After the most miraculous Exodus from Egypt the people of Israel spent 49 days preparing for the most awesome experience inhuman history – the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Just as our redemption from Egypt teaches us how to achieve inner freedom in our lives; so too this 49 day counting period of “S’firat haOmer” is a time to refine our characters and spend time reflecting inward.
During this time it is in the area of the emotions that require the most refinement. The spectrum of the human experience consists of seven emotional attributes or ‘sefirot’. This week we continue with our ‘sfira’ using the seven dimensios of the seven emotional attributes. Last week was dedicated to examining the aspect of ‘chesed’ – loving kindness. The second week corresponds to the emotional attribute of ‘gevurah’ – discipline and or justice.
Day 8: “Chesed of Gevurah” – Loving-kindness in discipline
The underlying intention and motive in discipline is love. Think how we discipline or should discipline our children! 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 to see the best come out of them.
Ask yourself: When I judge and criticize another, is it in any way tinged with any with my own contempt and irritation? Is there any hidden satisfaction in seeing someone else fail? Or is it only out of love for the other?
Exercise for the day: Before you criticize someone our their actions, is it out of concern or love?
Day 9: “Gevurah of Gevurah” – The Discipline and or Justice in Discipline
Examine the discipline factor of discipline: Is my discipline reasonably restrained or is it excessive? Do I have enough self discipline in my own life that I may exercise discipline on others? Am I organized? Do I use my time efficiently? Why do I have problems with discipline and what can I do to improve my situation? Do I take time every day to take account of my schedule and my accomplishments?
Exercise for the day: Make a detailed plan for spending your day and at the end of the day see if you have managed to live up to it.
Day 10: “Tiferet of Gevurah” Compassion in discipline
Underlying and driving discipline must not only have love but also compassion. It is the compassion that makes the love unconditional. It is love for the sake of love, not considering the other persons position. Is this not the lesson that Messiah gives us, that we are to love that unconditionally that we should be prepared to lay down our lives for our brother? ‘Tiferet’ is the result of total selflessness in the eyes of YHVH. You love for no apparent reason or motivation; you love because you are a reflection of YHVH in the image or likeness of the Messiah Yeshua. Does my discipline have this element of compassion?
Exercise for the day: Be compassionate to someone you have reproached.
Day 11: “Netzach of Gevurah” – The Endurance or Eternity of Discipline
Effective discipline must be effective and tenacious. Is my discipline consistent or does it come into play only when forced. Do I follow through with my discipline? Am I perceived as a weak disciplinarian? Do I give in just for the sake of “keeping the peace”?
Exercise for the day: Extend the plane you made on day two and extend it for a longer period of time. List both short term and long term goals. Review it and update it each day, maybe even twice a day to start with. You will soon see whether you are consistent or not.
Day 12: “Hod of Gevurah” – The Humility in Discipline
The results or discipline without humility are obvious. Some of the world’s greatest catastrophes have been as a result of people sitting in arrogant judgment of others. Am I arrogant in the name of what I see to be just? Do I ever find myself placing myself above others and passing judgment upon them? What about my children, my students or my peers at work?
Exercise for the day: Instead of passing judgment on someone, lift that person up in prayer and pray for a deeper understanding and possibly a change in the situation.
Day 13: “Yesod of Gevurah” – Foundational bonding in Discipline
For discipline to be effective it must be coupled with commitment and foundational bonding. Both when we discipline ourselves (a very important aspect not to be overlooked) 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 one you have to discipline that it 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 damages the self-esteem of another will come to no good. Healthy discipline should bolster self-esteem and help to bring out the best in that person and by that cultivate his uniqueness. Does my discipline harm the inner spirit of people; does it weaken or strengthen me and others?
Exercise for the day: When having to discipline someone make sure to foster self respect.