Rabbinic round-table on Israel
Taking care

Tiferet squared

Image by Pauline Frankenberg, from her series of 49 images for Counting the Omer.

I have endless respect for folks who are able to blog the counting of the Omer in a sustained way. To offer insights on a daily basis, tracking the practical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual resonances of the shifting grid of sefirot (divine qualities in which we as humans also partake), is a major undertaking. Each day is a unique intersection of the qualities of its week and the qualities of its place within the week, and as the seven weeks of the Omer pass we move through every possible point on the spectrum.

So far I've managed a single post each week of the Omer. Not, perhaps, the same degree of discipline as daily Omer-blogging, but it's working well for me. It's a commitment, but one that coexists nicely with the many other commitments in my life. There's a nice balance to doing it this way.

"Balance" is one way of translating tiferet, the dominant quality of this third week in the counting of the Omer -- and also the dominant quality of this third day of the week. Today is the seventeenth day of the Omer, a day of tiferet she'b'tiferet -- tiferet squared.

"Harmony" is another way to render tiferet in English. Where the first week of the Omer was all about lovingkindness, and the second week was all about boundaries, this third week of the Omer is resonant with the impulse to harmonize those two things. It's the triad that makes the chord, the synthesis that turns both thesis and antithesis into something new.

Two more translations for tiferet are "compassion" and "integration." Today -- the seventeenth day of the Omer -- is a day to aim for compassion and integration, balance and harmony, in their purest and fullest form.

In the wake of Ethan's surgery yesterday, I'm trying to figure out the appropriate balance between offering help, and hovering too much. Today may I, and we, begin the work of integrating the experiences we had yesterday, harmonizing it with our ordinary life, and balancing it appropriately and compassionately in the days of recovery to come.



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