After the miraculous Exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people spent 49 days preparing for the most awesome experience in human history – the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Just as the Jewish peoples’ redemption from Egypt teaches us how to achieve inner freedom in our lives; so too, this 49 day period, called ‘Sefirat Ha-Omer’ the Counting of the Omer, is a time of intense character refinement and elevation.
During this time, the aspect of the human psyche that most requires refinement is the area of the emotions. The spectrum of human experience consists of seven emotional attributes, or sefirot. This week we continue Sefirat Ha’Omer, utilizing the seven dimensions of the seven emotional attributes. The first week after Pesach was dedicated to examining the aspect of chesed, loving-kindness. The second week corresponds to the emotional attribute of gevurah, discipline or justice.
Week Two – Gevurah: Justice, Discipline, Restraint, Awe
If love (Chesed) is the bedrock of human expression, discipline (Gevurah) is the channel through which we express love. It gives our life and love direction and focus. Gevurah – discipline and measure – concentrates and directs our efforts, our love in the proper directions.
Day 8 – Chesed of Gevurah: Lovingkindness in Discipline
The underlying intention and motive in discipline is love. Why do we measure our behavior, why do we establish standards and expect people to live up to them – only because of love. Chesed of gevurah is the love in discipline; it is the recognition that your personal discipline and the discipline you expect of others is only an expression of love. It is the understanding that we have no right to judge others; we have a right only to love them and that includes wanting them to be their best. 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: Is it out of concern and love?
Day 9 – Gevurah of Gevurah: Discipline in Discipline
Examine the discipline factor of discipline: Is my discipline reasonably restrained or is it excessive? Do I have enough discipline in my life and in my interactions? Am I organized? Is my time used efficiently? Why do I have problems with discipline and what can I do to enhance it? Do I take time each day for personal accounting of my schedule and accomplishments?
Exercise for the day: Make a detailed plan for spending your day and at the end of the day see if you’ve lived up to it.
Day 10 – Tiferet of Gevurah: Compassion in Discipline
Underlying and driving discipline must not only be love, but also compassion. Compassion is unconditional love. It is love just for the sake of love, not considering the others position. Tiferet is a result of total selflessness in the eyes of G-d. You love for no reason; you love because you are a reflection of G-d. Does my discipline have this element of compassion?
Exercise for the day: Be compassionate to someone you have reproached.
Day 11 – Netzach of Gevurah: Endurance in Discipline
Effective discipline must be enduring and tenacious. Is my discipline consistent or only when forced? Do I follow through with discipline? Am I perceived as a weak disciplinarian?
Exercise for the day: Extend the plan you made on day two for a longer period of time listing short-term and long-term goals. Review and update it each day, and see how consistent you are and if you follow through.
Day 12 – Hod of Gevurah: Humility in Discipline
The results of discipline and might without humility are obvious. The greatest catastrophes have occurred as a result of people sitting in arrogant judgement of others. Am I arrogant in the name of justice (what I consider just)? Do I ever think that I sit on a higher pedestal and bestow judgement on my subjects below? What about my children? Students?
Exercise for the day: Before judging anyone, insure that you are doing so selflessly with no personal bias
Day 13 – Yesod of Gevurah: Bonding in Discipline
For discipline to be effective it must be coupled with commitment and bonding. Both in disciplining yourself and others there has to be a sense that the discipline is important for developing a stronger bond. Not that I discipline you, but that we are doing it together for our mutual benefit.
Exercise for the day: Demonstrate to your child or student how discipline is an expression of intensifying your bond and commitment to each other.
Day 14 – Malchut of Gevurah: Nobility of Discipline
Discipline, like love, must enhance personal dignity. Discipline that breaks a person will backfire. Healthy discipline should bolster self-esteem and help elicit the best in a person; cultivating his sovereignty. Does my discipline cripple the human spirit; does it weaken or strengthen me and others?
Exercise for the day: When disciplining your child or student, foster his self-respect
This day by day analysis will give you the ability to take an objective look at your subjective emotions. Seeing their strong and weak points will in turn enable you to apply yourself to the development and perfection of these feelings as you grow towards emotional and spiritual maturity.
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 store.