As part of our #TorahForTheResistance series by young scholars and students of Judaism and rabbinics, we offer this Counting the Omer for activists. Read more about using the Omer for activists, see previous weeks’ questions, and find below this week’s reflections designed specifically activists.
About the Omer
Between Passover and Shavuot, our tradition offers us a practice called the Counting the Omer, or Sefirat Ha’Omer. The Jewish mystical tradition has imbued this time with deeper spiritual meaning by creating a system of ‘counting’ that can help us experience different aspects of the Divine. These aspects are represented by the Kabbalistic system of sefirot, a structure representing the ten emanations through which God is revealed to us.
As activists, Sefirat Ha’Omer is a spiritual opportunity to engage with this fundamental political tension: What is the world that we want to see? Where do we encounter that world and what work is to be done?
Week Six: Yesod/Foundation (May 16th-22nd)
Then we engage with the divine aspect of Yesod. Yesod is multivalent. One way to understand Yesod is “foundation”. This week is an opportunity to ask yourself foundational questions: what drives me to do the justice work that I do? What’s at stake for me? In various diagrams of the sephirot, Yesod as also stands between Malkhut (the world as it is) and Tiferet (glory and beauty). Change comes from doing foundational work, like movement building, and engaging the world as it is, which is the rough ground upon which we need to build a foundation. We can ask ourselves: how can I dig more deeply or effectively into the foundation-building work that will enable us to have deep, lasting change?
Being connected to the other sephirot also gives us the opportunity to engage win the realm of interconnectivity. How do you stand in relation to the whole project of creation, humanity, society, political life? Where are you specifically in that constellation, and what does that mean for you, what and who does that make you responsible for?
Yesod also means generativity and creativity — how can I bring an energy of generativity and creativity to my activism? How can my creative or artistic work be in the service of ending oppression?
Finally, Yesod is also associated with the Tzaddik, the Chassidic righteous leader. This is an opportunity to ask: how can I live out the values I am fighting for? How can I orient my work, even systemic change work, to be in service of human beings? How can I take care of those I care deeply about?