We’re beginning the third week of the 49-day Counting of the Omer. As I shared earlier, Aish HaTorah, an excellent Orthodox Jewish organization, has organized this counting around 7 important character traits that are part of all humanity.
In preparation for Shavuot, which we will observe on June 8 during and after services, when we received the Torah as a united nation, many people use the Counting of the Omer to improve character traitsand develop their sense of unity as a people of God. I’m interacting with some of Aish’s ideas, adding some comments from ha B’rit Hadashah (the New Covenant) and offering some personal thoughts.
The first week of the 49-day Counting focused on chesed, loving-kindness, and provided 7 easy ways to develop this character trait. The second week of the Counting looks at gevurah, discipline, and offers some easy-to-take steps to develop this character trait a bit better. Now, we enter the third week in which we’re going to explore a very important characteristic—tiferet/compassion.
From Aish—Day 18 ― Netzach of Tiferet: Endurance in Compassion
Is my compassion enduring and consistent? Is it reliable or whimsical? Does it prevail among other forces in my life? Do I have the capacity to be compassionate even when I’m busy with other activities or only when it’s comfortable for me? Am I ready to stand up and fight for another?
From ha B’rit Hadashah (the New Covenant)
Romans 5:3-4 But not only that, let us also boast in our troubles; because we know that trouble produces endurance,
4endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
From me: The dictionary defines “endurance” as “bearing pain, hardship, the ability to continue or last, especially despite
fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina.” There are times when we’re called to be compassionate even when we’re tired, exhausted, and just want a break. Understandable. But, according to Paul, accepting our “troubles” or challenges, produces endurance, character and hope. Remember, we’re seeking to improve our character. Let us think whom we can call for a minute to provide some encouragement through a kind word. The exercise won’t take much time, but might mean a lot to the person we contact. Think about it.
Exercise for the day: In the middle of your busy day take a moment and call someone who needs a compassionate word. Defend someone who is in need of sympathy even if it’s not a popular position.
After sundown tonight we say, “Blessed are you, LORD our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us [set us apart] by his commandments and commanded us to count the omer. Today is Day 18 of the Omer (Counting).