Then there are the various additional spiritual practices, reflections and contemplations that one might add. If you choose to meditate on or practice one of 48 ways to acquire wisdom (Torah) as delineated by Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers 6:6), today’s theme (beginning at sundown tonight and lasting until sundown tomorrow) is “keen discussion.”* If one chooses to contemplate merely one word as offered by the 49-worded Psalm 67, today’s word of the day is b’chol — meaning “in everything” or “in all.”
One can get more intricate and elaborate with the practice (or some think, “complicated” or “unfathomable”) by adding various permutations, either on the mystical Ana B’koach prayer, or in working with various combinations of seven different themes called sefirot (“emanations”), as illustrated in this graph. Today’s theme is Netzach in Gevurah.
Since there are many ways to translate and interpret these kabbalistic themes of each day, I enjoy comparing the various renderings in my collection of Omer books and guides.
Rabbi Jill Hammer understands Netzach in Gevurah as “Endurance within Strength” and equates the Biblical Dinah with this combination of traits (The Omer Calendar of Biblical Women). She says “We can imagine that Dinah found the persevering strength, the netzach shebegevurah, to go past her victimhood and become truly free. We are most like Dinah when we find a voice to speak of our tragedies, and transcend them.”
Rabbi Simon Jacobson translates it as “Endurance in Discipline” (A Spiritual Guide to Counting the Omer: 49 Steps to Personal Refinement) and invites us to consider whether our discipline is consistent.
Rabbi Rami Shapiro understands it as “Your capacity for follow-through” (https://rabbisremembering.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/rs-omer-journal.pdf).
But the translation I will hold closest for this day is that of Rabbi Yaacov Haber (Sefiros: Spiritual Refinement through Counting the Omer). He renders netzach sh’b’ gevurah as “Eternity within Restraint,” writing that “Netzach views the long-term gain within the short-term pain or loss.”
This theme speaks to me today, the proud (?) new owner of an expensive blood-pressure cuff, recommended this morning by my internist (along with a referral to a cardiologist for a stress test and a coronary calcium score) due to newly diagnosed high blood pressure.
I want netzach — eternity and endurance — for as long as I can have it. If it requires short-term restraint/inconvenience to get me there, I’ll take it. You betcha.
So, I have a new daily practice — to check and record my blood pressure. Now, can I turn it into a daily spiritual practice? Is there a mantra or prayer I might say, a kavanah/intention to set, a virtue to perfect? Suggestions welcome.
*Note that the different texts that use Pirke Avot 6:6 as a basis for a daily Omer reflection do not necessarily adhere to the same order (and again, the translation may vary from text to text, as well). However, rest assured that by the end of the Omer period, with reflection on these 48 pathways to wisdom in ANY order, you will feel just a bit wiser, and maybe a whole lot! Likewise with a serious contemplation of the sefirot.