Counting the Omer: Day 7
The 49-day Counting of the Omer is a 49-step process designed to inspire us, refine us, and help prepare us spiritually for receiving the Torah on Shavuot.
The Kabbalah teaches that each of these 7 weeks symbolize one of G-d’s seven emotional attributes. Each week we have the opportunity to contemplate and cultivate more of that particular attribute in our own life. Each day of the week represents one of the 7 attributes as well. Combined, this gives us 49 ways of fine-tuning our values, and 49 opportunities to fine-tune who we are and who we want to be in the world.
The 7 emotional attributes or virtues are:
1. Chesed – Loving-kindness
2. Gevurah – Justice and discipline
3. Tiferet – Harmony, compassion
4. Netzach – Endurance
5. Hod – Humility
6. Yesod – Bonding
7. Malchut – Sovereignty, leadership
Day 7 is the last day (malchut) of the first week (chesed) of the Omer. We are asked to consider the importance of malchut (leadership, sovereignty, self-suffiency and boundaries) as we cultivate chesed (loving-kindness) in our lives.
To begin, ask yourself: What would a world of chesed be – without malchut?
With “too little” malchut, a person might end up sacrificing some of their own important needs. I think we’ve all experienced this at times. One example might sound like this: “I’ve been so busy caring for other people’s needs that I don’t have time for myself or my family,” or, “I don’t have time to create a loving relationship in my life.”
Over time, this lack of self-leadership and boundaries leaves us feeling like we’ve “lost ourselves” (for a noble reason). It can create resentment toward the people you have helped, and it can also create the unhealthy expectation that the people you have sacrificed yourself for should sacrifice themselves for you.
With “too much” malchut, a person might close her or himself off to experiencing chesed. I think we’ve all done this too. It sounds like this: “No, I don’t need any help; I can take care of this myself” when they are sick or in need of help. Or, “I have too many responsibilities, I don’t have time to think about loving-kindness.”
Over time, too much self-sufficiency feels lonely and empty. It also makes it more difficult to cultivate chesed towards others because you are unable to receive it.
An exercise for today: As you cultivate the virtue of chesed, wonder how much malchut is too much, too little, or exactly necessary to create the balance you want and need in your life.