Wednesday, April 12, 2017

With an Open Palm

היום שני ימים בעמר
Today is two days of the omer
גבורה שבחסד
A day of strength in a week of loving kindness

Fifteen years ago, during my second year of the omer practice, I was in the midst of chemotherapy. The treatment was synchronous with the Jewish calendar. My first infusion was on the first of Nissan, the biblical start of the year, and my last was on the 49th day of the omer. It was great to have a path to walk, to mark each day in a way that wasn't tied to my cancer. The intentions took on new meanings when seen through the filter of illness. What I discovered about gevurah - strength, has stayed close to me to this day.

The clenched fist, often raised, is a pervasive symbol of strength. There is tension in that gesture, a tension that forms a base for the power that is portrayed. But that year, I learned that power also emanates from reaching out with an open palm. It takes strength to reach out to ask for help. That strength is magnified when it is met and joined with another's strength in giving.

 ביד חזקה ובזרע נטויה
It was by a mighty hand AND an outstretched arm that we were freed from Egypt, from our narrow place. We reach out our arms and, fingers wide, to clasp the open hands stretched out before us.
The sum of our shared gevurah, our shared strength, is greater than the whole.

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