Counting the Omer

Counting each day from Passover until Shavuot

Day 49
Sovereignty of Sovereignty
By Chaplain Adam Siegel

As the final day of our spiritual counting, we appreciate the the paradoxical wisdom that  our own Sovereignty is further refined when we’re openly able to surrender to the Truth of a Power Greater than Ourselves.

It is through this release that we honorour own majestic capabilities, as well as the majestic Source of all.

Much gratitude to the residents and Spiritual Counselors who kept us counting on the journey from the celebration of our liberation (ie. Passover) to the celebration of our Freedom (Shavuot-tonight!)

Day 48
Bonding in Nobility
By Anthony K.

Today’s omer is about the bonding aspect of my sovereignty. I actually had to look up the word “sovereignty” and found it meant “supreme power or authority.” I think continuing on my struggle with vulnerability is appropriate today because it has a lot to do with how I think about sovereignty and power. 

Last week at one of the groups I asked Harriet something along the lines of “I think I have trouble with vulnerability because it requires blind trust. I’ve been trained throughout my life to only trust those who have earned it but here, I feel like I have to be vulnerable and tell my deepest, darkest secrets and insecurities to strangers. Am I thinking about this correctly?” She responded with “I only trust the people who are willing to tell me what I don’t want to hear. What does vulnerability have to do with trust? There is definitely risk. The risks of people using your vulnerabilities against you, making fun of you, and shaming you.” 

What I got from that is that vulnerability doesn’t necessarily require blind trust. It does require resilience and a surrendering of what I think is power. When I think of doing this, I falsely think of it as handing the power to someone else. That the person or people I am vulnerable with suddenly have power over me with what I am so insecure and ashamed about. But even if I keep it to myself, it’s a “power” that also has a firm grip on me, changing my decisions and behaviors. In my fearful mind, I think of it as a crown but in reality, it’s more of a leash. Is it really power at all? 

But awareness isn’t enough to make it easy. I still want to hide in my fear. It reminds me of before I got here when I couldn’t face my problems. Physically, I would hide in my bed and spiritually, hide behind my addictions. Physically, I can’t even recognize the person I was just 6 months ago but spiritually, we’re just slightly different versions of the same person. I’m not engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms to hide but I’m still feeling those feelings. Now, I’m more aware of those feelings and where they come from and how to deal with them but, again, awareness isn’t enough to make it easy. This is a life-long spiritual disease no matter how good I feel. I’m trying to not be so desperate to say “I’m okay. I feel good.” Because even if that’s true in that moment, that truth can slowly blend into a lie without me even realizing it and that is the scariest part of recovery for me. I am my own worst enemy.  So to prevent that, I need others. To have others, I need bonding. To have bonding, I need to be vulnerable. And to be vulnerable, I need to give up what I think is this “power.” Simple enough to say, but hard as fuck to practice. But it’s worth it. 

Harriet couldn’t have explained that more perfectly when she said, “Perhaps, the benefits are, to me, greater than the risks. The benefits are true connection with someone who also risks being vulnerable and feeling accepted with all your imperfections.”

Day 47
Humility of Majesty
By Annie G.

When I think of majesty, I think of leadership, and when I think of leadership, I know that good leadership needs humility!  And this is challenging, because humility can be malformed (false humility, false pride, etc.)  When I think of these qualities in the context of my own recovery, I ask myself, who is my leader?  I can’t run on self-will, and I need the leadership of my Higher Power.  When my thoughts, speech, and deeds are aligned with G-d’s will, I can live will: with confidence and humility.

Day 45
Compassion in Sovereignty/Divine Presence
By Rabbinic Intern Sofia

As I enter my last week as an intern at Beit T’Shuvah, my heart is filled with love and gratitude for this sacred place and the people who make it. I have learned this year about compassion and resilience, passion and purpose, humility and integrity. I am grateful to you all, residents and employees, for everything that you have taught me and for the uncountable ways you have helped me grow. God is in this place and what a gift it is to know it!

May the Divine Presence continue to dwell amidst us all and may we find peace, comfort and good health.

Day 44
Discipline in Nobility
By Rabbinic Intern Hannah

As we enter this final week of the Omer we have moved into the final part of the structure we are looking at – Malchut. Malchut, which is sovereignty or nobility or leadership, is the Sefira that grounds the whole system of Sefirot.

And now we reach the day of Discipline in Nobility. And there is no nobility without discipline. We are never able to reach our goals and highest aspirations for ourselves without discipline and commitment to process. It’s such a frustrating reality sometimes. We just want the malchut without the work to get there, without all of other Sefirot. We want to be ‘recovered’ without all of the recovery. But that’s not how it works. What works is daily practice, daily commitment to achieving our goals and aspirations. What works is small steps that add up over time. What works is t’shuvah. Daily and weekly t’shuvah. What works is the humility to accept that this is along journey, but that it’s a critical one. And what works is truth. Daily commitment to truth.

On this day of discipline in nobility I hope that we are all able to find a way to look out into the distance at our grandest dreams for our own nobility and leadership and sovereignty and then look back down at our feet and realize it’s going to take a lot of steps to get there. I hope we can take some small disciplined steps today toward our greatest visions for ourselves.

Day 43
Loving-kindness that is in the “Kingdom”
By Bob S.

This week we study the Sefirah of Malkhut which translates as “Kingdom”. Although the usage of king and kingdom may seem archaic or foreign, the concept is useful. A kingdom exists due to its king. The king’s presence, power, authority and benevolence flows outward or downward to establish a kingdom. So kingdom is relational, it exists in context to a king. Malkhut is likewise relational and contextual. Malkhut is positioned at the bottom of the Etz Chaim diagram with all the higher Sefirot flowing into it. So Malkhut is often thought of as a vessel, the receiver, holding the qualities of all the other Sefirot.

​How can I relate to this? I can ask if I am being receptive to G-d’s blessings, power and ultimate authority. Am I in right relation to G-d or am I stilattempting to live by self-will self-reliance and self-sufficiency? The answer and the real acid-test here is humility and gratitude. To practice humility is to recognize the blessings G-d has given me to which I cannot claim any credit. They are His gifts. That is my gratitude list, which includes health, family and friends, loved ones, community, recovery, and Beit T’Shuvah. 

 In As Bill Sees It,
pg.
37 he writes ”Every day in my prayers I ask G-d to help me remember my list and to be grateful for it throughout the day”. What I’m hearing is for me to practice the attitude of gratitude remembering humbly that I am blessed, I have received greatly. Like Malkhut, I’ve only received, I cannot claim merit or any entitlement. I can live in the experience of G-d’s presence in my life, the life of others and that we are all part of G-d’s kingdom.

Day 42
Sovereignty within Foundation/Bonding
By Chaplain Adam Siegel

This week’s focus on foundation/bonding informs us about the source, significance, and power of the “glue” that holds/bonds us together, especially in our relationships with others.  Bonding occurs from our first moments in this world, and then only continues as we grow and develop.  As Rabbi Simon Jacobson writes, “Every person needs bonding to grow.  The bonding between mother and child; between maritial partners; between brothers and sisters; between close friends.  Bonding is affirmation; it gives one the sense of belonging; that “I matter“…”

In general, establishing a sense that  “I matter” cannot occur in a vacuum.  It is the bonding between two people that fosters the sacred transmission of “mattering“, from one person to another.  When we are stuck in our darkness, sometimes the power to remember that “I matter” can only come from a source outside of ourselves.

When another person shares with us a sentiment that “You Matter“, there is a soul connection, leading to a renewed sense that “I matter“.  In (re)establishing our own sense of “mattering“, we humbly recognize that we are not alone, but that its our ability to both give and receive within a relationship that allows us to live into being our best selves.  Ultimately, my sovereignty depends on my willingness to surrender to being part of something larger and more powerful than myself, drawing from this bond to raise myself up and keep moving forward.

Day 41
Bonding in Bonding
By Anthony K.

So far, we’ve talked about humility, endurance, discipline, and compassion and how these things are a necessary part of bonding. I’ve talked about how I’ve lacked these things in parts of my life and how they contribute to my lack of bonding. So since today is about bonding itself, it makes sense that I talk about the reasons why I’ve had difficulty bonding in certain areas of my life. 

Let’s start with family. I grew up as the first born son to two parents that immigrated here from a culture much different than the American one that I was raised in. Complicated by some pretty tough events, my relationship with my parents was not what you would call close. My little sister and I had your classic relationship where we fought a lot but bonded in times where we needed each other because of our parents. When I left to college, I considered it an escape. I didn’t visit or call. I knew it was probably really painful for my mom but I didn’t care for a good while. I was enjoying my freedom and I had built up a lot of resentment throughout my whole childhood. 

Fortunately, I never had a problem making friends who I leaned on throughout this. Unfortunately, I always had a chip on my shoulder. I always felt like I needed to prove myself. In hindsight, I probably valued their validation as much as, if not more than, their friendship. This obviously led to a lot of problems mostly because I felt like I couldn’t show any sign of what I thought was weakness at the time. How can you be vulnerable with people you feel the need to constantly impress? Maintaining an image weighs heavy. I felt like I could I only depend on myself in the times where I really needed someone else. When you throw in some anxiety/depression and a couple of bad habits just to make things extra spicy, you have a recipe for a not very fun time. 

I’m still struggling with this but I’m getting a little better. My relationship with my parents isn’t where I’d like it to be but it’s recently started going in the right direction. I’m able to practice being vulnerable here at Beit T’Shuvah where it’s much easier because everyone here is more open to it than the “real world.” Even here, though, the practice of being vulnerable isn’t always received perfectly but that’s okay because that’s also practice for the real world. When that happens here or outside, I have to remember that that’s not more reason for me to put up my defenses and continue trying miserably to maintain an image. I understand that vulnerability is instinctively difficult for me but it’s necessary to even have the opportunities to have true relationships and bonds.

Day 40
Humility of Foundation

Annie G teaches: Earlier in my life I was driven by self-will, unable to accept anything I considered mediocre or below my standards.  I have come to learn and re-learn that humility is needed for recovery.  I am now back at BTS for a second time – a humbling experience, which is good; now I see that my ego builds futile walls of separation.  “We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength” (12 & 12 p. 21) – the “utter defeat” here is humility, the foundation of recovery.

Cristie S teaches: Coming into recovery I knew I needed to make a commitment to change and build for myself a new foundation.  As I began treatment at BTS, I learned that I first had to surrender, to learn to be humble in the face of my addiction.  That was the beginning of my foundation.  And now, I have to re-commit to the foundation of my recovery as I prepare to transition back home to my family – to remember that I must be humble and keep re-investing in my foundation.

Day 39
Surrender that is the Foundation
By Bill C.

Have you ever heard the popular twelve step expression “the only way to keep what you have is to give it away”? You may have wondered, “What is the “it” that we are required to give away, in order to keep?”

This idea is relevant to Day 39’s quality for character refinement — Yesod . Yesod means foundation. Equally important to what we understand foundation to mean — is the idea that this foundation will first be created, and then quickly transferred, to be GIVEN away. The foundation that we create in Yesod matters most as we pass it on, as we share it with others.

 This is the week for each of us to ask ourselves — What elements make up the foundation of our recovery?

 I have identified three key yesod/foundational elements in recovery:

 1) Honesty — Without being honest with others, and as honest as possible with myself, long term recovery is not possible. Even when it is hard, and even when I get a “no”, or what I want at the time doesn’t appear to be coming to fruition, it has become clear that being truthful is a key foundation of recovery.

2) Connection — I can’t recover alone. I can’t recover in isolation. It is connection and positive relationships to friends, family, brothers and sisters in the fellowship, co-workers, my sponsor, therapists and guides that are essential. And, in order to have real and meaningful relationships, vulnerability appears to be an essential component.

3) Justice — Life is hard and challenging. In my affairs and decisions, I have to pursue doing the next right thing — or as Zach Jones often tells us, “take the next right indicated action”. By doing this, my foundation and self worth remain strong, and I become a person who improves my world, instead of destroys it. 

In order to stay in recovery, my yesod, my foundation, needs to be strong . Honesty, connection and “doing the next right thing” come together this week at the heart of that foundation. Now, I realize that I have to pass that understanding on, to give it away , in order to keep it.

Day 38
Compassion in Bonding
By Rabbinic Intern Sofia Zway

Today I’m thinking about how we can use compassion to build healthy foundations and bonds in our relationships. One of the things I’ve learned in my partnership is that our bond is strengthened by empathy and compassion, the ability to hear one another, to see a different perspective and to be kind to one another even when facing challenges or disagreements. I’ve had to work hard especially in these Covid days to cultivate my compassion and kindness – not only for my partner but also for myself!

Today’s Omer count reminds us that our closest relationships are founded in and strengthened by compassion.

How do you cultivate compassion, for yourself and others, in your relationships?

Day 37
Discipline in Bonding
By Rabbinic Intern Hannah

Another week, another 2nd day of the week, which as the pattern has shown, is about discipline. This week, in Yesod – bonding. It’s interesting because Yesod is often talked about as the foundation or the stability of the Kabbalistic structure that we use to talk about the Omer. And then here we understand it to be bonding. What are the connections of those things? And how do they relate to discipline?

Well, in a lot of ways, bonding is the foundation upon which we build our lives: bonding to our parents, our siblings, our friends, our communities, our values. And that is true even when those bonds are shaky and complicated. They are, regardless, the things upon which we have constructed our realities.

And now, our bonding to other people especially, is being challenged greatly as we are not able to bond in the ways we usually are. This, inevitably, is where we find ourselves at Discipline again. This is where we have an opportunity to think about this strained quality of our bonding (having to stay distant from people, not seeing our friends and family, not hugging people) as an opportunity for discipline. How can we use this time to reassess the bonds that we have created and prepare ourselves to reestablish them more clearly and honestly and openly when we are allowed? How can we use this time to prepare ourselves for the strong foundations we will need to build in our bonds after this?

Day 36
Loving-kindness that’s in the Foundation
By Bob S.

The sefirah of Yesod is representative of foundation. On the Etz Chaim diagram, the tree of life, Yesod lies underneath the other 5 sefirot we have already studied in counting the omer. So, in my interpretation, Yesod represents the accumulation of the other qualities, much as white light is both white as well as all the other colors of the spectrum. Yesod is foundation, the synthesis of G-d’s attributes into one quality or power. Again on the tree of life diagram, Yesod serves to pass this power physical world. So Yesod is the foundation or fundamentals given to Malchut the receiver to be made manifest. 

My primary task and responsibility while here in Beit T’Shuvah has been to create a foundation for life in recovery while here and when I leave. Like Yesod, this foundation must consist of several different aspects simultaneously. This foundation must include maintaining connection to Beit T’Shuvah, ongoing step work, a working relationship with my sponsor, continuing with available therapy, being of service and carrying the message to others.

Applying the quality of Yesod, my foundation in recovery reminds me of step 12. Here I stay in right relation to G-d and others and pass along my experience, strength and hope. The last page in the text of the Big Book summarizes this. “But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right and great events will come to pass to you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.” This Great Fact sounds like a fundamental truth, a foundation in G-d, recovery and community.

Day 35
Sovereignty of Humility
By Kyle P.

First I am sorry that I was not present today, but just because I’m not in the house and In the hospital won’t stop me from doing what I need to do for my recovery. 

Today is Day 35 of counting the Omer and we are taking about Hod which is described as humility. 

Today I get to live spiritually through god. For me it means that I don’t get to play or be god. I am a pawn on a chess board and I can with the right moves take the king or queen but that kind of thinking got me where I am at. 

Though I became religious and dropped it doesn’t mean that my belief and power in god has changed. It was such a shock to understand that I am no better then any man or woman but that is my reality today. 

Yeah I’m human I talk shit and judge but try to limit because the same happens to me. 

With me realizing my place means I don’t live selfishly anymore. Today I get to reach out to people and help and be the bigger man and call myself a leader. My strength has been built up by surrendering to this process and accepting god as my higher power. 

As I sit here in my hospital bed not knowing what will happen I have an army behind me and god on my side. It was such a blow to my ego to realize that I am not god and that I know it all. Through the process of discovering who I am I’ve realized I’m not the old me. I’ve redefined my image and personality to be a person who is of action and living in gratitude and will bend over backwards to help anyone.

As cheesy as some of us think we all matter which includes myself. Sorry guys I gotta cut it short love you all.

Day 34
Bonding in Humility
By Anthony K.

Humility should not be a lonely experience. It ought to result in deep bonding and commitment. There is no stronger bond than one that comes out of humility. 

  • Does my humility separate me from others or bring us closer?
  • Does my humility produce results? Long term results?
  • Does it create an everlasting foundation upon which I and others can rely and build?

Exercise for the day: Use your humility to build something lasting.”

To me, all of these questions are meant to be rhetorical. I already know the answer before I consider answering. The real question these questions are asking is do I understand what humility can bring me and do I understand what the lack of humility cannot? Do I attempt to live my life with humility? If not, am I willing to accept that that is a change I need to make?

I really liked the first line of today’s explanation of the omer. “Humility should not be a lonely experience.” In my adult life, my lack of humility has been intimately linked to continual and repeated loneliness. I think it’s easier to make that connection once I realize the space left by the lack of humility had to be replaced by something. Those somethings were ego, pride, and arrogance. Things that I mistook for confidence, but in reality, are exactly the opposite. That mistake and the resulting loneliness was a huge part of what led me to the place that brought me here today. I know I need humility because I don’t want to go back there. 

Unfortunately, humility, like most things, is not a switch that we can turn on from off. It is an ebb and flow that changes based on our experiences and our self-awareness and our willingness to work it. Maybe most importantly, our brain or soul (or whatever you want to call it) that we use to assess and measure qualities in ourselves like humility can themselves be influenced by the lack of those qualities. Another way of saying this is if you don’t know, you probably don’t know you don’t know. So again, to parrot off of last week, we can’t do it by ourselves. We need others and their perspectives. Not so that we can listen unconditionally without opinion, but so that we can have a more complete and rounded foundation from which we base our decisions. Humility is one of many necessary things that can bring us these bonds that allow us the opportunity to live better. 

Day 33
Humility

Today is Lag B’Omer, a Jewish holiday traditionally celebrated with bonfires, live music, and haircuts 🙂On this holiday, we take a break from the restrictions of the Omer counting season to enjoy and celebrate!

Annie G teaches – In much of my trying to get and stay sober, I’ve had in an inflated sense of importance… but also a concept that I’m less valuable than the next person.  In working on humility in recovery, I’ve learned that peace and connection are more important than being right, and that the best leadership addresses everyone equally rather than labeling people as better or worse than.

Cristie S teaches – In my recovery I’ve had to learn to admit I don’t know everything, and that I can’t stay sober and recover without G-d’s infinite grace and love.  I’ve needed humility to look within myself and discover/uncover that I’ve been holding a “victim” identity/mentality.   And I’ve needed appropriate self-esteem and self-compassion (also aspects of humility!!) to see myself as a “diamond in the rough” and capable of change.

Day 32
Beauty of Humility
By Bill C.

When I first returned to Beit T’shuvah as a resident this past January, 25 years after my first stay, I was devastated and defeated, hopeless and lacking in faith.  Within my first ten days back, two of my spiritual guides, in separate meetings, both looked me in the eye and said “ it appears that even though you were abstinent for many years, it seems that you never truly surrendered….. That might be an important idea to focus on this time through the house….”

The concept of surrender has therefore been at the heart of my learning, a real focus jn spiritual counseling, 12 step work and therapy.

Today is day 32 of the counting of the omer, and this week’s quality for character improvement is Hod.  One of the core meanings of Hod is “surrender” — so this week’s quality means a lot to my recovery today.

So what does it mean to surrender?

Philosopher and Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik explains in this way:

“Redemption is achieved when humble man makes a movement of recoil, and lets himself be confronted and defeated by a Higher and Truer Being.”

I really love this definition.  According to Soleveitchik, in order to surrender, I have to first be humble, and then ALLOW myself — or to make a daily decision to be confronted and defeated — it isn’t forced upon me.  It is actually a strength, rather than a weakness.

And so, I achieve surrender, both according to Jewish tradition, and to AA steps two and three — by working to subdue my self-will, and to work to align my will with God’s.  And how do I know if I am doing this?

The first step of surrender is awareness.  Every morning, before getting out of bed, I ask myself “Are you willing to live in a surrendered state?  Do you allow yourself to be confronted and defeated today?”

And then, I see how the day unfolds.  Are the important events of the day flowing smoothly?  Are doors opening or closing? Are my keys being taken away, or am I acquiring new ones?  Am I forcing my wants too much, and not living in acceptance?  If things are getting stuck or I experience push-back and confrontation, it is possible that I am taking too much of my will back.

In addiction and self-will, it was all devastation and destruction, pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  The concept of HOD/surrender allows me to begin to pick up the pieces, start to take positive strides, and to start building again.

Day 31
Beauty of Humility
By Rabbinic Intern Sofia Zway

One of the things that keeps me humble is gratitude, the spiritual practice of awakening to the good and beautiful in my life and in the world. Even in the darkest of times, I know that there is a blessing, too, knocking on my door. Looking out my window in Highland Park, IL, I see the budding leaves of spring starting to open. In a few days the trees will be completely green. The process of rebirth, of opening up, reminds me of my own potential and encourages me to live in humility – to know that not everything is about me and equally that I matter. I am reminded of the presence of Holiness in this world, and in myself.

What are some things that you are grateful for this week?

How do you express your gratitude?

What spiritual practices help you live in Humility?

Day 30
Discipline in Humility
By Rabbinic Intern Hannah J.

This whole week of the Omer (week 5) is focused on Humility and how all other attributes manifest within it. And if the last two months have reminded us of anything consistently it has been humility. It is something that recovery reminds us of every. single. day. and now the whole world is experiencing it in a new way. What does it feel like now to live in humility? How is it possible to feel much other than humility in the face of forces so far beyond our control? In some ways this virus has actually made the intangible more tangible – we’ve always known that we had very little control over things, but that often felt amorphous, it often felt hard to pin down exactly how to access that feeling. But now we have this tangible, real, calculable thing that reminds us over and over again that it is beyond our control. That instead we must stay in humility.

And on top of that, this 30th day is about Discipline. And the discipline that we are being called to execute in our humility right now is the discipline to put one foot in front of the other and to abide by the restrictions that are being asked of us. And, despite the frustrations that come with the limitations to our ‘normal’ freedoms and abilities, there is a peace that can arrive, too. A peace in knowing that we’ve only ever been able to control our own actions and tiny decisions, and that this gives us that reminder tenfold.

Day 29
Loving-kindness that is in Surrender
By Bob S.

Hod is the Sefirah or attribute of G-d which is translated as surrender. The very word surrender implies a struggle or battle. So what was I fighting? What do I need to surrender or give up? 

From my own experience, I knew I had never surrendered my own will over to a dependence on what I could perceive as G-d’s will for me. Every time I thought I had made a decision to turn my life and will over to the care of G-d, I came to realize later on the I hadn’t truly done so. I held back, afraid and reluctant to really commit. The very word surrender was scary and contrary to my own self-image. It was frightening because it felt like losing control. I was attempting to run my like on my own, convinced of my own self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Losing control felt like losing self. 

The 12 & 12 puts it this way: “Nothing is going to turn me into a non-entity! If I keep turning it over, what will become of me? I’ll look like the hole in the doughnut”!

To give up, to surrender meant I was weak, a loser. The very first sentence in the 12 & 12 says “Who cares to admit complete defeat? Practically no one of course”. 

My reliance upon self, my futile attempts at self-control, my own thinking, had failed me. It was in fact my Achilles heel, my very undoing. I had to admit my powerlessness, my utter defeat. 

When I came back into Beit T’Shuvah last December, it was with the realization that I had failed to develop my own spiritual program. To accomplish this, I had to surrender, to get out of my own way. I found I could reconcile my self-will with G-d’s will by keeping in mind and prayer the sentence from the 3rd step prayer “Relieve me of the bondage of self that I may better do your will”. Instead of trying to overcome my problems by sheer determination and delusions of control, I can pray to align my will and actions to be in accord with what I can perceive G-d’s will is for me. 

There is assaying in AA “surrender to win”. I can now view surrender not so much as defeat but choosing to quit fighting a losing battle and join the winning side.

Day 28
Endurance
By Kyle P.

Today’s character trait is Netzach, which includes endurance, persistence, and resilience. 

I have the ability today to navigate through struggles over a period of time in a strong determined way. Monday was my sons 3rd birthday which I saw over zoom and was the first birthday of his that I was mentally present for even though I wasn’t physically present. That is recovery. 

Through the difficulties that brought my here, I can’t say I overcame them because I do feel pain but have learned to manage them in a healthy way. The one thing that is persistent is the reminders I get daily. When I work the front desk I get calls from people begging me to get into beit tshuvah saying how their lives are on the line and hanging up the phone remembering that I am one of lucky few who has a bed here and isn’t living in active addiction. I get to fully embrace sadness and get to embrace the feeling. 

When my dad passed away a few months ago on his death bed I was loaded and couldn’t even be present for him in his last days. That’s something I can never get back and let that be a strong reminder of how strong my addiction is. Today I’ve managed by embracing the good times I had with him but never forget where the fuck i came from. 

When I walked into beit tshuvah I was so broken barely holding on by a thread, but by people here helping me everyday and seeing the growth in them has got to the point where I get to be present for others today while helping myself. 

When I was watching Noah’s memorial service, that was the most I cried in a long time. I told Rabbi Micha’el and Chaplain Adam the fact how they volunteered to run the service, didn’t do it for brownie points, and it’s because it’s who they are and I’m blessed to be apart of this. It made me feel shitty and good that when Noah’s mom lori thanked me for getting her son back for a few months before he passed. That’s something that reminds me of the work I put in and how we as a community we’re able to reunite a family and give them the son they are suppose to have by working on ourselves. 

I’m living proof that death, divorce, homelessness, and emptiness doesn’t mean I need to give up. God wouldn’t even let me successfully kill myself, which means I have a purpose on this earth. Selfishness got buried in the grave and now my heart beats pain and happiness which I get to embrace today and help the next person under any circumstances because of this magical place and the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank you.

To staff:
As a resident, since the beginning Ive looked up to all of you and have what you want. Through your example I’m able to learn and grow from that and see characteristics that I want in my life. Through this pandemic I am grateful for my safety here and the fact that this place is open so that my recovery doesn’t stop. Please continue being you so that I get to mold myself into the man I’m supposed to be.

Day 27
Bonding in Endurance
By Anthony K.

Bonding is an essential quality of endurance. It expresses your unwavering commitment to the person or experience with which you are bonding, a commitment so powerful that you will endure all to preserve it. 

Endurance without bonding will not endure.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve given up on something after a week or a month or years. And I somehow always have a quick excuse that’s just barely good enough so I don’t have to feel that guilty about it. “That friend and I just grew apart.” “That New Year’s resolution I wanted to do just wasn’t that important.” “If I quit drinking, won’t first dates be really awkward?” (These are all actual excuses I’ve said lol.) For me, this endurance that I lack has to come from two things: prioritizing what’s important and commitment to what I’ve prioritized. Another way of thinking about this is thought and planning vs action. Unfortunately, this means I can make mistakes two different ways. I can prioritize the wrong things and put a lot of effort into something or someone that I eventually realize wasn’t all that important OR I can know who or what is important and still not care enough to put effort into them. For me to endure, to be in it for the long haul, I need both. 

So how am I trying to prevent these mistakes? For prioritization, I know I can’t do it by myself. I’ve been wrong too many times in the past doing it that way and I’ll be wrong many times in the future if I continue doing it the same way. My opinion is still very important but I know I need to discuss it with those that I respect and know care about me. I need to be willing to listen, using my brain and not just my ears. To be present, and not just there. I also know this process will take serious work on my part outside of these discussions. It will also take rigorous honesty, like the program talks about. If I’m not honest to myself or those I’m discussing it with, what’s the point?

After that process, commitment comes a little more easily for me but it’s not a guarantee. Sobriety is obviously important. So is structure, connection, exercise, and other things that I’m coming to find that work. If I have these things in my life while I put in the work required to prioritize what I honestly find important, I will be able to endure. Most people can do most things for a short time. I know I’m a perfect example of that. But I understand that one thing that separates most people from those who I think truly succeed is endurance. I want that. 

Day 26
Inspiration of Persistence

Cristie S teaches – As I learn to harness the power of persistence in my recovery, I learn that recovery is a slow process, and not always pretty… but even so, I have the power to continue, to persist, to not give up.

Annie G teaches – I am, and I must be, persistent in my quest to connect with my Higher Power.  Even as I struggle at times, my persistence leads me to moments of connection, and moments of inspiration.

Day 25
Endurance
By Bill C.

Welcome to week 4 of the counting of the omer,  Today is day 25.  That means that we are exactly halfway through with the 49 day count from Passover to Shavuot.

This week’s omer quality is Netzach.  Netzach is sometimes translated as ‘eternity’, and in the context of Kabbalah  and the omer, connects us to the qualities of victory, perpetuity, or ‘endurance’.

Endurance is a very important quality today, day 41 or room lock down here.  Endurance means to exert oneself for a long, sustained period of time.  And, the ability to resist, withstand, and recover from trauma, addiction, wounds, and fatigue.

Netzach is having the fortitude, and patience to follow through on your passions.

For me, the connection is clear and obvious.  Each one of us, resident and staff, have been challenged to access our NETZACH, our endurance, during this challenging Corona times.  We’ve endured room lock down, short breaks, quick meals, zoom therapy and process groups, and three deaths of friends and fellow addicts.

In an even broader sense, everybody who comes to Beit T’shuvah for an extended stay, really does have to exert oneself for an extended period of time, to withstand great challenges and struggles, to resist the voice and temptation of relapse, and to recover from fatigue, trauma and each of our addictive diseases.

This week, I will, and I challenge you to, really focus on the NETZACH within you during these times.  As our passions develop, and our recoveries grow in length, we will all need the NETZACH vibe — the endurance, the victory, to one day at a time ensure that our paths stay positive and that we don’t let the struggles, disappointments, resentments and frustrations STOP US from reaching our passions.  There are so many gifted and talented people in this house right now — and each one of you has the ability to touch so many other recovering people, and people in general, if we all continue to focus on endurance.

While there are times when it feels exhausting and overwhelming, may we each have the NETZACH this week to remain focused on what brought us here — our need to rebuild, recover, reconnect and follow through with our commitment, to ourselves, to make this recovery really matter in our lives.

Day 24
Endurance
By Rabbi Sofia Zway

This week of the Omer we are focusing on the quality of netzach, which is endurance. I like to think of Netzach as resilience – our ability to endure and persist and survive in the face of challenges and to come out on the other side thriving!

How have we proven to be resilient during these last few weeks?
Who or what keeps you grounded and helps you move forward in the face of challenges?
What new ways of being have you learned that help you thrive?

We’re almost halfway there!

Day 23
Discipline in Endurance
By Rabbi Micha’el Akiba

Discipline in Endurance feels like a heavy task today, to somehow both find any discipline or endurance in this current reality. Both of those things have felt like hard parts of the day to day experience we are living. And yet – there has to be space for them and some kind of striving for them.

If anything, we are developing endurance every single moment of every day of every week of living in quarantine. If we had known how long this would be going on from the beginning of this we would not have believed we could do it, that we could get through so many days. But here we are. And so, we do have endurance and we are continuing to cultivate it. And discipline – well, discipline is a trickier one. But for today, this 23rd day of the Omer, I wonder what it would be like to find a small moment of discipline for ourselves – to be intentional and focused and committed to one small area of our day, one little place to try it out, maybe one little task we have been putting off. And then, like with everything else these days, just see how it feels.

Day 22
Sovereignty in Balance
By Bob Sp.

While in AA, I must admit my powerlessness in many respects, I must also take ownership of the power (netzach) I do have; the powers of choice, faith and hope through my attitudes and actions enable me to overcome (netzach) my addiction thinking and behaviors.

Day 21
Sovereignty in Balance
By Kyle P.

Tiferet is situated between kindness and discipline. What comes out of combining both of them is harmony. I believe as a man in recovery I have to be at peace with myself in order to grow. That means everyday I need to fill my spiritual bank account and to treat others only with kindness even if they show evil towards me. Even though bad shit has Happened to us,

it doesn’t mean I have to continue the war path I was on using drugs. Everyday I see the evil in my actions and is important everyday I remind myself of the pain and agony I lived in before I came here and remind myself how I’ve flushed the old me down the toilet and how I am growing from a boy to a Man. An example of me not in balance is when I let anger take a hold of my soul. In that moment I disregard what anyone says and get stuck in self and say fuck it , and then want to take out what I’m feeling on anyone because I don’t want to take responsibility for what I’m feeling. Today is different though because I am not the same person that walked into Beit T’Shuvah. Today I  am responsible most importantly by supporting my son everyday and every way can and being a present father. I was asked today if I won a million dollars what’s one thing I want and all I said was an airplane ticket to see my son. We get to change our identities and feelings and get to make mistakes here and have the ability to adapt and change. At 4 months sober I have a lot to learn but yeah I’m cocky with the growth I’ve made because I am proud of myself and got the confidence through discipline and kindness that beit tshuvah has given me. Thank you. 

To the staff:
I’ll always stay humble through this process and want to remind you that your work is saving lives and I sit here in disbelief in all the work you do to help us. Thank you so much, and if I can do anything for any of you let me know anytime. 

To the staff:
Beit T’Shuvah has changed me and impacted my life to an extent I never thought was possible. I’ve gone from being selfish to actually really giving a fuck about others to an extent where it hurts. I’ve re discovered my heart and know how to and recognize the pain I’ve caused and I refuse to ever to that again. To grow from a boy to a man is a gift and to be a present father is something I’d never thought was possible and is the true definition of priceless.

Day 20
Bonding in Compassion
By Anthony K.

For compassion to be fully realized, it needs bonding. It requires creating a channel between giver and receiver, a mutuality that extends beyond moment of need; a bond that continue to live on. That is the most gratifying result of true compassion.

Do you bond with the one you have compassion for, or do you remain apart? Does your interaction achieve anything beyond a single act of sympathy?

Exercise for the day: Ensure that something eternal is built as a result of your compassion.

For me, this comes back to intention. When I do things, I can do them with intention or I can do them mindlessly. It sounds weird but I think sometimes my acts of compassion can be mindless and without intention. It just feels like the right thing to do or maybe it’s out of sympathy or even sometimes it’s guilt. So I do it as a reaction to that emotion and it’s a mindless win-win. They feel better and I feel better. But today’s Omer is saying if I stop there, that feeling is temporary and that these moments can be opportunities for something more. I can have the intention of trying to create a bond with someone and go deeper than that temporary feel good feeling. Something that’s continual and fulfilling. Does this have to happen every single time I do an act of compassion? No, I think that’s impossible. Sometimes doing a nice thing is just doing nice thing.

Will I always succeed in creating a deeper bond? No, it’s a two person job and sometimes people just aren’t into it. But if I continue practicing this intention, then I will hopefully create more real and lasting connections with people I never would have otherwise.

Day 19
Splendor of Balance

Cristie S teaches – Balance inspires me to see the beauty and depth of the whole picture of my life, both darkness and light.  While I want to embrace the light, I also have to remember that darkness is also part of my story, and is an important reminder of where I came from.  I am inspired as I remember that growth involves destruction, that a seed must cease to exist in order to become a tree.

Annie G teaches – Balance makes me think of the line in the Big Book, “Self-knowledge avails us nothing.”  In my recovery it’s been a challenge to balance the spiritual and intuitive piece with the active, seeking piece.  As I seek balance in my life and recovery, I must relax my quest for certainty, and open myself to a flow of spiritual energy and growth in my spiritual life.  Balance is the ultimate both/and; in the words of Goldilocks, it feels “just right”.

Day 18
Beauty, Compassion, Balance
By Bill C.

It is so relevant that we connect the counting of the Omer to making personal change.  First, we learn about seven different “key” character traits, one per week, both of God and human beings (we being created in the image of God).  We don’t only study about these traits, but we work to integrate these concepts into our real lives.  Hopefully, this isn’t simply an intellectual educational exercise — though that is a foundation — but rather, this study challenges us to integrate these key concepts into our daily work of 12 step recovery, therapy and spirituality.

Today we find ourselves on Day 18 of the Counting of the Omer.   The focus of this week’s character refinement is “Tiferet” in Hebrew, which translates to “beauty” or “harmony” in English,

Both Tiferet and beauty can have a variety of meanings, but the one that I will focus on today is that of beauty through harmony. Harmony is not easy to define.  But for me, the clearest meaning of harmony is “combining different parts into a pleasing and orderly whole” or “agreement in feelings, actions, ideas and living peacefully”

First of all, it strikes me that there is INTERNAL and EXTERNAL harmony.

Internally, my mind, my body, my decision making, were anything but harmonious.  The gambling voice, my internal addict, took over all the power, and all of my other inclinations and values were pushed down to be almost meaningless.

 And now I realize that a big part of the pain was that harmony and congruence were impossible.  It is only now, with the help of the 12 steps, Anonymous meetings, my treatment team, sponsors, and awesome friends here — can I begin to internally become harmonious.  It’s just beginning to happen — but as my different inclinations begin to take proper measure, my inner turmoil is changing to some type of harmony.  I know this because there is now more congruity between what I say, and what I do.

Externally, I was living fully in dis-harmony.  Over the course of two years, I hurt, disconnected and lost family, friends, people at work — you know, everybody that I really cared about.  This is my most serious wreckage.  Yes, the financial wreckage sucks a lot — but the relationship destruction is where most of my work now has to be.   Making true amends to those that I hurt is the only way that I can possibly create external harmony.  Being of service, being honest, being vulnerable, being authentic, and being accountable  — all opposite actions, which can lead in real life to external harmony.

To wrap, if I am to find tiferet — both internal and external harmony, it will take acceptance, hopefully leading to serenity:  Things will not move at the pace that I would like — so today — I’ll remember in the name of harmony:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Day 17
Beauty, Compassion, Balance
By Rabbinic Intern Sofia Zway

As our counting continues, today is 17 days, which is two weeks and three days of the Omer. This week we are focusing on Tiferet (Beauty, Compassion, Balance).

How do we find the balance in compassion?

These past six weeks have been challenging. As a community, we have had to push ourselves to show up for each other in new, sometimes challenging ways. We have had to practice compassion for one another as we all adapt to this strange new (please God temporary) way of life. In the process, I have found myself being harder on myself. You’re not doing enough to help.  You’re not doing your best work right now. Why aren’t you doing more? Why can’t you just focus on what you need to do?

I’m grateful that this day of the Omer is giving me the opportunity to reflect on how imbalanced my compassion has been. I’ve been reserving all my compassion for others while leaving none for myself.  I’ve been offering advice and compassionate words to others, but I haven’t allowed myself to hear those same words. Some days are tougher than others, but we are all doing the best we can under the circumstances.  We are enough. We are doing our best. 

How are you cultivating self-compassion?

As we continue to show up for each other, how can we show up for ourselves?

Wishing everyone a week full of self-compassion!

Day 16
Compassion
By Hannah J.

Discipline and compassion feel like two of the pillars that we are all building our lives upon right now. We need both more than ever and also they feel so hard.

These. Are. Unprecedented. Times. We keep hearing this everywhere. But what does that mean for us day to day? One of the things it most means is that this time is a precarious one, and the least we can do is be kind to ourselves and others as we navigate it. We may not be able to accomplish all of the things we are used to accomplishing, we may struggle with motivation, we may forget things, and all of that requires serious self-compassion. Those things are okay and real and valid! And also, on the other side of that, we can still strive for discipline. We can make our beds every morning and cook good meals and call our friends and family and take walks. We can attempt to create meaning for ourselves through structuring these formless days. And also – when we can’t quite get there, when we fall short, we can reach back into the compassion we’re developing and let whatever we’ve done be enough.

I hope we all find a moment of both discipline and compassion today!

Day 15
Strength
By Bob S.

G-d’s beauty is manifest in this world when I can leave the ugliness of alcoholism and recognize the beauty within myself, within others and in the world.

Shabbat shalom and Chodesh tov!

Day 14
Strength
By Kyle P.

Today is about strength, which is gevurah in hebrew and I’m focusing on  setting boundaries today.

Setting boundaries is something difficult for me. I lived a long time by doing things on my own and not caring about any consequences. That I don’t give a fuck mentality had my grave waiting for me. 

I am and have learned that maintaining boundaries in my recovery is vital because if I ignore them I will fail. Making my self-care a priority, is the most important to do, which means working on myself everyday, living in recovery which means working a program, participating in groups, writing about my feelings and be in tune with them.

We sometimes think of setting boundaries means to tell someone how you feel or to speak up for yourself but theirs more to it.

Another way is being self aware. 

I try to stay present in all moments all the time, because when I dont the contrary action helps me succeed and realize that sadly life isn’t fair that we will. 

Always have to do things everyday we don’t want to do. 

Beit tshuvah has taught me to speak up for myself when I disagree with something, or importantly, when someone would say something hurtful now I will properly pull them to the side and explain to them 1 on 1 what they did and to stop it instead of being a tough guy and try fight it, or  I can let it continue and keep my mouth shut while I let it destroy me inside. 

Holding myself accountable and others is the key component to my recovery. I will call you out on your shit and expect the same in return. 

The day I buried my dad I decided I would do whatever it takes to be sober and I get to live by my words today through action. 

None of us are alone and I’ve said it but I’m here for anyone anytime. Death is a reality but a chance at this life is limited and we all deserve this.

-Thank you to all the staff
You are all the reason I am alive and living in recovery. My gratitude will always lie in my heart and thank you for all you do.

Day 13
Bonding in Discipline
By Anthony K.

For discipline to be effective it must be coupled with commitment and bonding. Both in disciplining yourself and others there has to be a sense that the discipline is important for developing a stronger bond. Not that I discipline you, but that we are doing it together for our mutual benefit.

I think we all know that discipline is important in life, especially to those in recovery. The discipline to say no to what we shouldn’t do and to say yes to what we should. The discipline to make the next right decision. Many of us struggle with this every, single day and for good reason: it’s fucking hard. The good news is that we’re together in this experience and that togetherness, that bond, is what makes something that hard a lot more doable. 

I never thought I would have the bonds like I have with people here, especially in my gambler’s group. We’re a close-knit bunch and at this point, we’re not afraid to call each other out, to not co-sign each other’s bullshit. When I do this, I usually don’t sugarcoat my delivery. I say it like I see it and it’s not because I’m judging them or because I think I’m better than them. I’m speaking as a peer and a fellow addict and I usually speak up because I see things in them that I’ve done or am still doing myself. I’m actually realizing that by holding them accountable, it makes me that much more accountable for myself. Who am I to say anything to them if I don’t say those same things to myself? But these conversations can be rough. People can get defensive. Arguments happen. Tension can get high. But even if the discussions aren’t always pretty, by applying that discipline to each other from a place of love and commitment, our bonds and our recovery come out stronger for it.

Day 12
Humility of Strength

Cristie S teaches: Coming in to Beit T’Shuvah was an opportunity to transform, change, and renew myself.  Part of that for me includes learning to have healthy boundaries when I never had any boundaries at all before.  I have been humbled to find that I have the strength to learn to hold these boundaries as I grow in recovery.

Annie G teaches: Before coming back to Beit T’Shuvah I was sober and living in recovery, and I thought that to prove my strength I had to take on more, and more, and more.  Now I am learning the importance of having humility about what I am able to take on, and coming to understand that I can be even stronger when I hold healthy boundaries with myself.

Day 11
Strength/Boundaries/Discipline
by Bill C.

Today –, we will begin to explore the second area for refinement or improvement, because today is Day 11 of the counting of the omer, so we are in the middle of the second week.

The characteristic that we will explore is GEVURAHin Hebrew.  Gevurah is literally translated as STRENGTH or MIGHT.  In the teaching connected to the omer, GEVURAH is understood to mean strength, might, justice or discipline.  We are not talking about physical strength here, but the emotional strength or might to be disciplined, and to pursue justice.

Discipline is defined as the quality of being able to behave in a controlled way which involves obeying rules and standards.   When I was in my addiction, my highest value was the FREEDOM to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted to do it.  I did not have the internal strength to follow any rules or standards that others imposed upon me.  I also was unable to maintain my own code of values and morals.  

Real questions, connected to discipline: 

Am I disciplined enough to attend a GA meeting even when I don’t want to?  

Am I disciplined enough to call my sponsor or continue my step work even with Netflix or Amazon Prime only a click away?  

Am I disciplined enough to respond kindly when a PF reminds me that I need to be here or there, or to take direction even when I get a response of  “no” when a “yes” would have been preferred?  

Am I strong enough today to keep MY OWN moral code, even at challenging or difficult times?

My final question involving discipline is this, am I disciplined enough to SURRENDER each and every day?  To make the decision to be humble, and to be confronted and defeated by a higher and truer being.  

The old vision of freedom that I have sacrificed led me to only destruction and loss, hurting those that I loved most.  My greatest hopes and dreams will require GEVURAH, inner strength, might and discipline to be realized.

Day 10
Strength/Boundaries/Discipline
by Rabbinic Intern Sofia Zway

Today (Sat night-Sunday) is the 10th day of the Omer, making one week and three days of the Omer. Here are today’s thoughts on the attribute of Gevurah (Strength/Boundaries/Discipline).

This past month, as we have all been safer at home, has invited and challenged us to adjust our boundaries, extending some and removing others. We have learned that boundaries are important to protect ourselves and others, to establish a sense of control when we feel overwhelmed and to enable us to navigate the different aspects of our lives. Yes, boundaries are important, but they can also be dangerous when they consistently keep other people out.

As we have adjusted our personal and physical boundaries this past month, how have we opened up our hearts and minds to let others in?

How can I embrace the beauty and flexibility of gevurah to readjust my boundaries as things around me change?

How can I use boundary setting and flexibility to grow my own strength and resilience in challenging times?

Day 9
Discipline/Boundaries
by Chaplain Adam Siegel

Since the 9th day of the Omer begins on Friday night, we hope this provides some inspiration on Shabbat.  

Today is the second day of the attribute: Gevurah (Discipline/Boundaries): 

Limits are important; without them chaos would reign.  Even love has its rules. Yet even the very qualities that allow us to establish limits are the same ones the can lead to oppression and evil.  Judgment-so necessary for almost every aspect of daily living-can become judgmentalism. Power – so necessary for the implementation of the good-can become drunk with itself, overpowering others.

Today we have the opportunity to reflect on the way our competiveness and desire to win may be hurtful to others, and how my self-concern can be dismissive of the needs of others and even be destructive. (Siddur Lev Shalom)

What limits do I need to place on my ego? What limits should I place on my desires?

Perhaps I might pause to stand in awe, stopping for a moment appreciate what is around me and better accept my limitations.

Day 8
Discipline/Boundaries
by Rabbi Joseph Shamash

Today (Thursday night – Friday) is the 8th day of the Omer which is one week and one day of the Omer. 

We begin the 2nd week of counting the Omer on our spiritual journey to revelation. A new week therefore brings about a new  attribute: Gevurah(Discipline/Boundaries): 

“If love (chesed) is the bedrock of human expression, discipline (gevurah) is the channel through which we express love. It gives our life and love direction and focus. Like a laser beam, its potency lies in the focus and concentration of light in one direction, rather than fragmented light beams dispersed in all different directions. Gevurah concentrates and directs our efforts, our love in the proper directions.” – Rabbi Simon Jacobson

Today’s attribute is Hesed of Gevurah (Loving-kindness in Discipline), which is how well we are able to give love to our discipline.  

Do we feel “burdened” by our to do list or are we aware that we “get to do” these sacred tasks?  

Exercise for the day: Do something that usually feels burdensome with a renewed sense of loving-kindness. 

And have a wonderful shabbat too!

Day 7
Godliness of Lovingkindness
by Chaplain Adam Siegel

Today we complete our first week of counting and conclude our focus on the attribute of loving-kindness (chesed). 

Our tradition informs us that the nature of our relationship with a Power Greater Than Ourselves is one grounded in love.  Many of us define love as an action, regardless of the emotional experience.  

Because there may be a disconnect with our felt reality, it can get confusing, fast.  Part of our work is training ourselves to identify when others are trying to liberate us from our respective slaveries, much like G!D did for the enslaved Israelites.  Often times, this doesn’t “feel” good and, initially, we may reject or push back against the help that people are trying to provide. It’s our responsibility to get over ourselves (which can be an act of self-love) and remain open to the truth that is being illuminated for us.

Our tradition trains us to recognize that freedom is a gift given through Divine assistance.  It also trains us to understand that the appropriate response to gifts of freedom comes in the form of reciprocal obligations.

Are you connected to…and fulfilling the obligations that accompany the freedoms you’re enjoying? 

Day 6
Foundation of Loving-Kindness
by Rabbi Ben Goldstein

Sometimes the universe just aligns. In some small way, I feel like being assigned today for the Omer is an illustration of that. The idea of lovingkindness, and exploring the foundation for lovingkindness, has been an integral part of my spiritual journey.

The foundation for compassion or lovingkindness is the ability to be loving and compassionate with ourselves. We might think that it’s not an essential piece, but if we aren’t able to be kind to ourselves, then any compassion we have for others will eventually wither and crumble, and the judgments we feel about ourselves will spill onto our loved ones.

Sometimes people will say we’re not hard enough on ourselves, that we should stop enabling ourselves, get over things and just move on. I disagree. When we beat ourselves up for our feelings or behaviors, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn from them.

In meditation, there’s an exercise called Metta, or lovingkindness; it’s the act of sending out feelings of love and compassion to others and to ourselves. It demonstrates that love for ourselves is inseparable from love for others.

Self-compassion is not the same as complacency or letting ourselves off the hook for our bad behavior. It’s wanting and rooting for our self-improvement the same way we would for a friend. Self-compassion is the foundation for true lovingkindness, and a path for a renewed sense of compassion for others.

Day 5
Splendor of Loving-Kindness
by Rabbi Miriam Green Potok

When I think of lovingkindness this year, I think of our relationships with the people we are living with.  Most of us are lucky to get along with, even love, those we share a home with… but this season poses unique challenges.  We’re not just living with our roommates, partners, and children… we’re with them all the time!  More than ever, lovingkindness is crucial!

Sometimes we need to access the “perspiration” of lovingkindness – the patience and persistence it can take to move through everyday conflicts.  And sometimes we need to access the “inspiration” of lovingkindness – the moments we are able to forgive with ease, to laugh in moments of stress, to leave yesterday behind and see what today will bring.

Blessings to us all for this Fifth Day of the Omer – for ease and patience, inspiration and splendor, in our lovingkindness.

Day 4
Loving-Kindness
by Rabbi Micha’el

For me, “loving-kindness” is the action that demonstrates genuine concern and consideration for the well- being of others, the desire to help those in need, to act with mercy, and to be of service.How am I practicing chesed? As a Jew, I believe that since we are all created in the image and likeness of G-d and having a holy soul, I am obligated to do my best to emulate these qualities of G-d in all my actions. To be at peace with others, mend relations, and prevent resentments, I pray that G-d will fill my heart with the quality of chesed.The Twelve & Twelve says: “Courtesy, kindness, justice and love are the keynotes by which we may come into harmony with practically anybody.”

The everyday way I can practice chesed is to just look for ways to be of service, ways to help others, and to practice self-care.

Day 3
Tiferet (balance) within Chesed (lovingkindness)
by Chaplain Adam

We can find harmony and balance in community by expressing lovingkindness towards one another, exercising compassion, and trusting the idea that people are genuinely trying their best with the tools that they have and by trusting this process we will inevitably grow.

 Meditate on the following quote:
“I don’t know if people are doing the best they can. I really don’t. All I know is that my life is better when I assume they are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and keeps me focused on what is and not what should or could be.” -Brene Brown, Rising Strong

-BTS Residents Ethan J. & Devon Kn.

Day 2
Gevurah (boundaries) within Chesed (lovingkindness)
by Chaplain Adam

There is an inner core strength of loving kindness necessary to display true tenderness and consideration towards others that helps build us individually and together as a community to make us one. 

 How are you connecting and protecting this inner core?

Day 1
Loving-Kindness

by Chaplain Adam

Each of us has the capacity to love in our hearts.  The bigger question is if and how we are actualizing and expressing it.

Are you able to connect with your capacity to love today?
Do I struggle with giving or receiving love?
How am I going to express my love today?