Pesakh is about redemption. It is about the historical emancipation of our ancestors out of Egypt from bondage to freedom. It is also about our personal spiritual emancipation, the liberation of the spirit from bondage. The OmerFrom the second day of Passover until Shavuot, Jews count seven weeks – seven times seven days – to commemorate the period between the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Sinai. When the Temple stood, a certain measure (omer) of barley was offered on the altar each day; today, we merely count out the days., the 49-day period between Pesakh and ShavuotShavuot is the holiday fifty days after Passover and commemorates when the Israelite liberation from Egypt culminates with the giving of the Torah. Traditionally, Jews study in an all-night study session, eat dairy products (one interpretation is that the Torah is like milk to us), and read both the Ten Commandments and the Book of Ruth., is a time of introspection, a time of reflection on our redemption and a time to prepare and open ourselves to receive the TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general.. The ancient Kabbalists envisioned the sefirot(pl of sefirah) In Kabbalah, the 10 “attributes” – channels of Divine energy – via which God interacts with creation., emanations of God’s creation, as energy points on a tree known as the Tree of Life. This is an upside down tree with roots at the top and the branches at the bottom.
This meditation invites you to embark on a journey of reflection and introspection. It invites you to see yourself taking a journey into this Tree of Life. This meditation can be used at the beginning or end of the Omer period to reflect on the Omer in its entirety or it can be used for the process of counting the Omer by focusing on particular sefirot as appropriate. This meditation does go beyond the traditional counting of the Omer with the lower seven sefirot and includes the upper three sefirot as well.
Sit quietly. Relax. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. As you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in waves of healing energy. Feel these waves flow through your entire body like an ocean of healing light. As you exhale, envision any negative energy—any pain, tension, stress, fatigue—being released from your body, carried away on the soft wind of your breath—carried away on the wings of angels. With every breath, feel the narrow places within you opening, expanding, becoming filled with waves of deep relaxation and healing energy. Feel this happening in your feet, your legs, your hips, your hands, your arms, your shoulders. Feel this happening in the core of your body—in your pelvis, your abdomen, your spine, your chest. Feel this happening in you neck, your head, your face.
Envision the kabbalistic Tree of Life above you. See yourself ascending into this tree. You may see yourself as a ray of light, a ball of pure energy, a microscopic version of your physical body, a spiritual essence, or any other form that comes to you. It does not matter what form you take. It is whatever form that comes to you. Now see yourself rising, ascending into the Tree of Life. See yourself journey through the branches, ascending all the way to the root tips. As you journey, you come in contact with the sefirot. Envision these sefirot as bodies of pure light, bodies of divine energy. Note the color of each sefirah. Note whether the sefirot are pulsating, glowing, or shimmering. Not whether the energy envelops you, surrounds you, touches you, or rests beside you like a companion.
On the first part of your journey, you encounter the sefirah of HesedLit. Kindness It is said in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that the world stands on three things: Torah (learning), Avodah (worship), and Gemilut Hasidim (acts of kindness)., lovingkindness. Focus your energies on how you both give and receive lovingkindness in your life. Focus on what lovingkindness means to you. Hesed represents outpouring abundance, nurture, sustenance. Focus on abundance in your life—what it means to you, how you use it. Focus on the meaning of giving, sharing, resourcefulness. Focus on giving and receiving that which is bountiful in your life. Focus on what and who sustains and nurtures you and on how you sustain and nurture others.
Now you journey into the sefirah of Gevurah, justice. Focus your energies on how justice informs your life, on how justly you are treated, how justly you treat others, how justly you treat yourself. Gevurah also means strength. Focus on how you are strong when you need to be, on how you find strength from within and from without when you need to. Focus on the sources of your strength. Focus on how you receive strength from others and how you give strength to others when it is needed. Gevurah is also about boundaries. Focus on boundaries in your life, how essential they are, how they protect you.
Now you journey to the sefirah of Tiferet, beauty. See how beauty fills your life. Envision beauty in the world around you. Envision beauty that comes from within you. Tiferet also means harmony. Envision peace and harmony within you and around you. See how you bring peace and harmony into your life and into the lives of others. Tiferet also means compassion. See how compassion affects your life—the compassion that you give and the compassion that you receive from others. Now envision the Tree of Life imprinted on a human body, on your body. See how Tiferet fills the heart space of your body. Feel how Tiferet fills your heart. Feel how the beauty, harmony, and compassion of Tiferet flow from your heart space to your entire body. See how Tiferet flows from your heart space to the heart spaces of others, to the world around you.
Now you journey to the sefirah of Netzach, endurance. Sense how the quality of endurance informs your life. Envision how endurance and perseverance make a difference to you and to those around you. Netzach also means victory. Focus on the victories you experience in your life. Celebrate these victories. Celebrate how you overcome obstacles to reach victory.
Now you encounter the sefirah of Hod, glory or splendor. Focus on the splendor in the world around you, the beauty of nature. Focus on yourself as a being filled with the splendor of the Divine. See yourself as being created in the divine image. Hod also means humility. See how humility tempers your victories and keeps you balanced.
Now you journey to the sefirah of Yesod, foundation. Focus on the foundations in your life, in your world. What are the building blocks, what are the things that make you what you are and who you are? Yesod also means bonding, relationship. Focus on the relationships in your life. See how you interact with others. Envision how you form relationships and how these relationships are sustained, nurtured, and maintained. Yesod also means generativity and creativity. Focus on how you generate and regenerate your energy in the four worlds of KabbalahThe tradition of Jewish mystical interpretation of sacred texts. The foundational kabbalistic text is the Zohar.: Asiyah, the physical; Briyah, the intellectual; Yetzirah, the emotional; and Atzilut, the spiritual. Focus on what is creative in your life, on how and what you create. Focus on creativity in others. Focus on the meaning of Creation, on how everything came to be.
Now you encounter the sefirah of Malchut, the Kingdom. Malchut represents majesty. Focus on what is majestic in our world, in your world. See how you are a majestic being. Malchut represents the place where we dwell. Focus on the places where you dwell, what they mean to you—in the physical world and in the non-physical world. Now see yourself as a dwelling place for the Divine, a vessel of holiness. It has been said that Malchut is the sefirah of the ShekhinahThe feminine name of God, expounded upon in the rabbinic era and then by the Kabbalists in extensive literature on the feminine attributes of the divine.. Envision the Shekhinah above you. See how the Shekhinah guides your life. See how the Shekhinah is always there for you, celebrating your victories, sharing your joy, supporting you and sustaining you through good times and bad. See the energy of the Shekhinah flowing through you. See this energy flowing through all the sefirot.
As you continue to ascend into the Tree of Life, you encounter the sefirah of Binah, understanding. Focus on the quality of Binah in your life. Focus on the understanding that you give to others and the understanding that you receive from them. Binah represents comprehension, discernment. Focus on your powers of discernment and how you use these powers in the world.
Now you enter the sefirah of Hochmah, wisdom. Focus on your knowledge, the knowledge acquired from the world around you, and on your inner knowledge. Focus on how this knowledge evolves to become wisdom. Hochmah is sometimes envisioned as a woman, Lady Wisdom, or Sophia. See how Lady Wisdom informs your life, and guides your actions in the world. Focus on your knowledge and your experiences, on how they make you wise. Focus on how you use your wisdom in the world, to guide you and your actions and to help and guide others.
You journey upward reaching the roots of the Tree. As you reach the uppermost sefirah, Keter, the Crown, see a crown of light surrounding you, encircling you, filling you with the light of the Divine. Know yourself to be one with the Holy One. Know that holiness is within you. Know that you are a vessel of holiness. Know that all the qualities of the Tree of Life exist within you. Know that you can journey to the Tree of Life anytime you need to.
Hold on to these images as you now become aware once more of your breath and of the boundaries of your body. As you take a few deep breaths, become aware of the gentle rise and fall of your chest. Become aware once more of your physical presence. Then—whenever you are ready—slowly, gently—open your eyes.
Image by artist Susan Richards.