Friday, April 23, 2010

Sefirat Omer- Week 4

Endurance is an interesting word. When I think of endurance, I think of running. I remember back in fifth grade. We would all run the mile. Four laps around the track. As the race began, about fifteen of the kids went in knowing they would not do a good time. Endurance handles drive and determination. Sprinting the first lap tired them out for the rest of the mile. I think of passing by slow runners when I hear the word endurance.

Is life a race? We are born and we pace ourselves, but there is no sprint at the end. A marathon? Where is the training season for life? Life is like eating fruits and vegetables. It takes determination sometimes. To endure in a healthy life, we love the healthy life. Loving what we do is half the battle, doing it a quarter, and the last quarter is effort.

Effort comes from discipline. Where do our efforts lie? We should benefit the good not the evil. Think of others before ourselves. Determination can come in many forms. The form of waking up in the morning when we feel down. The form of going out for a run when we see potato chips. Discipline focuses endurance.

Yesterday, we focused our endurance. Today we take that focus and put it into action. Caring for a friend takes love for the friend. Compassion for a homeless man on the streets on the Bronx takes endurance. At my cousins Bat Mitzvah, we worked at a homeless shelter. The man in charge of organizing the shelter told us to remember something as we were cleaning up and leaving. Too many times we see homeless people on the street and we look away. He said to just give them a little wave. Have the determination to avoid treating them like the other. 20th Century Jews were treat like the other. That got us nowhere.

The Holocaust was an awful test of humanity. Endurance was the key component. Having the endurance to live when the country around us wants us dead. Hope is a dwindling feeling as hate emerges. As Jews were wared down, a love of endurance may have been lost. Discipline and compassion were gone too. Enduring endurance kept the few, remaining Jews of Europe alive.

Fortitude comes from within us. God gave each one of us determination, yet we all express it in our shape and manner. The unique views come from one's ability to look out at the world. Humility lets us decide where to take a stand. If something makes us upset, we should not let it roll by us. People I know are over dramatic about the unnecessary. In real times of trouble, they are untouched. Humility lacks in their determination.

Bonding with endurance should keep us sticking to our goals. President Obama decided he wanted to be President. He went to law school, studied hard, became a senator, held a good campaign, and now he is in the White House. At law school, homework may have been piled on Barack. Bonding with the dream of being president prevailed him.

As our week ends once more, we examine the dignity of our endurance. Do our goals put in a brighter path for the person we want to be? Am we where we want to be at our age? If we are not, we can think of it this way. A dreamer is always asleep dreaming pleasantly. A go-getter follows the dream they like. I would personally rather be awake than in a permanent sleep.

Four weeks down, three to go. More than half the human heart has already been explored. As of now we have the endurance to handle the rest!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sefirat Omer- Week 3

Of all seven qualities that overlap each other during the Omer, compassion means the most to me. Last week, I talked about how I have written a list of goals. One of those goals was to be considered a nice, caring person. I phrased it this way for a certain reason. I can try to be a nice person, but my nice does not matter. People around me could think my nice, is devious. Compassion is simply not about ourself, but about everyone around us.

To be compassionate, we must love it. A love of compassion is a commandment in the Torah. We are supposed to welcome the stranger into our dwelling. Compassion is never forced on us. The good do good and the wicked remain wicked. Never do a good deed without a love and care. No completion is better than a sloppy completion.

Compassion is everywhere. Holding a door open and saying thank you take compassion. These simple tasks are great, but compassion should be bigger. Fundraising or donating take discipline. The money belongs to the donor. A bit of discipline helps cure the cause.

Compassion of compassion. The quality goes forever. Exceeding new limits. Discipline focuses compassion, but never stops us from expressing it. I attempt to live an everlasting compassionate life. Holding a door yesterday does not benefit anyone today.

Prevailing compassion means anywhere at anytime. My schedule is simple. On Tuesday, I always have Hebrew School. On Thursdays, there are drums lessons. Where does it say, "Be compassionate"? Never do we plan to take a stand. Are we ready to stand up for ourselves and others?

Humility is not always ripping your pants embarrassing. Humility lets us realize that a selfish reign always comes to an end. I feel sometimes we are only compassionate for ourselves. How horrible? Middle school is the perfect example. I see people who are kind and nice, but only when the cameras are rolling. Giving compassion should help the receiver. The giver does it out of the goodness of their humble heart.

Bonding is an important asset of compassion. Although the internet has made this a less significant aspect, kindness is never distant. Holding a door for a stranger can not be done six feet away. For instance, Holocaust victims in concentration camps had every disease imaginable. They stuck together! No one person was better than they other. A bond was formed.

Day seven is always the hardest to write about the Omer. Dignity and humility are opposite. Compassion is meant to make us feel good too. As long as we remember, why we LOVE to be humane. Did you know most bullies have low-self esteem? Their wicked deeds are a slight boost. Dignity really comes from compassion.

I worry today, where compassion has gone? Every day on the news we hear about Iraq and Afghanistan. 9/11 lowered our self-esteem. Instead of making an effort of peace, we bullied these countries. 99% of teenage boys play video games. ( How many play the ones with guns? The "compassion suckers". Violence is something that is common in our world. Compassion is not.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Sefirat Omer- Week 2

What is the purpose of counting 49 days? Why does God even tell us to do this in the Torah? Passover is a time when we commemorate the liberating of our people. Shavuot we celebrate God giving us the Torah and the Ten Commandments. The Omer is seven weeks of self-evaluation.

Unlike Yom Kippur, we are not atoning the sins we have committed. Instead, we look at our moral character and how it compares to the image God had in mind for humans. Each day is a moral fiber. The qualities form a decent being. During the second week, we discover discipline.

On day one, we discover the love of discipline. Now as I said last week, the same seven traits collaborate to make 49 combinations. What is the difference between discipline of love and love of discipline? Discipline of love focuses on how we stay loyal in any relationship. Love of discipline does not necessarily mean in a relationship. God gave us 613 mitzvot to respect in the Torah. Loving discipline is determination to follow them.

Next, we observe the discipline aspect of discipline. Life is not all work. After all, not even God worked a full week. Discipline should be orderly. God created us to be people, not robots. Too much discipline turns us into robotic scraps of humans. Too little discipline turns us into pigs. Although robots are worse than pigs, neither is kosher.

Discipline takes compassion. For example, a teacher needs to be strict, but compassionate. I once had a teacher who no one really liked when they had her. The next year I realized she may have been strict, but she really cared about the students and their education. It is easy to make a batch of cookies, but they are worthless if they are not sweet.

Today we observe how enduring discipline should be. About a year and a half ago, I set a list of goals. Though the path has been tough, I have kept up with those goals and continue in the direction of fulfillment of them. Athletics, academics, music, art,drama or anything else in life really takes practice. Practice comes from enduring discipline.

Too many times in life we make assumptions. Assumptions come from a large amount of discipline and a subordinate amount of humility. Sometimes we put our bad traits into another's personality. For instance, a person calls another a gossiper. The whole student body hears the accusation. The person who started the rumor was the true gossiper. Humility is a major aspect of processing productive discipline.

After that, we take the extra step to bond with others. We try to shed our discipline onto others. Being a student I understand that discipline includes honesty. When testing, the temptation to cheat is always available, but my discipline sets an example. Hopefully, potential cheaters follow the right path.

On our last day focusing on discipline, we explore the dignity it takes to have the trait. We examine how our spirit is weakened by discipline. Do we loose our childlike wonder? I feel that greed is the perfect example. Greed can destroy a person. We aim with our enduring discipline to be rich, but despite our perseverance we loose respect for others. Our dignity is destroyed and on the road another's usually is too.

In fact, the entire Omer takes discipline to count.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sefirat Omer- Week 1

I hope that everyone is enjoying Passover and the beginning of springtime. Did you know that today is a special day in Judaism? And tomorrow is too? Actually the next 42 days are quite significant. There are exactly 49 days between Passover and Shavuot. These 49 days are called Sefirat Ha'omer or Counting of the Omer.

The Torah commands us to the count the Omer. The Omer is just a measurement. It is like a quart or a gallon. Rabbis have interpreted that each week is an attribute of the human heart. There is love, discipline, compassion, endurance, humility, bonding, and leadership. All the topics intertwine each day. Week 1 is all about love. Week 1 Day 1 is "Love; love. Week 1 Day 2 is "Love Discipline". It goes on each day. Week 1 is now coming to a close. By the conclusion of the Omer, the 49 aspects form into one heart.

Starting on Tuesday night, the heart is supposed to realize humans love to love. Our hearts hold the capacity to love as much as we want. There is no quota on the number of people to be friendly and loving to. Every person has their own story. By loving, the stories become a library.

Love then requires discipline. Respect is the basis of a healthy relationship. Knowing boundaries is a way of showing respect. Scandals of ignorance to the second day of the Omer are released constantly. For example, a certain golfer lacked discipline of love. Without discipline there is no love.

An average relationship has two friendly people put together. An extraordinary relationship has two COMPASSIONATE people put together. Love's roots are buried in compassion. To think of a loved one over ourselves is truly a mitzvah.

Love is enduring. We can all love to love, have discipline of love, and be compassionate for love, but to constantly love is a different story. Two friends are together. One is starving. Since they are by the stream, one friend catches a fish for the other friend. Tomorrow that friend will return to a starving state. An enduring love would teach the other how to fish. Love should never be turned on and off like a light switch.

When in love, we are confident. We feel like we are on top of the world. Unfortunately, confidence is the key to arrogance. To stop the path towards arrogance, we remember our humility. No one person in a relationship is always right. Being humble allows us to see that compromise is possible.

Of course, love requires bonding. Never rush into a relationship. Friendship is always the first step. Enjoy getting to know the person. On this day of the Omer, we try to find a new thing we can bond over to strengthen our love.

Finally, dignity. It is obvious a relationship needs two people. Two people can sometimes form into one person. Leaders stand their ground. Although, we are humble, we are strong. When something is wrong, we change it. Figure out what your contribution to the relationship is. True love requires dignity. Actually, true love require all of these qualities.