Eternity within Restraint — day 11

"Today is eleven days, which is one week and four days of the Omer" [Hebrew]

“Today is eleven days, which is one week and four days of the Omer” [in Hebrew on top]

This is a picture of my Omer counter. It is about 4 x 2 inches. I turn the rollers each night after I say the blessing, to reveal the Hebrew formula announcing the new day. That is the basic practice. Merely to count.

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” (

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.


8 thoughts on “Eternity within Restraint — day 11

  1. dear pam thank you for your beautiful thoughts they help me move through the counting.

    as for blood pressure practice: i first mediate for 20 minutes before taking bl. pr. it’s usually high then i meditate for 10 more minutes silently breathing “ahavah rabah’ sensing myself held body and spirit in the Great Love being breathed.

    and yes, when my mss on grief is finally a book, i shall send a copy for your shelf. thanks

    shalom judith

    Judith Schmidt PhD center for intentional living

  2. Lovely counter. I first learned of counting the Omer with the anonymous blogger Iyov, whom I remember with gratitude. Thanks for the ‘in everything’. I am in the middle of a bridge tournament.

  3. I’ve been using a Hebrew version of the following prayer when taking special medication every day. It could be adapted for BP ritual.
    “May it be Your will, Hashem my G-d, that this procedure have a healing effect, for You are the free healer.” Afterwards he should say, “Blessed are You, Who heals the sick.”

    This is the halakhic Hebrew,

    Just found a nice new one from Ritual Well,

  4. Dear Pam,
    Regarding the blood pressure blessing, why not turn to the tradition: Asher yatzar…? I say it (along with Shema, Elohai and blessing for Torah) at the end of my morning meditation, and it always gives me a chance to focus fully on my body, to thank it for working (on good days, or after exercise), or to encourage it when I’m not feeling 100%.

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