This week's portion: Gevurah (Kedoshim)
Kol b'seder in the J-blogosphere (now that Jeff Klepper's here)


Blessed are You, Eternal our God, sovereign of all worlds, who releases the bound.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and it takes all of my willpower just to overcome my yetzer ha-ra and climb out of bed this morning. I make it to North Street, where it takes another act of will to drag myself out of the car and across the street and into the yoga studio.

The instructor invites us to close our eyes, to be aware of what it's like to inhabit this body right now, and realization washes over me: being present is the only thing that's called for. Whatever practice I'm capable of is exactly the practice I need to do today. The hard part is overcoming the voice that says I won't be able to do it so I might as well not try. The part of me that hangs back at the edge of the sea, afraid to take the first step.

Source of Mercy! With loving strength, untie my tangles.

I'm tense and knotted, God. It's force of habit. I'm braced against my own mistakes. And I'm a woman in America in the twenty-first century, which means I've spent a lifetime internalizing messages about what kind of body I should have. Those messages turn my psyche into macramé. It's so easy to feel like I'm too this and not enough that and next thing I know my body is a straitjacket. Help me lower my shoulders, God. Help me open my heart.

From the straits I called to You; You answered me with expansiveness.

From the physical straits of tension and tightness. From the emotional straits of anxiety and uncertainty. From the intellectual straits of habitual thinking. From everything in me that's been coiled and yearns now to expand.

You answer me with liberation. With openings. What was cosy in the fall is starting to feel too snug; what have I outgrown? The change in light is calling me to relinquish these too-tight places and begin to unfurl. I don't know what's been germinating, what the remnants of last year have nourished in me, but You're calling me to find out.

Today is the fourth day of the Omer: netzach within chesed, endurance within lovingkindness. A day to explore the light and love, openness and generosity, that endure.

"Who releases the bound" is one of the fifteen morning blessings said daily.

"Untie my tangles" is from Ana b'Koach, part of the morning liturgy; also recited after Counting the Omer.

"From the straits" is a line from Psalm 118, part of Hallel, recited daily during Pesach.

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