Friday, May 16, 2008

Counting the Omer

At Torah study, Rabbi S. told us about the Tree of Life, the Sephirot, and the Seven Attributes of God, because we have been Counting the Omer since Passover, counting the seven weeks between Passover and Shavuot. Each of the seven week has an attribute associated with it, and each attribute has a name of God associated with it, as well as a patriarch, matriarch, color, day of Creation, a planet, a Jewish holiday, and a body part. Furthermore, each of the seven days of the seven weeks has one of the attributes associated with it. It's all very complicated and I've heard this lecture several times. I am just now beginning to ask real questions. I have been using the website to mark the days since Passover leading up to Shavuot. Today, for example, we are on the fifth day of the week of Netzach, or the week of endurance. The fifth attribute is Hod, humility, presence. So today is Hod of Netzach, humility within endurance, our ability to endure and to hold back at the same time.

I took notes in Torah study on the Tree of Life/Sephirot map that looks like this:

The top four constitute the domain of divine thought, which none of us can access until we are forty years old, and have been studying Torah and Talmud all of our lives. We have to study divine thought with a learned Kabbalist, and not the kind you would find on the internet or hanging out on the streetcorner, but someone who has also been training for years and who has deep understanding of Torah and Talmud.

The bottom seven are the attributes that correspond with the seven weeks of the Omer, and these we can access, to an extent.

In class I noted which matriarch, patriarch, day of Creation, planet, and name of God were associated with each week of the attributes. I typed them out today so that I won't lose them if I lose my notes. I'm going to post them here. Everything on the left side is associated with form. Everything on the right side is associated with spirit. Everything in the middle is the crucial balance between the two. For the Kabbalists, it is spirit that came first because God created the world with Chesed, pure and boundless divine parent-love, which was then tempered with Gevurah, discipline, the separating of the waters, creating a space, a container for Chesed, balancing it.

Here are my notes, as they correspond with the diagram, with some explanation/speculation about why certain things are associated with certain attributes:

Right: Chesed, first week of the Omer – El, Lovingkindness, Abraham, who chased after strangers to help them, Miryam, who always had wells of water. First day of creation, Jupiter, Passover, Purple (shortest wavelength). Right arm stretching out to help, parental love, first energy God uses for creating the world. Boundless love that requires boundaries…

Left: Gevurah, second week of the Omer – Elohim, discipline, judgment, rigor, Isaac bound on the alter, ethics, decisions, holding back, a container for Chesed. Second day of creation, separating sky from water, creating separate spaces, containers. Leah, the passive wife. Blue, like the separating waters. Shavuot. Mars. Left arm holding back.

Middle: Tiferet, third week of the Omer – YHVH, compassion, balance, harmony. Jacob, who wrestles with God. Hannah. The heart. The sun. Sukkot. Green, for plant life. Third day of creation.

Right: Netzach, fourth week of the Omer – Shaddai, endurance, eternity, victory, Rebecca the intuitive mother, Moses the enduring leader, Right pelvis/leg, everlasting everychanging existence. Fourth day of creation, solar system, Venus, the part of us that endures, creativity. Chanukah’s enduring light. Yellow.

Left: Hod, fifth week of the Omer – Zvaot, presence, humility, glory, order, precision. Aaron, the high priest. Left Pelvis/leg. Sarah, keeper of the ten. Purim. Fifth day of creation, egg laying creatures, orange, Mercury.

Middle: Yesod, sixth week of the Omer – Yah, foundation, bonding. Joseph, first diaspora. Male genitals. Emotions, identity, social roles, connection of Heaven and Earth. Rosh Chodesh, the moon. Female-associated holiday and the moon, male genitals, both associated with cycles, recreation, the world being created over and over, moment by moment. Tamar. Red, blood. Sixth day of creation, first mammals. Red-blooded.

Middle: Malchut, seventh week of the Omer – Adonai, nobility, kingdom, majesty. Rachel, David. Physical needs. Shabbat. Barrenness à abundance. Physical à holiness. Seventh day of creation, Shabbat, the day of complete rest.

I'm not sure if any of this will make sense to anyone else, or if it will make sense to me if I look back on it later.


Sammy Finkelman said...

<< The fifth attribute is Hod, humility, presence. >>

I don't think Hod is humility. It means some kind of awesome presence or honor. But maybe your rabbi said that and you lost some of the transition that he had.

>> I'm not sure if any of this will make sense to anyone else, or

I'll have to print it out. It sounds interesting. I am not sure where these concepts come from.

These characteristics are printed in many Siddurim - but not all - where the days of the Omer are printed (either after weekday Maariv or near the end of the siddur where the Chanukah candle lighting would be.

I only knew about them in the past year or two or three.

Adva Ahava said...

I actually found "humility" on's "Counting the Omer" meditation. I didn't think it "felt" as good as "presence" or any of the other things my rabbi said. When I told him that I'd seen "humility" as an aspect of Hod at aish, he said that maybe it's because you need to be present to be humble...or something like that.

Thanks for the input! I'm glad someone is reading this thing and contributing!