March 16th, 2010
This 2nd edition Guide for Counting the Omer is designed like Simon Jacobson’s but contains fresh insights into each precious Omer day’s opportunities and challenges.
Here is a sample.
Intro to week of chesed -
Chesed is the willingness and capacity to be present and make contact despite unknowns, anxieties and uncertainties. It moves us closer to someone who needs love, regardless of whether we have coins to give or words to say. It runs deeper than, though it may include, words, flowers, or tzedakkah for the poor. It may manifest as welcoming guests, as Avraham was known to do, but requires more than just a meal.
Chesed is often misunderstood and mistranslated as ‘kindness’ or ‘loving-kindness’. The association extends to the paragon of chesed, Avraham, who is usually thought of as a ‘nice guy’. While this description is not inaccurate, it does not sum up Avraham’s contribution to the world in the context of chesed. In looking at Avraham’s story, we certainly see evidence of his enthusiastic hospitality. But to understand chesed, we must look beyond generosity to core of this gesture of welcoming. The essential ingredient in hospitality, and in much of Avraham’s life, is a willingness to courageously enter into difficult, unknown or uncomfortable situations. His life is full of such moments, from his courageous entrance into the land of Israel to his enthusiastic commitment to the horribly uncomfortable Divine command to make his son into an offering.
The week of chesed, then, is about how to be enthusiastically present in each other’s lives and make meaningful contact despite the temptation to stay in the safe confines of our own lives. What we give is secondary to the fact that we put ourselves in the vulnerable position of presence and caring.