As Sunday arrives, we complete our 49 days of observing all of the awesome seferotic interactions and we accept the perfectly imperfect combination of all that has appeared. C
I have always had trouble separating Netzach and Hod. I’m pretty sure it’s a common Kabbalistic problem. Presenting opposite each other at the bottom of the tree makes them too co-creatively interdependent to hold one without the other. However, this week and next help because when we take first netzach and then hod and experience them with each of the other sefirot, their individual characters become a little clearer.
Netzach is eternity in Each Moment Connection to All that Was, All that Is, All that Will Be, a transformation today that affects generations to come. Hod is being in the Presence in time and space, open to the glory of the moment.
Today, day twenty-seven is Yesod in Netzach- the longing to connect through past present and future, symbolized personally with another trip to the cemetery and a new self-portrait embroidery in process.
Tiferet is a challenging sefirot because of our tendency to elevate its importance making it seem central to our successful integration of the divine. The trick is to deflate its central idea of total acceptance and the goodness to be very simply inline with all of the other sefirot– one might call it the zen approach to Kabbalah!
Today, Thursday, being day 18, we have the task of finding the Eternity/Vision/Endurance of Netzach in the Radiance/Balance/Harmony/Truth of Tiferet.
For me, it seems related to my search for my maternal great-grandfather. Trying to find his grave (I will have to return to the cemetery again), I came upon other members of his family, his brother who died in a car accident:
And my great-grandparents-his wife’s parents, Noah and Libbie Golanty, one of whom I was named after:
Yesterday, on the 10th day of the journey to Sinai, we explored tiferet v gevurah, the ability to temper our judgment of self, or others, or the journey itself allowing for the blended balance of beauty and power to pace ourselves throughout. Tiferet is the blueprint for change with balance, both internally and with others applied to our gevurah strength.
Today, on the 11th day of the journey to Sinai, we explored netzach v gevurah, determined to stay focused and overcome obstacles, knowing that success is determined in each and every moment, as it is experienced through our chesed/gevorah balanced perspective.
- wine or juice
- incense or sage
- something sweet
Start in the main living area, light the candles, and remember the very first time you saw this room. Have a bite to eat and something to drink as you reminisce some important times or events that happened in this room. Light the incense and circle the room. Gassho (hands pressed together in front of the chest) to the room and wish it the freedom to serve future dwellers.
Carry the lite candles, food and drink to the next room and repeat this process. Continue in this manner for every room. Take your time. Take in the memories and the feelings. As you leave each room, turn to thank it for all that it gave you.
When you have been through the whole house, leave by the front door with a final gassho of thanks and respect.
Today, being day 2 of the counting of the omer, the emphasis is gevorah, strength, within chesed, lovingkindness. Yesterday, the first day, was pretty easy, chesed in chesed, transcendence through our capacity and practice to give and receive love, allows me to wash myself in overflowing loving kindness: I’ll do what I want, as I want, as much as I want, allowing for as much love as possible to myself and others.
As the week progresses, we are obliged to add in the other divine aspects making it a little more complicated. Gevorah, infusing the kindness with strength, reminds me of the phrase tough love. For gevorah in chesed, love establishes boundaries that protect, show responsibility, and safeguard well-being. It is compassion without the enabling. It is limiting the lovingkindness to limit overwhelming and enable something constructive.
P.S. It is now one day later. Today we count Tiferet in Chesed. Tiferest is harmony, balance, acceptance and on this day, applied to chesed, allowing our love to be just as it is in this very moment.
From Leviticus 23:1516: And you shall count for yourselves from the morrow of the Shabbat, from the day that you bring the Omer (offering) that is raised, seven complete weeks there shall be until the morrow of the seventh week you shall count fifty days. The Omer is counted from the second night of Passover through the night before Shavuot. Keep the count along with me this year!!!
Week One: Chesed: Transcendence through Love, our capacity and practice to give and receive love
- Day One: Chesed of Chesed
- Day Two: Gevurah of Chesed
- Day Three: Tiferet of Chesed
- Day Four: Netzach of Chesed
- Day Five: Hod of Chesed
- Day Six: Yesod of Chesed
- Day Seven: Malchut of Chesed
Week two: Gevurah: Strength/Judgment/Discernment, discipline with a measure of respect and awe
- Day 8: Day One of Week 2: Chesed of Gevurah
- Day 9: Day Two of Week 2: Gevurah of Gevurah
- Day 10: Day Three of Week 2: Tiferet of Gevurah
- Day 11: Day Four of Week 2: Netzach of Gevurah
- Day 12: Day Five of Week 2: Hod of Gevurah
- Day 13: Day Six of Week 2: Yesod of Gevurah
- Day 14: Day Seven of Week 2: Malchut of Gevurah
Week three: Tiferet: Radiance/Balance/Harmony/Truth, notice the subtle and vibrant palates in nature, your waves of emotions, the beauty and brokenness all together in truth
- Day 15: Day One of Week 3: Chesed of Tiferet
- Day 16: Day Two of Week 3: Gevurah of Tiferet
- Day 17: Day Three of Week 3: Tiferet of Tiferet
- Day 18: Day Four of Week 3: Netzach of Tiferet
- Day 19: Day Five of Week 3: Hod of Tiferet
- Day 20: Day Six of Week 3: Yesod of Tiferet
- Day 21: Day Seven of Week 3: Malchut of Tiferet
Week four: Netzach: Eternity/Vision/Endurance, Eternity in Each Moment Connection to All that Was, All that Is, All that Will Be, a transformation today that affects generations to come
- Day 22: Day One of Week 4: Chesed of Netzach
- Day 23: Day Two of Week 4: Gevurah of Netzach
- Day 24: Day Three of Week 4: Tiferet of Netzach
- Day 25: Day Four of Week 4: Netzach of Netzach
- Day 26: Day Five of Week 4: Hod of Netzach
- Day 27: Day Six of Week 4: Yesod of Netzach
- Day 28: Day Seven of Week 4: Malchut of Netzach
Week five: Hod: Presence/Gratitude/Humility, Being in the Presence and open to the glory of the moment
- Day 29: Day One of Week 5: Chesed of Hod
- Day 30: Day Two of Week 5: Gevurah of Hod
- Day 31: Day Three of Week 5: Tiferet of Hod
- Day 32: Day Four of Week 5: Netzach of Hod
- Day 33: Day Five of Week 5: Hod of Hod, Lag Ba Omer
- Day 34: Day Six of Week 5: Yesod of Hod
- Day 35: Day Seven of Week 5: Malchut of Hod
Week six: Yesod: Foundation/Connection, The rock that supports, sustains and brings forth our lives rising from deep within the Mystery
- Day 36: Day One of Week 6: Chesed of Yesod
- Day 37: Day Two of Week 6: Gevurah of Yesod
- Day 38: Day Three of Week 6: Tiferet of Yesod
- Day 39: Day Four of Week 6: Netzach of Yesod
- Day 40: Day Five of Week 6: Hod of Yesod
- Day 41: Day Six of Week 6: Yesod of Yesod
- Day 42: Day Seven of Week 6: Malchut of Yesod
Week seven: Malchut/Shechina: Majesty/Divine Presence, The Flow Of The Most High The Indwelling Of Divine Presence as a state of being and a sense of belonging
- Day 43: Day One of Week 7: Chesed of Malchut
- Day 44: Day Two of Week 7: Gevurah of Malchut
- Day 45: Day Three of Week 7: Tiferet of Malchut
- Day 46: Day Four of Week 7: Netzach of Malchut
- Day 47: Day Five of Week 7: Hod of Malchut
- Day 48: Day Six of Week 7: Yesod of Malchut
- Day 49: Day Seven of Week 7: Malchut of Malchut
Only partially vaccinated and still quite scattered, we will once again, hold our Seder via zoom. It was interesting to review last year’s Haggadah for needed changes. Last Passover, we were in quarantine and it was hard to grocery shop so here is the alternative list that allowed lots of options and little requirement, in the attempt to reach underneath the reason each item is included on the plate:
- beitzah(egg)- represents new life and springtime- traditionally a roasted egg, but consider any form of egg, or any kind of seed or nut, an avocado or avocado pit, or even a flower
- karpas(fresh vegetable dipped in salt water)– also spring, renewal, along with the tears of slavery- traditionally parsley- consider anything leafy or celery or avocado, or even a onion
- maror(bitter herbs)-the bitterness of our lives- traditionally horseradish – consider anything spicy.
- charoset(brick mortar)- the hardship of slavery- traditionally a mix of nuts, apples, and wine- try a mix of some kind of fruit and nuts like peanut butter and jelly or granola
- lamb shank, beets- bloodshed required to induce freedom- consider any slice of meat or beets or a yam, anything colorful
- orange(equality)- for all genders and races- this is for something you don’t normally see on a seder plate- so use your imagination.
- olives (peace)- What represents peace to you?
- carrots(sustainability)- a simple, practical, nutritious food
- potatoes(sustenance)- another basic practical, nutritious food
- fish(merit)- something a little extravagant
- chocolate(fair trade)- something that represents the rights of workers
Referencing the plagues set upon the Egyptians, we inserted this list letting us acknowledge the vulnerable members of our society still being passed over through:
- a justice system that instills fear and divides communities. Just as the first plague of blood recalls violence and turmoil, we must take action to reform our criminal justice system to overcomes its brokenness.
- a basic lack of shelter and affordable housing. Just as the plague of frogs transformed the Egyptians’ homes into unlivable conditions, affordable housing can transform lives at the most basic level.
- a dysfunctional health care system where millions of Americans still do not have insurance. The plague of lice reminds us that affordable, quality healthcare is important to have when we are healthy and especially when unforeseen circumstances arise. We must advocate to ensure that all Americans can receive the treatments that they need.
- the plague of gun violence in America that kills 32,000 Americans each year. Gun violence runs rampant in our communities, as did the wild animals in the fourth plague. We are commanded to take necessary measures to ensure the sanctity of human life and safety of our communities.
- hungry kids that exist in every community. Our tradition is explicit in commanding that we feed the hungry, and we must work to make that a reality. The plague of cattle disease reminds us how important it is to ensure that all people have the resources and support needed to live healthily.
- COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is wreaking havoc across the globe, and those most vulnerable are being hardest hit. With thousands falling ill, vast sectors of our economy are shut down, and many workers continuing to labor under dangerous circumstances. This crisis has major implications for economic justice, underscoring the need for universal health care, workers’ rights and more. Just as COVID-19 plagues our society in this moment, so did boils plague the Egyptians when this sudden health crisis impaired their lives and livelihood. This year, we add an empty chair at our table to honor the lives of those lost during this last year and a one-minute silence of respect and acknowledgement.
- the effects of climate change that most significantly impacts low-income communities and people of color. The climate disruption of the plague of hail is a reminder that the onus is on each of us to take action to prevent climate disruption in communities where such events would have a devastating impact.
- valuing workers’ essential dignity. Just as the locusts disrupted work and resources for the Egyptians, so does the lack of paid sick days disrupt the lives of families and workplaces across the United States. Without a national minimum standard, workers face agonizing choices between health and subsistence.
- education as the key to opportunity and prosperity. The plague of darkness reminds us to pursue a bright future for all our children through robust public education.
- There are many structural policy changes that we can make to ameliorate economic inequality. The drama and pain of the plague of the death of the firstborn does not remind of us of any one social justice issue, but it does remind us of the importance of taking action before crises become truly dire. Enacting new legislation, particularly voting rights, underscores the previous nine plagues making sure that we are a country of, by and for the people. On Passover, as we celebrate our redemption from the land of Egypt during this transitional time of the pandemic, we commit to structural change as our opportunity to leave Mitzrayim more united, less isolated and more committed to hope and awakening for all.
And just in case you never added the Cup of Miriam to your seder, here is the info:
The Fourth Cup: Kos Arba: A cup of wine for Eliyahu ha-Navi, Prophet Elijah and a cup of water for the Prophet Miriam, Miryam, kos mayim Chayim: Blessed is the mystery that flows through time and space bringing us clean healthy water.
Traditionally, Elijah the Prophet visits each home on Seder night as a foreshadowing of his future arrival when he announces the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Jewish feminists place a Cup of Miriam filled with water beside the Cup of Elijah.
Midrash teaches us that Miriam, the prophetess, was the keeper of a miraculous well accompaning the Hebrews throughout their journey in the desert. Both Miriam and her well were spiritual oases in the desert, sources of sustenance and healing.
The Cup of Miriam is living waters, the fresh beginning; The Cup of Elijah is wine, awareness that our world is imperfect and still in need of repair. Miriam is present; Elijah is future. Miriam is place; Elijah is time. Miriam is the sea; Elijah is the mountain. The water of Miriam rises from the earth; the fire of Elijah descends from the sky. Together they are the circle of sunlight and rain needed for growth. Together they give us the consciousness to be free. These cups are our determination for a time of true redemption when all people will live:
- free from bigotry and oppression.
- with equality for all races to never again shunned by prejudice and hatred.
- in respect for the aspirations and humanity of women and girls.
- with sustenance for communities living in hunger.
- in peace, particularly in those societies torn by savage war.
- with safe harbor for refugees and survivors of violence.with the promise of dignity and human rights for all.
Sarah and I have come up with a couple of winning products, one of those being our potholder made from the front pocket of a pair of jeans. It is offered here on our ETSY page.
During the pandemic, it has been my responsibility to keep us stocked and fulfill the orders, so when an order came for one of these potholders this past weekend, I had to replenish the stock and make some.
The construction is actually pretty challenging, finding the right pocket and cutting it so as not to sew over hardware or heavy seams. Add onto that, 5 layers of remnant tee-shirts for the lining and a backing, all attached with a 3″ binding, doubled.
It’s actually impossible sewing for any normal machine, even my working horse of an industrial brother. However, through the fluke of friends and the closing of a factory, I happen to have the key to the potholder’s completion: this most industrial special walking foot sewing machine shown here:
Is’t she a beauty? I can tell you, without a doubt, that we could not make these potholders without this machine. Its nature allows for all of the thickness in a way that makes me eternally grateful. Quite something, right???
One year after quarantine began, I have achieved the unimaginable: the immunization protection from this deadly disease. Going out into the public, still masked, with my immunization card in hand, brought out the following dichotomies and then some:
- I feel safer from, yet less trusting of anyone without a mask.
- I feel happy that life is finally starting to get back to normal, but sad that we lost an entire year.
- I am tired of being sedentary but find it hard to muster the energy to re-activate.
- Be disgusted by the continued divide of politics vs. rights.
- Measuring my faith vs. my feelings of doubt.
- My conflicted feelings of action and inaction.
- Accepting the mystery of all vs. the needs to problem solve and provide answers in the moment.
I read an article in the Times about disenfranchised grief, the kind we feel everyday: that if we did not die or lose a loved one, we have no legitimate complaints. This is a ridiculous unrealistic notion. Everyone of us has reason to grieve. Each has suffered hardships and losses and all are valid.
Here are some suggestions to help acknowledge and validate the grief: seek support from others with shared experiences; create a ritual to bring forward the deeper meanings of the experience; reaching out to help others that have greater needs and losses; and work to discover and acknowledge the small moments of joy that came through the grief.
Getting ready for Passover this year, I will add an empty chair to our seder table- representing both the unforgivable magnitude of lives lost and unforgettable feelings of individual grief.