferet - the active presence of meaning realized in balanced beauty.

On this day, conceiving of balanced beauty escapes me.

I am stuck in the world of action and tragedy. Tonight, this ex-pat recovering New Yorker is a Bostonian. My heart is broken and all of its pieces are at the finish line.

May all of have lost loved ones be comforted among the mourners of Zion.

May there be healing for all those harmed, and may it come soon.

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Day 20 of the Omer - Foundation in Balance

Yesod in Tiferet - solid foundation in balanced beauty.

A day focused on the centers of balance - Tiferet a harmonization of higher thoughts and emotions, and Yesod a balance between more concrete actions and feelings - these are two foci in the Kabbalistic tree.

To find that concrete foundation within abstract balance requires great inspiration, great patience, or both!

On this 20th day of the Omer let us notice these fine points of intersection when we witness them, or when we participate in their creation. So noticing, we might be able to incorporate their harmonies ourselves, or even use them as a model for our own projects and practices.

A balanced Monday to all!

Day 19 of the Omer - Awe leads to balance

Hod in Tiferet - the grace of smallness in balanced beauty.

Humility and grace remind us of the importance of every detail in anything balanced. A beautiful image may be as much about composition, the broad strokes, as it is about every pixel being smoothed to perfection - small details make a big difference.

In a world filled with seekers of credit, we can find great satisfaction in making a contribution that gets taught by others. We can stand in awe and gratitude for merely being present to witness a beautiful moment.

Our own awe leads us to find more balance.

May every day of the Omer allow us to count small moments of harmony.

Day 18 of the Omer - Making Beauty Last

Netzach in Tiferet - the eternal self in balanced beauty.

Contributing something of our selves that lasts to a beautiful idea may only require us to make a small and careful effort.

Beautiful moments that endure, articulations that resonate, art that influences far beyond the artist - these require us to very carefully, and humbly, participate.

Have faith in the endurance of something well-thought out, and let our good efforts make their impact on their own. When we see ourselves as contributing to something larger, we can allow ourselves the satisfaction in taking part.

May each of our counted Omer contribute to our better wholes.