Yesterday, at the invitation of a loved one, I joined a Zoom call with a community and experienced something very new to me. This community studies and practices Kabbalah, the Jewish tradition of mystical interpretation of the Bible.
Right now, this community is practicing the counting of the omer. Week by week, they explore the principles and energies from the Tree of Life, shown on the image above, and they ask themselves, what can we learn from combining these energies? They are…
Gevurah/Judgment (or Severity, more about that in a moment)
This week, the community is exploring Gevurah. In this image, that’s translated as ‘judgment.’ Last night, we used the word, ‘severity.’ Each day, in the counting of the omer, this community explores permutations by combining Gevurah with one of the other energies. Guvurah and Crown, Wisdom, Kindness, Eternity, Kingdom, Foundation, Splendor, and Understanding. What does severity mean when viewed through the lens or energy of these others?
Last night, we considered Gevurah and Yesod — severity and foundation.
How might Gevurah become a foundation?
Our teacher shared that Gevurah is not about punishment. But it is about a firm sense of saying No. When Gevurah is a needed foundation in our lives, we do things like set hard boundaries in our relationships: It’s not okay to be treated wrongfully. Gevurah as a foundation also may look like a commitment to justice. We practice severity — that is, strength — toward injustice.
I appreciated this time very much, and now, it has me thinking about the combination of energies more generally as well. Yesterday afternoon, the Interfaith Round Table gathered leaders together from 12 different faith traditions (also over Zoom, of course). We discussed how our communities are doing during this time of crisis. We shared the gifts and challenges we’re discovering in responding to this time. This was certainly a combining of energies as we shared unique forms of wisdom, struggle, and gratitude. We felt the benefit of being together.
Then, later in the day, I shared with a few people that I was feeling bummed — not overwhelmingly or devastatingly so, but persistently and mildly so. I felt that throughout much of the day. But I ended my day with a phone conversation with one of the people closest to me. During this time, I found myself so grateful for her, even while feeling bummed, and I thought about the strength of this connection in relationship over time. I felt that even while we’re all separated. This experience was a combination — and transformation — of energies.
I’m going to keep thinking about this: What energies do I need to combine?
*I used slightly different transliterations of Hebrew here rather than listing them exactly as they are in the image. This local community spells (or rather, transliterates) a few of these energies differently than what’s in the image.