Your Guide to Personal Freedom
Counting the Omer: Week One
We live in a world that has increasingly embraced the inalienable
right of every person to be free. It would seem that we are
more free than weve ever been, conquering time and space
with the World Wide Web, palm pilots, and digital do-it-all
pens. But for all this prosperity and high tech, are you more
free of your inner demons and scars, of oppressive employers
or pressures? Are you more free in your relationships, free
of jealousy, anger or substance abuse?
The reality is we are all slaves to something to work,
or a relationship, to fear, or food, to a lack of discipline,
or too much discipline, to love, or a lack of love. The word
Mitzrayim (Egypt in Hebrew) means limitations
and boundaries and represents all forms of constraints that
inhibit our true free expression. The Jewish people's redemption
from Egypt teaches us how to achieve inner freedom in our
lives. After leaving Egypt the people had to traverse the
desert for 49 days until they were ready to reach the purpose
of their Exodus - receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. This
49-day process is the key to true freedom. Enslavement is
a habit that needs to be broken and transformed over an extended
period of time a time that is refining and healing.
With the mitzvah of counting the forty-nine days known as
Sefirat HaOmer, 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,
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..) would
consist of the following structure with suggested meditations:
Week one Chesed: Lovingkindness
Day 1 - Chesed of Chesed: LovingKindness in
Love is the single most powerful and necessary component in
life. It is both giving and receiving. Love 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 God. Examine
the love aspect of your love. 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? Am I afraid of my vulnerability, of opening
up and getting hurt?
Exercise for the day: Find a new way to express your love
to a dear one
Day 2 - Gevurah of Chesed: Discipline in Lovingkindness
Healthy love must always include an element of discipline
and discernment; a degree of distance and respect for anothers
boundaries; an assessment of anothers capacity to contain
your love. Love must be tempered and directed properly. Ask
a parent who, in the name of love, has spoiled a child; or
someone who suffocates a spouse with love and doesn't allow
them any personal space.
Exercise for the day: Help someone on their terms not on
yours. Apply yourself to their specific needs even if it takes
Day 3 - Tiferet of Chesed: Compassion, Harmony in Lovingkindness
Harmony in love is one that blends both the chesed and gevurah
aspects of love. Harmonized love includes empathy and compassion.
Love is often given with the expectation of receiving love
in return. Compassionate love is given freely; expects nothing
in return even when the other doesnt deserve
love. Tiferet is giving also to those who have hurt you.
Exercise for the day: Offer a helping hand to a stranger
Day 4 - Netzach of Chesed: Endurance in Lovingkindness
Is my love enduring? Does it withstand challenges and setbacks?
Do I give and withhold love according to my moods or is it
constant regardless of the ups and downs of life?
Exercise for the day: Reassure a loved one of the constancy
of your love
Day 5 - Hod of Chesed: Humility in Lovingkindness
You can often get locked in love and be unable to forgive
your beloved or to bend or compromise your position. Hod introduces
the aspect of humility in love; the ability to rise above
yourself and forgive or give in to the one you love just for
the sake of love even if you're convinced that you're right.
Arrogant love is not love.
Exercise for the day: Swallow your pride and reconcile
with a loved one with whom you have quarreled.
Day 6 - Yesod of Chesed: Bonding in Lovingkindness
For love to be eternal it requires bonding. A sense of
togetherness which actualizes the love in a joint effort.
An intimate connection, kinship and attachment, benefiting
both parties. This bonding bears fruit; the fruit born out
of a healthy union.
Exercise for the day: Start building something constructive
together with a loved one
Day 7 - Malchut of Chesed: Nobility in Lovingkindness
Mature love comes with - and brings - personal dignity.
An intimate feeling of nobility and regality. Knowing your
special place and contribution in this world. Any love that
is debilitating and breaks the human spirit is no love at
all. For love to be complete it must have the dimension of
Exercise for the day: Highlight an aspect of your love
that has bolstered your spirit and enriched your life
Week two will examine the seven aspects of Gevurah, week
three Tiferet and so on for seven weeks. Upon conclusion of
the forty-nine days we arrive at the fiftieth day - Mattan
Torah. After we have achieved all we can accomplish through
our own initiative, traversing and refining every emotional
corner of our psyche, we then receive a gift ('mattan'
in Hebrew) from above. We receive that which we could not
achieve with our own limited faculties. We receive the gift
of true freedom - the ability to transcend our human limitations
and touch the divine.
This is an excerpt from A Spiritual Guide to Counting
the Omer by Rabbi Simon Jacobson. This unique book is
now available at our online