Lag b'Omer at Fenway Park
Kedushat Levi on the census as sacred study

A strong foundation: week six of the Omer

It's hard to believe there are only two more weeks of the Omer. During this penultimate week of the counting -- week six of the Omer -- we enter the sefirah of Yesod. Yesod is usually translated as "foundation." This is the sefirah which translates our intellectual and spiritual understanding into action which can connect us with God, linking the lofty structures of our mind and spirit with the tangible world.

The foundations of several small altars in Coba, Quintana Roo.

This week I ask, what foundation am I building for myself, for my family, for my community, for God? What's "foundational" in my life, and what structures am I creating on that foundation?

Yesod is associated with the procreative organs. Yesod is where masculine and feminine energies come together and are united into something new. (As it says on the homepage for the Yesod Foundation, a nonprofit which seeks to share Reb Zalman's renewed Jewish spirituality, "Yesod is the foundation of future generations.") This week I ask, am I in touch with the part of me that wants to produce and create something new in the world, and how am I directing that impulse?

Yesod can be understood as a bridge: between our thoughts and the world in which we enact those thoughts, between one person and the next. This week I ask, am I doing everything I can to be a bridge between people, between different understandings of the world, between one community and another?

Some associate yesod with the moon, since this is the sefirah which reflects the light of the other sefirot into malkhut, the final sefirah (about which I'll write next week.) This week I ask, how can I reflect the light of those who inspire me?

Yesod is associated with the figure of the tzaddik, the righteous person; in Proverbs 10:25 we read that "the tzaddik is the foundation (yesod) of the world." I tend to find resonance in the Hasidic understanding that very few people are wholly tzaddikim (righteous ones) or rasha'im (wicked ones) -- most of us are beynonim, "in-betweens," struggling to balance our good impulses with our wicked ones -- but this week I ask, how are my actions building the world in which I want to live? What foundation am I establishing with my actions and my behavior? Will that foundation support the structures I yearn to create?