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In Search Of.........The Better Me - Part 1

Monday, 21 April, 2008 - 9:03 pm

The Omer period is a period for self-betterment (see Torah thought of 4/17). More specifically, it focuses on harnessing and refining our emotions.

To understand our emotions, it’s helpful to first look at our intellect.

My Intellect is obviously an important tool: it enables me to understand. But I can intellectually grasp a concept, and still remain totally untouched by it. Until a topic triggers my emotions at some level, I – in my fullest sense - am not engaged.

My exercise is theoretical and detached from my personal reality.

Until I emote.

So my emotions are where the world touches me, and where I express myself to the world. It’s my bridge and my portal; my interface with the world. 

In this emotional-refinement exercise, the Omer begins by focusing on the emotional expression, the soul-energy, called ‘Chesed’ (in Hebrew).

‘Chesed’ is usually translated as kindness and/or love. But it’s actually a broader sentiment.

Chesed is that inner feeling of affinity with an ‘other’. It might be a friendly interaction at the office, a desire to help someone in need, or the flow of emotion we call love. It’s the pouring forth (in varying degrees) of positive connectivity to other.

This week is a time to observe our ‘Chesed’ flow.

I need to ask myself: When it comes to my Chesed interactions, is it about me? Or do I really care about other?

[There’s a Chassidic story about a child who watches an adult catch, skin, bone and cook a fish. Before his first bite, the adult explains “I love fish”.

To which the child responds: “If you loved the fish, you would have let him stay in the water. You love yourself, and the fish is just another way of you expressing that to yourself”.]

Do I ever observe, and bask in, the beauty of my internal pull toward another?

For example: When I give my child him a loving hug, do I ever stop to recognize the ‘love’ aspect in my embrace?

When I have a Chesed feeling, am I expressing it enough? Do I express it appropriately and respectfully? Do I respect the other person’s space?

Am I committed to this relationship? Am I prepared to pursue what it takes to retain, and accentuate, the beauty of a given relationship?

Love and friendship are extremely powerful components of life. May a week of conscious observation and exercise last us a lifetime.


Have a wonderful Omer week.


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