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Reb Tirzah’s Omer Journey: Week One

Week One of the Omer: (March 31 through April 6)

Week of Chesed (Loving Kindness)

Middah of the Week: Emunah~Faith in God’s Largesse

Image for the Week: Honey from the Rock

Text I: Psalm 81:17

Then (Hashem)will feed us cream of the wheat, and from the rock, honey.
U-mi-tzur d’vahsh ahs-bi-echa

Overview: Every Sephirah has a cosmic/divine face and a personal one. We can attune and harmonize ourselves to the former, so as to develop and refine the latter. Chesed is pure love. As the first sephirah to emerge from the womb of Binah and the upper sephirot, Chesed is the expression of God’s love and grace in the universe. In human beings Chesed takes the form of EMUNAH, or faith that life will provide for us and sustain us. When we have this faith, gratitude follows and sharing with others comes naturally.

Cultivating emunah, faith, is an essential aspect of Chesed because for Hashem’s grace to broadcast into the world, we must be there to acknowledge and receive it. There is a mystical relationship between our faith and openhearted receiving of God’s gifts and the flow of bounty in our lives.

As spring breaks forth in our rocky country, we shed the winter in our hearts and miraculously regain our playfulness; renew our friendships; remember the sheer goodness of life. God’s gifts, like honey from a rock, show up where we thought there was only harshness. We give thanks and pass the gifts along.

Text II: Zohar (III 128):

I believe with perfect faith that the holy blessed One, in his glory, directly sent a taste of freely bestowed Chesed to me. And through an arousal from above, (sends) the kind dew of generosity to help and redeem me.”

Text III: No-am Elyon A Teaching from Reb Shlomo Carlebach tz”l

Reb Nachman talks about some thing called No-am Elyon, a kind of holy sweetness which flows down from Heaven. This sweetness is so whole, that if your mind isn’t whole, and if your emotions aren’t whole then you can’t taste it. You don’t have the palate in which G-d can give you the taste of holy sweetness.

Matzo is the simplest bread in the world, just flour and water. No salt, no pepper. Reb Nachman says that on Yom Tov the No-am Elyon flows from Heaven in simplicity. If you are not whole, you cannot receive it. The matza we eat gives over to us its simplicity, wholeness. Matza tastes so good because it is a piece of the sweetness of No-am Elyon.

What makes us so perverted? We put so much work into our little piece of bread. What do people do for the few rubles they make? They put their whole heart and soul into it, and each time they do, they become more and more slaves.

The matza we eat on Pesach doesn’t take much time to make. We put the least amount of time into our food, and the rest of the time we have is for doing great things, to be free. When you eat the matza you really have to be with it, you can’t talk or joke. The piece has to be really big, and you sit and mamash eat matza. Once a year there is a mitzvah to eat, we are commanded to eat matza. Okay. It is also a mitzvah to eat on Shabbos, but it is not on the same level.

On Shabbos we have to be happy, oneg Shabbos, so we make ourselves happy by eating. On Seder night, we fulfil the biggest mitzvah in the world when we are eating matza. The holy Sanzer would sit after the Seder, and put his hands on his stomach, and say “Oy! Tonight my stomach did so many mitzvos!”

The afikomen, the last piece of matza is really not from this world. We put it away, we hide it, and then we eat it. It is coming from a completely hidden world. When we eat the afikomen, all our prayers are answered in that moment.

On Pesach we celebrate freedom, which means that G-d in Heaven opens the gates of freedom. This world is just a vessel for higher worlds, so something is happening in Heaven on Pesach night, and actually the whole month of Nisan, the month of freedom. We see all of nature becoming free. All the little seeds who were sitting under the earth and crying are now coming out, becoming free. Everything begins to grow.

TEXTS IV & V: Jelaluddin Rumi (13th Century, Persia)

Spring, and no one can be still,
with all the messages coming through.
We walk outside as though going to meet visitors,
wild roses trilliums by the water.

A tight knot loosens.
Something which died in December
lifts a head out,
and opens.


Spring, and everything outside is growing, even the tall cypress tree.
We must not leave this place.
Around the lip of the cup we share, these words:
My Life Is Not Mine

from These Branching Moments, Copper Beach Press

About Rabbi Tirzah Firestone

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