April 17, 2020
The Week of Gevurah
With the second Seder eve, we began our annual count of 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot. We are taught that Israel was betrothed to God with the Redemption and wed at Sinai; these seven weeks comprise our courtship. Our mystical tradition offers an opportunity to get to know our Divine Beloved, reflecting upon an aspect of God each week. First was Chesed – lovingkindness. Now we have entered the week of Gevurah – meaning strength, judgment, structure, and boundaries.
So, what might we consider, regarding judgment or boundaries this year?
The first week of the Omer was easy. It’s easy to see Chesed – lovingkindness manifest in the neighbourliness that has blossomed in the face of shared adversity. But do we also perceive divine Gevurah – the strong hand of our Creator setting a limit?
Can we bare to link the spread of the virus to human transgression, our failure to heed boundaries of “need” and greed? Can we tolerate the possibility that the earth has already whispered (with animals dying), and spoken (with glaciers melting), and screamed (with fires and floods and hurricanes) – begging us to set limits? Now, a virus has drawn our unstop-able world to a grinding halt. Is there a zroah netuyah, a mighty outstretched hand of redemption to be perceived in this?
Exercising gevurah in resolving to say at home within confines that keep humanity safest, we surely experience the blessing of limits, margins and restrictions. Let’s accept the limits that have been imposed upon us as an opportunity to reconsider the boundaries Earth and her species need to regain and maintain health. Perhaps this year’s invitation is to embrace a new pace, a new understanding of productivity, a measure of self-criticality as concerns our Capitalism and consumerism. Perhaps this year’s gevuradik challenge is to embrace stricter self-enforcement of structures and boundaries that might protect Earth.
And as we reflect upon the faces of God, over these seven weeks of glorious Springtime, let’s remember that Earth, herself, is a manifestation of Shechina.