Day 37, May 22: The Gevurah in Yesod

It seems that new books on the spiritual meanings of counting the Omer are coming out these days at a pretty healthy clip. My own library currently contains no fewer than eight of them! Each author takes a different approach, understanding the combinations in differing ways. I’m finding it interesting to compare the different approaches.

Rabbi Yael Levy’s little book, Journey Through The Wilderness: A Mindfulness Approach to the Ancient Jewish Practice of Counting The Omer, does a great job of concretizing the sometimes esoteric and subtle shades of the various combinations of Sefirot. How so?

In keeping with the approach of Judaism as a mindfulness practice (Rabbi Levy was a member of my IJS rabbinic cohort), she provides a specific, contemplative practice to help the reader/practitioner explore her reading of each day’s significance. Furthermore (and this is very clever, indeed) Rabbi Levy often chooses the chapter from the Book Of Psalms that corresponds to the particular day of the Omer (with thanks to Stewart Moser for pointing this out today at the Weekday Meditation Service at Congregation Beth Israel).

For example, for this 37th day of the Omer, The Gevurah in Yesod (which she understands as Strength within Connection) she opens the instruction with Psalm 37 (verse 3):

בְּטַ֣ח בַּֽ֭יהוָה וַֽעֲשֵׂה־ט֑וֹב שְׁכָן־אֶ֗֝רֶץ וּרְעֵ֥ה אֱמוּנָֽה

which she understands as

Trust in the unfolding and act well.
Dwell in the land and be nourished by faith.

What’s particularly interesting here is Rabbi Levy’s translating Y-H-V-H (the important name for God that we traditionally read as “Adonai,” meaning Lord) as “the unfolding.” I would surmise that Rabbi Levy is taking a non-dualistic, kabbalistic/Hasidic approach to divinity. As one Hasidic master wrote to a disciple, “Alles iz Gott,” “Everything is God.” This reading is also supported by the idea that Y-H-V-H comes from the Hebrew root H-Y-H, which means “to be.” Or, as God says to Moses at the burning bush in response to the latter’s request to know God’s name, “I Am What I Am” (and later in the story, God self identifies simply as I Am)! In this reading, God might really be understood to be The Unfolding [Of What Is].

Rabbi Levy then suggests a contemplative practice to explore this understanding. We are to sit quietly for 5 - 10 minutes and silently repeat the phrase, “I trust the unfolding and I will meet it well,” a beautiful play on the verse from Psalm 37.

What does it mean for you (if anything) to “trust the unfolding and meet it well”?

Eager for your thoughts,

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