50 days of personal growth via 'Counting the Omer'

wil

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Now Counting the Omer is obviously Jewish, although most of the Jews I know either don't do it or know nothing about it...So I thought I'd start the thread here as while the origins and prayer is Jewish, the contemplations are quite "beyond the boundaries of religion and organised belief"

For those interested in this journey of personal growth, I thought I'd create a space where more could play.

For a head's up as to how to play...

On Thursday Night April 9th, we'll begin with.....
Week one - Chesed

Love is the single most powerful and necessary component in life. Love is the origin and foundation of all human interactions. It is both giving and receiving. It allows us to reach above and beyond ourselves. To experience another person and to allow that person to experience us. It is the tool by which we learn to experience the highest reality - G-d. In a single word: love is transcendence.

Day One: Chesed of chesed

Examine the love aspect of love. The expression of love and its level of intensity. Everyone has the capacity to love in their hearts. The question is if and how we actualize and express it.

Ask yourself:

What is my capacity to love another person? Do I have problems with giving? Am I stingy or selfish? Is it difficult for me to let someone else into my life? Do I have room for someone else? Do I allow room for someone else? Am I afraid of my vulnerability, of opening up and getting hurt? How do I express love? Am I able to communicate my true feelings? Do I withhold expressing love out of fear of reaction? Or on the contrary: I often express too much too early. Do others misunderstand my intentions?

Whom do I love? Do I only love those that I relate to and who relate to me? Do I have the capacity to love a stranger; to lend a helping hand to someone I don't know? Do I express love only when it's comfortable?

Why do I have problems with love and what can I do about it? Does my love include the other six aspects of chesed, without which love will be distorted and unable to be truly realized.
Every day another contemplation, to me it enhances and compliments the daily studies like Keep a True Lent, Kwanza contemplations, and A Course in Miracles. And 49 days later end with...
Day Seven of Week 7
Malchut of Malchut

Examine the sovereignty of your sovereignty. Does it come from deep- rooted inner confidence in myself? Or is it just a put-on to mask my insecurities? Does that cause my sovereignty to be excessive? Am I aware of my uniqueness as a person? Of my personal contribution?

Exercise for the day: Take a moment and concentrate on yourself, on your true inner self, not on your performance and how you project to others; and be at peace with yourself knowing that G-d created a
very special person which is you.

-----

Conclusion

Upon concluding these forty nine days we come to the fiftieth day - Mattan Torah, when we have fully achieved inner renewal by merit of having assessed and developed each of our forty nine attributes.

What is the significance of the fiftieth day Mattan Torah? After we have achieved all we can accomplish through our own initiative, then we receive a gift (mattana in Hebrew) from above that which could not achieve with our limited faculties. We receive the ability to actually reach and touch the divine; not only to be cultivated human beings who have refined each of their personal characteristics, but divine human beings, who are capable of expressing above and beyond their defined hum an emotions, but actually express that which is unexpressable and undefinable in human terms; the most intimate emotions that transcend the forty nine defined attributes.
A Spiritual Guide to the Counting of the Omer
Forty-Nine Steps to Personal Refinement
Courtesy of www.MeaningfulLife.com

So how do you participate?

buy the book or goto Subscribe and subscribe to the daily lessons via email.
 
Sounds like the pathworking exercises in kabbalah-tree of life meditations.
Keep it up.
 
Sundown tonight April 8 begins Passover...

Counting the Omer starts the second day...sundown April 9.

By tradition the prayers start after sundown...after you can see three stars..
 
From Chabad.org

The blessing is said every night and its only change is the day and day of week.

The contemplation you should have received in your email.

We should get two days of contemplations on Fridays so one doesn't have to start computers on the sabbath if one were that observant...

Omer Count for Thursday Night, April 9, 2009

1 Day in the Omer
Next Day »
The Omer is counted every evening after nightfall, from the second night of Passover till the night before Shavuot.


Forgot to count the Omer at night? Count the following day, but without a blessing. On subsequent nights, continue counting with a blessing as usual. The blessing is made only if every day has been counted; if you missed a day, say the day's count without the blessing.
Printable PDF</SPAN>
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BA-RUCH A-TAH ADO-NAI E-LO-HE-NU ME-LECH HA-OLAM ASHER KID-E-SHA-NU BE-MITZ-VO-TAV VETZI-VA-NU AL SEFI-RAT HA-OMER.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the counting of the Omer.
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Begin here if counting during daytime hours, or if you haven't counted every day since the beginning of this year's count:Today is one day of the Omer.
May the Merciful One restore unto us the service of the Bet Hamikdash to its place, speedily in our days; Amen, Selah.
For the Choirmaster; a song with instrumental music; a Psalm. May God be gracious to us and bless us; may He make His countenance shine upon us forever; that Your way be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. The nations will extol You, O God; all the nations will extol You. The nations will rejoice and sing for joy, for You will judge the peoples justly and guide the nations on earth forever. The peoples will extol You, O God; all the peoples will extol You, for the earth will have yielded its produce and God, our God, will bless us. God will bless us; and all, from the farthest corners of the earth, shall fear Him.
We implore you, by the great power of Your right hand, release the captive. Accept the prayer of Your people; strengthen us, purify us, Awesome One. Mighty One, we beseech You, guard as the apple of the eye those who seek Your Oneness. Bless them, cleanse them; bestow upon them forever Your merciful righteousness. Powerful, Holy One, in Your abounding goodness, guide Your congregation. Only and Exalted One, turn to Your people who are mindful of Your holiness. Accept our supplication and hear our cry, You who knows secret thoughts. Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.
Master of the universe, You have commanded us through Moses Your servant to count Sefirat Ha-Omer, in order to purify us from our evil and uncleanness. As You have written in Your Torah, "You shall count for yourselves from the day following the day of rest, from the day on which you bring the Omer as a wave-offering; [the counting] shall be for seven full weeks. Until the day following the seventh week shall you count fifty days," so that the souls of Your people Israel may be cleansed from their defilement. Therefore, may it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our fathers, that in the merit of the Sefirat Ha-Omer which I counted today, the blemish that I have caused in the sefirah Chesed ShebeChesed be rectified and I may be purified and sanctified with supernal holiness. May abundant bounty thereby be bestowed upon all the worlds. May it rectify our nefesh, ruach and neshamah from every baseness and defect, and may it purify and sanctify us with Your supernal holiness. Amen, selah.
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Thanks for the explanation, Wil. I got my days 1, 2, and 3 in email today so I will try to start tonight and be diligent about it. It's nice that the time it is supposed to happen corresponds with my existing meditation/prayer sessions. Though in Seattle we can rarely see any stars. :(
 
Hi Wil,

As I read this thread you have presented the Jewish sense of counting the Omer, but I have a feeling that you are also trying to connect with the Christian aspects, perhaps Easter or other. Is this where you are heading or am I misunderstanding ? Also, is there an interfaith perspective in this approach ?

I am not disagreeing, just trying to understand your perspective.
 
Hi Wil,

As I read this thread you have presented the Jewish sense of counting the Omer, but I have a feeling that you are also trying to connect with the Christian aspects, perhaps Easter or other. Is this where you are heading or am I misunderstanding ? Also, is there an interfaith perspective in this approach ?

I am not disagreeing, just trying to understand your perspective.
Namaste Avi,

Actually not Christian or Jewish, just as a personal growth experience. Beyond the prayers... The daily reading and contemplations I find incredible. And believe they could be valuable for anyone, any religion or no religion, theist and atheist alike.

Yes there is some connection in the way my church does 'keep a true lent' but that is much more decidely a Christian experience than this is a Jewish experience to me. I did start doing it under a concept of to be a good Christian you first have to be a good Jew... but I feel the contemplations are easily universal.

Do you count the omer? Are you going to join us this year? As we go thru the days and the contemplations anyone participating is welcome to post comments, thoughts, understandings and insights.
 
With the mitzvah of counting the forty-nine days known as Sefirat Ha’Omer, the Torah invites us on a journey into the human psyche, into the soul. There are seven basic emotions that make up the spectrum of human experience. At the root of all forms of enslavement, is a distortion of these emotions. Each of the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot is dedicated to examining and refining one of them.

The seven emotional attributes are:

1. Chesed – Lovingkindness;
2. Gevurah - Justice and discipline;
3. Tiferet – Harmony, compassion;
4. Netzach – Endurance;
5. Hod – Humility;
6. Yesod – Bonding;
7. Malchut – Sovereignty, leadership.

The seven weeks, which represent these emotional attributes, further divide into seven days making up the 49 days of the counting. Since a fully functional emotion is multidimensional, it includes within itself a blend of all seven attributes. Thus, the counting of the first week, which begins on the second night of Pesach, as well as consisting of the actual counting (“Today is day one of the Omer..”) So it examines the first attribute and its nature...the second day the nature of the second attribute as expressed in the first...and on...way too cool.
 
Last night's contemplations left me with the realization of how far I've come and how far I have to go.

The beginining of the week always puts the most in it...the rest of the week will provide daily assignments and practice...where the rubber meets the road if I recall correctly.
 
That's partly what I was getting from day one, too, Wil. And I thought it insightful that it was speaking of lovingkindness as both a giving and a receiving. I think for some of us, it is easier to give than to receive, which actually cheats others out of their capacity to practice lovingkindness.

I'm currently reading "The Heart of the Buddha's Teachings" by Thich Nhat Hanh and was struck by the considerable overlap between contemplations arising from Buddhist concepts and the Omer.

I've been very curious lately about various specific ways to explore and expand the human being. I started out in Christian teachings, but I find a lot of assistance in the detailed practices and concepts of Buddhism, and am suspecting I will find the same in this Jewish practice/teachings.
 
Namaste Avi,

Actually not Christian or Jewish, just as a personal growth experience. Beyond the prayers... The daily reading and contemplations I find incredible. And believe they could be valuable for anyone, any religion or no religion, theist and atheist alike.


Hi Wil, that sounds a great starting point to me.

Yes there is some connection in the way my church does 'keep a true lent' but that is much more decidely a Christian experience than this is a Jewish experience to me. I did start doing it under a concept of to be a good Christian you first have to be a good Jew... but I feel the contemplations are easily universal.

This is a very interesting comment. Can you explain what you mean by "to be a good Christian you first have to be a good Jew" ? I think this is a very complex issue. I am not even sure what a "good Jew" means. I think it means different things to different people.



Do you count the omer? Are you going to join us this year? As we go thru the days and the contemplations anyone participating is welcome to post comments, thoughts, understandings and insights

I do not count the omer. But I will be glad to read this thread as it develops and contribute if I have ideas. Thanks.
 
Can you explain what you mean by "to be a good Christian you first have to be a good Jew" ? I think this is a very complex issue. I am not even sure what a "good Jew" means. I think it means different things to different people.

I do not count the omer. But I will be glad to read this thread as it develops and contribute if I have ideas. Thanks.
Namaste Avi,

btw, you are the third Avi in my circle of folks that I can recall names...one an orthodox youngster and juggler, the other a professor of computer security or some such..

Since I didn't right it, but only read it I'll say what it means to me. In means Jesus was a Jew, all of his disciples were Jews...they had a knowledge of the Torah, the law, the stories..and that knowledge is beneficial to a Christian.

As for following along, our assignment for today is to help a stranger, we are studying love this week. I'll be spending Easter with family...I'll be going to church in the a.m. I'll insure I complete my homework somewhere in there...have to find a stranger...
 
Since I didn't right it, but only read it I'll say what it means to me. In means Jesus was a Jew, all of his disciples were Jews...they had a knowledge of the Torah, the law, the stories..and that knowledge is beneficial to a Christian.

Hi Wil, this notion has some tricky aspects to it. I think I can say that historically this has not been a topic which most Jews have been comfortable discussing. The events which followed the fall of the Second Temple and two millenia of problems such as persecution and others have made this discussion difficult. Perhaps interfaith discussion is the venue to openly address some of these issues.

As for following along, our assignment for today is to help a stranger, we are studying love this week. I'll be spending Easter with family...I'll be going to church in the a.m. I'll insure I complete my homework somewhere in there...have to find a stranger

I have read some of the information on R. Jacobson's webpage that you provided in the OP and it looks like he is quite dedicated.

The idea of helping a stranger is at the same time seemingly quite simple while perhaps not easily accomplished. Since on this anonymous forum, we do not really know each other (I guess some get to know each other, but I am new here), I think we can say that discussing and teaching one another about our religions and faith is helping, maybe we have already accomplished some of todays task, what do you think :D ??

btw, you are the third Avi in my circle of folks that I can recall names...one an orthodox youngster and juggler, the other a professor of computer security or some such..

I am neither a juggler or computer security prof. but glad to meet you anyway :)
 
It has been a challenging week to follow the exercises and contemplations.

I can't say I've been succeeding fully. Tis why I continue, to stretch myself.

today's contemplation...(interstingly enough as bb mentioned on another post we are at day 8 or one beyond natural completion...one beyond our first week on Love, we enter our second week... and again interestingly enough Omer is quasi base 7 while the base ten numbering system is used, of most improtance is that this is the first day of the second week (and we only go seven weeks...)

Ask yourself: when I judge and criticize another is it in any way tinged with any of my own contempt
and irritation? Is there any hidden satisfaction in his failure? Or is it only out of love for the
other?

Exercise for the day: Before you criticize someone today think twice if it is out of care and love.
 
It has been a challenging week to follow the exercises and contemplations.

I can't say I've been succeeding fully. Tis why I continue, to stretch myself.

I know what you mean Wil, judging by how this week went we may have to pull this contemplation out a couple of more times before the 50 days are over :D

By the way, I appreciated the balance you showed on the Israel thread. I think you showed a lot of respect while at the same time standing up to intolerance.

I am not sure we completely agree on either stereotypes or the legitamcy of the State of Israel, but I guess that is what interfaith dialogue is for :)
 
Last nite after wondering what and how I'd work on the lesson..
Exercise for the day: Demonstrate to your child or student how your bonding with each other is an
essential ingredient in discipline and growth.
I printed it out and sat with my 16 year old twins. I let them read the topic, lesson and discuss it. They turned the words around...

ie not only: Bonding is an essential ingredient in discipline and growth.

Discipline is an essential ingredient in growth and bonding.

Growth is an essential ingredient in bonding and discipline.

That our bonding and discipline change with growth.

That our discipline and growth change with bonding.

That our growth and bonding change with discipline.

life is good.
 
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