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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Shabbat Hagadol - Hol haMoed Pesach

Shabbat Hagadol - Hol haMoed 19th April 2008 – 14th Nisan 5768

As Shabbat hol hamoed has it own Torah reading from Exodus, I thought rather than go over a portion we read not that long ago, we could do an exercise of soul searching that should take place at this time. During the time of the Counting of the Omer, I will publish weekly points on which to meditate and act.

A practical guide to the Counting of the Omer
The 49 days of ‘Sfirat haOmer’

The mitzvah of the 49 days of counting of the Omer is a journey into our souls. It is a real ‘soul search’ in preparation for the blessing of Shavuot. There are seven basic emotions that make up the spectrum of our human life experience. At the root of our emotional problems is a distortion or enslavement of these seven emotions. We will use this time, between Pesach and Shavuot to examine and refine these attributes.

The seven emotional attributes are:
1: ‘Chesed’ – Grace and Loving kindness
2: ‘Gevurah’ – Discipline and Justice
3: ‘Tiferet’ – Compassion or Harmony
4: ‘Netzach’ – Endurance or Eternity
5: ‘Hod’ – Humility in giving glory or Honor
6: ‘Yesod’ – Foundational as in bonding
7: ‘Malchut’ – with regard to the Kingdom

The seven weeks that represent these emotional attributes are further divided into seven days making up the 49 days of the ‘sfira’ – counting. Since emotions are multidimensional they include within themselves a blend of all seven of the attributes. The counting begins on the second night of Pesach.

Upon the conclusion of the 49 days we, on the 50th day have the giving of the Torah - ‘Mattan Torah’. After spending honing and reflecting on our inner most emotions we receive the gift of Torah, that which we could never achieve by our own efforts. We receive the gift of true freedom as remembered in the Pesach Haggadah and by the work of our Messiah.

WEEK 1: “CHESED” – Grace and Loving-kindness

Day 1: “Chesed of Chesed” - The grace of grace and loving-kindness.
Love is probably the single most powerful and necessary component in life. Yeshua taught us the most basic of Torah / Life principles when he said: “and you shall love YHVH your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind, and with all your strength, this, the first commandment. The second is like this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these”. (Mk.12:30-31)

Love is both giving and receiving. One cannot experience love when it is either just given or received. Love allows us to reach above and beyond ourselves, to experience another person and to allow that person to experience us. Love is the tool that allows us to experience the highest reality, a relationship with our heavenly Father. Examinethe love aspect of love.

Ask yourself: What is my capacity to love another person? Do I have problems with giving our sharing love with others? Am I selfish? Is it difficult for me to let someone else into my life? Am I afraid of my vulnerability, of opening up and getting hurt?

Exercise for the day: Find a new way to express your love to someone that id close to you.

Day 2: “Gevurah of Chesed” – The Discipline of Grace and Loving-kindness
Healthy love must always include an element of discipline and discernment that has a degree of distance and respect for another’s boundaries; an assessment of another’s capacity to contain your love. Love must be tempered and directed properly. We don’t want to spoil a child in the name of love or smother a spouse and deny them their own personal space.

Exercise for the day: Help someone on their own terms, not on yours. Apply yourself to their specific needs even it requires an effort!

Day 3: “Tiferet of Chesed” – Compassion and Harmony with Grace and Loving-kindness
Harmony and compassion in they way we love others blends both the aspects of ‘chesed’ and ‘gevurah’. Harmonized love includes empathy and compassion. Love is often given in expectation of something in return. Compassionate love is given freely; expects nothing in return – even when the given love is not received or even deserved.

‘Tiferet’ is the perfect illustration of Yeshua’s teaching of loving one enemies and turning the other cheek.

Exercise for the day: Offer help to a perfect stranger in need.

Day 4: “Netzach of Chesed” – The eternal endurance of Grace and Loving-kindness
Is my love eternal? Does it withstand challenges and setbacks? Do I give or withhold love according to my mood or is it constant regardless of the ups and downs of everyday life?

“Remember those leading you, who have spoken Torah, whose faith follow, considering the end of their conduct: Yeshua is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Heb.13:7-8)

Exercise for the day: Reassure a loved one – don’t for get to say, “I love you”.

Day 5: “Hod of Chesed” – Humility and Honor in Loving-kindness
Often when we love we find we are unable to forgive those we love or to bend or compromise on an issue. ‘Hod’ introduces the aspect of humility and honor in love. It equips us with the ability to rise above ourselves and forgive or give in to the one you love just for the sake of the simplicity of love even if you atre convinced that you are right! Arrogance is not love.

Exercise for the day: Today is the day to swallow your pride and reconcile with a loved one with whom you have quarreled.

Day 6: “Yesod of Chesed” – Foundational bonding in Loving-kindness
For love to be eternal, it requires bonding. A sense of togetherness which actualizes the love in a joint effort. An intimate connection, kinship and attachment that benefits both parties. The bonding causes fruit to be borne and healthy fruit is born out of a healthy union. So too we need to apply this to not only our earthly relationships both also to our heavenly relationships as well.

Exercise for the day: Start building something constructive together with a loved one and start something new with the Father.

Day 7: “Malchut of Chesed” – The Kingdom or Nobility of Loving-kindness
Mature love comes with and brings personal dignity, a special intimate feeling of nobility and regality. Knowing and recognizing your special place and contribution in this world. Any love that is debilitating and breaks the human spirit is no sign of love at all. For love to be complete it must have dimension of a sovereignty that is likened to what Yeshua said: “No greater love than this that a man lay down his life for a friend.” (John 15:13)

Exercise for the day: Highlight an aspect of your love that has bolstered your spirit and enriched your life …. And give thanks and praise the One to whom it is due!!!

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