Day #31 of the Omer Counting: Surrendering to a Life of Compassion

Today is the 31st day of the Omer, and the rabbis invite us to focus our spiritual reflection on the ways we can integrate the following two Divine sefirot/attributes in our selves and in our world: Hod (humility/gratitude/surrender) with Tifereth (compassion/beauty/balance).

In what ways do we extend grace and compassion to others in such a way that we can create a sense of balance in a world that lacks it? Central to our ability to integrate these two qualities is the need to assume positive intent. Most of the problems in our human interactions: our (mis)communications and our (false) assumptions, our hurt and our missed opportunities, what we believe to be true.

What we believe to be true comes from the stories we tell ourselves and the assumptions we make are generally based upon societal expectations and previous experience- neither of which are based in accurate fact, nor are they beliefs that will lead us to a better future. What we believe to be true is often the result of trauma and bias.

For those of us who come from particularly unhealthy pasts, it can be helpful to examine our assumptions, and work on cultivating the exact opposite of our instincts, until we can rewire our brain, based upon new experiences that will be different than the ones that we have known. The only way to get somewhere new is to try something new.

Part of the surrender and humility of “hod” (the spiritual principle we are trying to cultivate) is to surrender our assumptions about ourselves and others. It is scary to live in a world where we don’t understand others and can’t make sense of what they do… but it is even MORE scary to live in a world that is as negative as many of us tell ourselves that it is.

It can feel awkward to let go of coping mechanisms that we believe keep us safe. Part of the process of this thorough moral and spiritual inventory of ourselves that we are asked to do between Passover and Omer, is to reexamine how constructive and helpful these beliefs have been, and to do what we can to heal ourselves and work for a better future for us all.

May today help us to cultivate the practice of assuming positive intent. When we hear or experience someone who is doing or saying something hurtful, let’s try to simply ask: “the version of the story I am telling myself a out X is Y. Is this correct?”

When we don’t know and can’t ask, let’s try to infuse our thoughts with love and compassion. Let’s surrender our assumptions that others are (insert hurtful label here), and remember that we are all trying our best just to get by.

We are all struggling in a world filled with violence and cruelty. We all need compassion. May today help us to err on the side of compassion whenever there is pain. May the decisions that we make lead us to the world we wish to live in, as opposed to replicating the ones we have known.