day 8 of Omer HaTeshuvah begins the evening of September 10, 2020 (22 Elul)
qualities of focus: Chesed (Loving-kindness) within Gevurah (Discipline, Strength, Healthy Boundaries).
the practice of Omer HaTeshuvah
Read, say, or chant any or all of the following:
Tonight begins Day 8 of Omer HaTeshuvah, of counting down the days as we turn towards Rosh HaShanah. It’s the seventh day of the sixth week, making six complete weeks of Omer HaTeshuvah.
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.)
poetic meditations to help on your journey
Here are two poetic offerings to help with today’s journey.
The first is about the value and kindness to be found in healthy structures.
The second is in the spirit of Elul. It’s called “The Field of Forgiveness.” It’s a story from an end-of-life doula training in which I met a wonderful musician of German American heritage who’s devoted to ancestral healing.
other practices you might try
- Consider the questions, feelings or thoughts that arise as you read today’s meditation and journal what comes up for you.
- Chant the words “chesed b’gevurah” (Loving-kindness within Healthy Structure and Disciplined Focus). Use any melody or chanting modality that works for you.
- 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.
- Stand, sit, walk, or look outside, and notice where can sense the Shekhinah’s enduring presence, the enduring nature of Life.
- 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.”
- 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.“
more about this day
The seventh day of the week is focused on Chesed (Loving-kindness). After today, we enter a full week of Omer HaTeshuvah that’s focused on Chesed. In our practice, whatever we’ve been nurturing during these past days and weeks has been preparing the soil for greater Love to emerge.
The sixth week of Omer HaTeshuvah is focused on Gevurah. But the discipline, structure, focus and boundary of Gevurah don’t need to be harsh or rigid. Gevurah is about the structures, discipline, and focus that make it possible to love ourselves and each other well. It connects us to the Divine through the practice of nurturing these qualities in ourselves.
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, Chesed is expressed through Gevurah.
the turning of Elul
We’re also in the month of Elul, the month right before Rosh HaShanah. The energy of teshuvah (turning towards our most loving and beloved selves) increases during Elul, 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 refine our skillfulness. It’s about how we act, not who we are. This reckoning, this teshuvah, is about 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.
What needs 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 strength.
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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