Reb Tirzah’s Omer Journey: Week Two

Week Two of the Omer: (April 7 through 13)

Week of Gevurah: Strength


Image for the week: The strong shoot pushing up out of the earth.

The true person coming out of hiding.

Text I: Mishnah Avot: Chapter 2:5

In a place where there are no people (of character)
determine to be a person/a mensch/your true self.
B’makom she-eyn anashim, hishtadel lihiyot ish. (Rabbi Hillel)


The first week of Passover, we felt and prayed for the flow of dew and richness, in the form of our rituals and gatherings of family and friends. As we ate our humble matzah, we asked for our faith to be nourished. Now, during this second week, the cycle of Gevurah, we work to put that faith into action, even if we are still a bit unsure of ourselves; to discern what it is we need to grow in our interior garden and focus our intention to make it happen. This requires Gevurah: determination and focus.

The Sephirah of Gevurah has many words associated with it: Might, Restraint, Boundaries, Form, Judgment. Don’t let all these words confuse you! They are simply various ways to connote the firmness needed in our lives. Gevurah is the necessary counterbalance to Chesed, because overflowing love and goodness can become unmanageable, overwhelming, even oppressive. When we ground ourselves and create the necessary structures and disciplines in our life, we are allowing the flow of Chesed to be channeled usefully, to nourish us well.

This is the week to ask yourself: Where am I manifesting my authentic self, showing up for the benefit of all? And where am I still in hiding? Holding in a pattern of old fear?

There may be areas in your life where you need to give yourself an extra push, to rally your energies, to get out, to risk, to share your best self more boldly with the world. Don’t wait.

Text II: Evidence by Mary Oliver

There are many ways to perish, or to flourish.
How old pain, for example, can stall us
at the threshold of function.
Memory: a golden bowl,
or a basement without light.
For which reason the nightmare comes
with its painful story and says:
you need to know this.
Some memories I would give anything to forget.
Others I would not give up upon the point of death,
They are the bright hawks of my life.
Still, friends, consider stone, that is without
The fret of gravity, and water that is without anxiety.
And the pine trees that never forget
their recipe for renewal.
And the female wood duck who is looking this way
and that for her children, and the snapping turtle
who is looking this way and that also.
This is the world.
And consider always, everyday, the determination
of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles.

Text III: Abraham Joshua Heschel

The heart is often a lonely voice in the marketplace of living..The problem of the soul is how to live nobly in an animal environment; how to persuade and train the tongue and the senses to behave in agreement with the insight of the soul.

Text IV: Our Passion for Justice by Carter Heyward

Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists of justice know, loving involves struggle, resistance, risk..the most compelling relationships demand hard work, patience, and a willingness to endure tensions and anxiety in creating mutually empowering bonds. For this reason, loving involves commitment.

Text V: It Felt Love by Hafiz

did the rose
ever open its heart
and give to this world
all its
It felt the encouragement of light
against its
otherwise, we all remain

About Rabbi Tirzah Firestone

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