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In our community, character matters. We created a program to help us balance our character traits. Browse our learning materials and strengthen your own character. This should be the basis of every healthy faith community.

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Omer Week 1 - Chesed

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by Adam Millson

“Then you are to count from the morrow after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering, seven complete Shabbatot. Until the morrow after the seventh Shabbat you are to count fifty days, and then present a new grain offering to Adonai.” -- Lev. 23:15-16 (TLV)

We count from the day after Passover to Shavuot, the grain harvest festival also known as Pentecost. During the Omer, Jews count how many days it has been since the beginning of the Omer. Traditionally, you count after nightfall on each day and recite several blessings. Traditions have also risen up to help us use this time to reflect on ourselves and our lives and improve ourselves. One such tradition is the association of a sefirah with each week of the count. The sefirot are the Kabbalistic attributes of G-d, most of which can be reflected in human life. During the Omer, one spends time each day reflecting on an aspect of the sefirah of that week. In the spirit of this tradition, we’ve compiled seven devotionals, one for each week, that reflect on the sefirah of the week through texts from the book of Hebrews. I hope that you enjoy them and draw benefit from them.

Week 1 of the Omer (April 20th-26th): Chesed

“Therefore, since we have a great Kohen Gadol who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua Ben-Elohim, let us hold firmly to our confessed allegiance. For we do not have a kohen gadol who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all the same ways—yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near to the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in time of need.” -- Heb 4:14-16
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds. And do not neglect our own meetings, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another—and all the more so as you see the Day approaching.” -- Heb 10:24-25

Chesed is one of the Hebrew words that are most difficult to translate. “Loving-kindness” or “covenant love” are often used, but they don’t capture the full meaning of the word. For the purposes of this devotional, think of chesed as a deep, abiding but platonic love that cares about every aspect of the loved person.

Yeshua came to consolidate his role as the perfect kohen gadol, one that loves us completely and with full knowledge of us and what we experience but who also has not sinned. His death was a great act of love, but so was his incarnation which was intended to draw us near to him. In imitation of him, we ought to act in love and draw together into communities focused on encouragement and love. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to be righteous without a community, so an essential part of righteousness is being in a community that aims for righteousness. Another essential part is ensuring that you help others in your community to be righteous; simply showing up doesn’t do the trick. Being a loving member of a chesed-displaying community is foundational to the commandments

Think of a few ways that you can embody chesed this week. How can you show those you know love and encouragement? Perhaps you can think of someone who’s been doing a great job that isn’t being told about it, or maybe someone that needs some reassurance and support. For example, our Rebbetzin’s cooking is always amazing but we often eat it without expressing our joy.  Love means to support each other and there is little that is more supportive than to assist each other in growth. If you have someone you can trust, share your reflections with them this year as we count the Omer. If you have someone you might be able to trust, take that step and ask them if they will help keep you accountable. If you don’t feel comfortable with this practice, at least write down your reflections as they occur to you so that you can keep yourself accountable. When you are sharing or writing your chesed actions, pick one and commit to doing it this week.

 

 

 

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