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The Long Road Ahead: Omer 10, Tiferet sh’be’Gevurah

I’ve seen it happen to hikers on the trail: in the Grand Canyon, on Mount Rainier, on Mount Shasta. The length and weight of the trail can simply crush the will out of an otherwise capable hiker. Then, self-judgment finishes them off.

Something pivotal happens on the 10th day of counting the Omer. Yes, a new elevation of the heart and soul takes place each day as we journey toward Sinai to receive Torah, as we count the days one-by-one from Pesakh to Shavuot. Each day we receive a gift, a new elevation of both our physical beings and our spiritual senses.

Yet something happens on the 10th day – the 25th of Nisan – that happens on every journey, in every lifetime. Think of this as a seven-week spiritual backpacking trip, carrying the weight of every positive and negative attribute of ourselves along the way, examining them one-by-one. On the 10th day we realize that excitement of leaving has faded, but the anticipation of arrival is nowhere to be found.

On the 10th day, physically, psychologically, and spiritually, we realize that we’ve just entered the long slog of the middle; the road ahead will drudge on. For some, even the practice of counting the Omer each day is no longer fresh and new.

Between the 10th and the 40th days, the practice is the hardest to maintain. The goal seems so far off.

On the 10th day, when road-weariness might otherwise overwhelm, we arrive at Tiferet she’b’Gevurah, harmony within restraint, the balance inside strength, the compassion that tempers judgment. This is precisely the tool we need to continue the journey.

On the spiritual journey, one danger is being crushed by a landslide of self-judgment. Self-judgment begins the moment the road feels like it’s too long to conquer. Another danger is the quicksand of routine. The routine of our daily lives is strong. The old habits, the old ways of thinking, are entrenched around us and within us. The instinct isn’t to turn back; the instinct is to give up, or to simply surrender.

I’ve seen it happen to hikers on the trail: in the Grand Canyon, on Mount Rainier, on Mount Shasta. The length and weight of the trail can simply crush the will out of an otherwise capable hiker. Then, self-judgment finishes them off.

So on the 10th day of the journey to Sinai, we’re fortified by Tiferet she’b’Gevurah, the ability to temper our self-judgment, our judgment of others and our judgment of the journey itself. We reach for the balance inside our strength, so that we can pace ourselves for the days to come. We take a moment to blend beauty and power. We take a moment to remember that the glory of the journey is why we set out in the first place.

Yes, the long road to Sinai is glorious in beauty. Some of that beauty resides in the power of the commitment to press on. We release judgement of self and others to get back to the task at hand: traveling the road of awe and wonder and, one day, no matter how long it takes, meeting at God’s Holy Mountain.

There is beauty in the discipline needed to make the journey. Tears of sorrow and fear become moments of rejoicing.

Cry No More
Cry no more for the sins of the past.
Rejoice in your repentance and your return.
For this is the day that G-d made
To lift you up from your sorrow and shame,
To deliver you to the gates of righteousness.

Remember this:
Love is the crown of your life
And wisdom the rock on which you stand.
Charity is your staff
And justice your shield.
Your deeds declare your kindness
And your works declare your devotion.

Cry no more for your fears and your dread.
Rejoice in your blessings and your healing.
For this is the day that G-d made
To raise your countenance and hope,
To deliver you to the gates of holiness.

"Cry No More" is © 2017 CCAR Press from This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Day.

Found in: Counting the Omer

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