Countdown to Rosh HaShanah: Day 5

day 5 of Omer HaTeshuvah begins the evening of September 13, 2020 (25 Elul)

qualities of focus: Hod (Splendor, Humility) within Chesed (Loving-kindness).

This week of Omer HaTeshuvah is focused on Chesed (Loving-Kindness), which is the white circle in this image, the middle circle on the right side. (Image by Marlene Burns, copyright 2020. All rights reserved. art-marleneburns)

the practice of Omer HaTeshuvah

Read, say, or chant any or all of the following:

Tonight begins Day 5 of Omer HaTeshuvah, of counting down the days as we turn towards Rosh HaShanah. It’s the third day of the seventh week. The new year begins this Friday.

Echad, yachid, u-m’yuchad. Echad, yachid, u-m’yuchad.

One, only One, all together One. (English from Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi, z’l.)

One, every single One, each one joined and united with the One. (English source unknown.)

Rabbi Shifrah’s 49 poetic meditations for counting the Omer or Omer HaTeshuvah. Write to for a copy.

poetic meditations to help on your journey

Here are two poetic offerings to help with today’s journey.

The first is a meditation on Hod, inspired by a polished geode. By considering it’s brilliantly shined outside, and it’s natural sparkle within, we might imagine the makings of an entire loving universe.

The second is called Shema Koleynu, which means “hear our voice”, words that figure into the High Holy Day liturgy. But the English title is Hear Our Voice Inside.

When I first wrote this poem in 2015, the title referred to our private internal conversations with the Divine, and with the world around us. Now, as we all deal with versions of sheltering in place during a pandemic, an additional dimension is added to the word “inside”.

But the poem is still, as it was five years ago, a reminder to keep our hands open to giving and receiving, even when we’re not sure what we have to give, or what we hope to receive.

The poem was inspired by a quote from nineteenth century Indian writer and artist Rabindranath Tagore.

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.

R. Tagore

other practices you might try

  1. Consider the questions, feelings or thoughts that arise as you read today’s meditation and journal what comes up for you.
  2. Chant the words “hod b’chesed” (Splendor and Humility within Loving-Kindness). Use any melody or chanting modality that works for you.
  3. Sit quietly and notice your breathing. As you consider the qualities associated with this day, notice what comes up in your body. Breathe into any areas that need attention, letting out unneeded tension as you exhale.
  4. Stand, sit, walk, or look outside, and notice where can sense the Shekhinah’s enduring presence, the enduring nature of Life.
  5. You might also like to try using this kabbalistic verse about unity and unification. “L’shem yichud kudsha brichu u-shechinteh,l’shem yichud kudsha brichu u-shechinteh. For the sake of Holy Blessed One-ness, unifying with Shekhinah, Divine Presence in our lives.”
  6. Invoke the name of God using the pronunciation of each Hebrew letter of the four-letter Name Y-H-V-H. It goes like this. Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei, Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei, Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei, Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei.
One tone, shape, or aspect is held within another on a single flower – like the Kabbalistic qualities we consider during Omer HaTeshuvah.

more about this day

The third day of the week is focused on Hod, the kind of wonder in the world that leaves us humbled, grateful.

The seventh week of Omer HaTeshuvah is focused on Chesed, Loving-Kindness. Simple, direct, open-hearted loving-kindness.

Each sefirah (Divine aspect) that we explore in Omer HaTeshuvah contains within it all the others as well, and each is an aspect of God. Today, Hod is expressed through (Chesed).

the turning of Elul

We’re also in the month of Elul, the month right before Rosh HaShanah. And now we’re in the final week of Elul.

The energy of teshuvah (turning towards our most loving and beloved selves) increases, and we’re reminded to engage in a process of reckoning and forgiveness – with others, with God, and within ourselves.

As we do the sometimes difficult work of acknowledging what we’d like to repair, or heal, or shift, whether in ourselves or in our relationships with others, it’s easy to beat ourselves up. But teshuvah, I believe, is fundamentally about Love, including self-love. That’s why so many of the poems found on the blog during this time focus on love, healing, and relationship.

Reckoning and forgiveness can be difficult. Teshuvah focuses us on ways we’ve missed the mark with others, and ways we’ve been hurt by others. But it reminds us and gives us an opportunity to mend our relationships and, in the process, increase our skillfulness. It’s about refining how we act, not changing who we are. This reckoning, this teshuvah, is about lovingly focusing our attention on how we can do better.

the bottom line for today

The bottom line for today is this. Notice what needs attention for you to engage in the act of Teshuvah from a place of Love, perhaps something for which you are grateful, but which could nonetheless use tending.

It may be a relationship, or something in yourself in need of healing. Or it may be a spiritual practice that you’d like to try, or get back to.

Identify one thing you can do. Tend to your own loving presence. Cultivate gratitude. It’s Divine.

make a donation

You may be receiving this post because you signed up for the class Omer HaTeshuvah: Turning Together towards a New Year. This program is being co-sponsored with Rapha: The Center for Healing and Spirituality. Please consider making a donation to support the work of Rapha and of Rabbi Shifrah.

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About Rabbi Shifrah


I’m a rabbi, holistic teacher, interfaith chaplain, end of life doula, and poet. I have a healer’s spirit, and am dedicated to social, economic, and environmental justice. I live in Emeryville, CA with my beloved wife Ruth, with whom I’ve been happily partnered for over twenty-two years.

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