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 3 תפארת שבחסד Tiferet SheBeChesed

Beauty, Splendor, Balance, Harmony within Chesed

Here we are, at the beginning of 7 weeks of recreating ourselves sefirah by sefirah, preparing to once again receive the great gift of Torah. In the week of rebuilding our inner world of Chesed, we now come into day 3, adding an infusion of Tiferet.

Reb Aryeh Kaplan (z"l), in his book Inner Space describes how each of the lower 7 sefirot relates to a day of Creation. Tiferet corresponds, not surprisingly, to Day 3. How does this work? Day 1 brought us light, pure and unadorned. Chesed. Day 2 brought us the Rakia, the barriers and the restraint that separated the upper waters from the lower. Gevurah. Day 3 brings us the gathering of the lower waters and, with it, the appearance of dry land. It also brings us plant life. 

In these aspects of creation, we see balance and harmony. Sea and dry land. There is a remarkable interplay between the waters and the dry land. We are told that the miraculous gathering of the waters is what allows for the emergence of the land. Yet it is also plain that dry land creates a boundary for the water, which would flow unabated without a container. Plants, whose primary business is growth (Chesed), must still grow within the boundaries of their shape at any given stage of life (Gevurah). They are distinct from the other forms around it. "A Plant is like a controlled, aesthetic growth." (Inner Space)

I'm going to return to this image of the growing plant again and again over the coming weeks. Right now, I'm going to bring us to one of my favorite images from the weekday Amidah: the sprout. At two different points in this journey of blessings, we see some form of the Hebrew root צ-מ-ח (sprout). In studying with a friend once, this just popped out at us and filled us with a delight which, at least for me, has not yet worn off several years later. In the Amidah, the sprout refers to Salvation, but nothing says plants like "sprout," right?

There is so very much that has to happen in order for a plant to even reach the nascent stages of sprout! A plant starts as a seed underground. Here we are at the beginning of this year's Omer journey, full of potential, full of anticipated growth. We are in seed stage. During this first week, the week of Chesed, we begin to receive the sunlight that energizes the beginnings of our growth. Now, the waters have been separated out so that it can rain and so that we can absorb ground water. So cozy underground, we are aware that there is much to come in our 7-week journey. One seed can become a tree full of apples. One seed can become a field full of flowers. We are truly Tiferet within Chesed at this moment. Stay cozy and soak it all in!

May you be blessed this day with hope and full awareness of your potential. May you enjoy the light that welcomes you into this first stage of a balanced and balancing period of growth.

Omer Day 4 נצח שבחסד Netzach SheBeChesed

Omer Day 2 גבורה שבחסד Gevurah SheBeChesed