hazzan Diana Brewer was ordained through the aleph ordination program. she leads prayer services regularly at the jewish community of amherst, and is on the staff of the davvenen leadership training institute.

Omer Day 2 גבורה שבחסד Gevurah SheBeChesed

Strength, discipline, restraint, discernment, judgement within Chesed (I'm giving up on translating this exquisite word)

It can be said that one of G8d's greatest acts of Chesed was, in essence, an act of Gevurah - a restraint, contraction, or withholding. Indeed, the creation of the universe as we know it was contingent upon the creation of finitude. The Infinite One had to make something of Itself finite.

While we spent the day gone by surrounded by and filled with Chesed, today gives us an opportunity to look at where we might need to hold back in some way, even as we continue our walk through this week of Chesed.

We can think of our flow of Chesed as part of the continuous renewing of Creation each day. However, the artist has to know when to put down the brush, the writer has to know when to trim words, and the musician needs to know when to stop working and re-working a difficult passage, and just let it steep for a while. All creative endeavors can reach a point of diminishing returns without at least few drops of Gevurah.

Of course, there are many ways this plays out in the context of relationships. To return to my favorite song, as it were, anyone who is a parent (or has ever cared for children in any capacity) knows that a continuous flow of unrestrained, undisciplined giving doesn't tend to yield great results. Sure, it all feels good in the moment - we love to give our kids what they want, and they certainly love getting it.  But you don't have to think too long or hard to imagine the ultimate consequences and effectiveness of that setup.

Of course, adult-child relationships are not the only places where judicious restraint is necessary as we yearn to give freely of our love and goodwill. The consequences of an unchecked flow of Chesed can be equally grave for both parties in different ways. The one on the giving end risks burnout, loss of a sense of self, and resentment. The one on the receiving end can become overwhelmed and feel smothered. Sometimes we long to be helpful, but instead end up hindering a loved one's progress or, worse, enabling their downward spiral. How can someone learn to walk or run if I insist on carrying them?

I am often moved by what a loving act a proper of infusion of Gevurah can be within a relationship.

Are there ways in which you would like to exercise a little bit of judicious self-restraint in your giving and creative efforts? Are there any boundaries in your life that would benefit from a little more clarity?

May you be blessed today with the strength and discernment you need or desire to allow for deep fulfillment in your relationships and all that you give yourself to.


Omer Day 3 תפארת שבחסד Tiferet SheBeChesed

Omer Day 1 חסד שבחסד Chesed SheBeChesed