COUNTING UP TO UNITY:
Sonnets for the counting of the Omer
The 49 days between Pesach and Shavuot are a time for introspection and reflection. In some communities it is customary to study Pirkei Avot on Shabbat afternoon during this period. Another practice is meditation based on the permutations of the lower seven Sefirot, which are related to human character. Each of the seven weeks is associated with one Sefirah, and then each day in the week is assigned a Sefirah, so that there are forty-nine combinations.
In 5765, after writing sonnets for many years, it occurred to me to write a sonnet for each day of the Counting of the Omer, as way of reflecting during this period. The sonnet is a form that has often been used as an aid to introspection a “balance sheet for soul’s accounts,” as I put it in a sonnet some years ago. For me this 14-line form has a profound resonance. Possibly it is no coincidence that the number 14 (as Rav Yitzchak Ginsburgh points out in his book The Hebrew Letters) “equals דוד, the progenitor of the eternal Kingdom of Israel” – and, incidentally, the author of Tehillim! Also, the fourteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is נ – equivalent to 50. And I note also that the digits of 248 and 365 each add up to 14!
This sequence was written in the thought of how we may yet (a line from a song
called "Earthlight" comes back to me) "be all we need to be to
turn the tide." It is a poet's meditation, drawing on many and varied
sources read in the light of the poet's personal sensing of the general situation.
Between last year and this, I had hoped to consult with those more knowledgeable
and to revise the work in time for this year, but was, regretfully, prevented
by other preoccupations. So it is offered here with only a few changes,
very tentatively, in the hope that it may be meaningful to others who are making
the Omer journey. Suggestions for improvement (email@example.com)
will be most welcome!
Note: the sonnet for each day should not be read aloud until the Omer has actually been counted according to the formula in the prayerbook!
May Ha-Shem grant us passage through all the gates of understanding this year.
(Love within Love)
As one who finds white pebbles on the ground
Marking a trail that cannot be mistaken,
So from the second Pesach day we’re bound
To count the Omer up to the great waking
Of Shavuot. Egypt, which we escaped,
Is in us yet. Through forty-nine degrees
Of dark we had descended, almost slept
Across the fiftieth that yawned to seize
Our souls forever. At that dreadful sill
Only love within love could reach a hand
To hold, to draw us back. G-d loves, G-d still
Loves us, and we are bound to understand.
The stairs are steep. We’ll take them one by one.
In the Counting of the Omer, this is day one.
(Rigor within Love)
From the abundant unadulterate flow
Of love supernal that has found us here,
We draw the courage and the strength to know
Our own condition, and to rightly fear
That force to which we almost had succumbed,
Its threats masked with enticements, bells that warned
Muffled, the nerves of smell and taste benumbed,
Conscience itself distorted and suborned.
We fear, yet hold it in a fierce disdain,
Aware, now, that the worst that it could do
Would be to obscure our origin, to stain
The inner eye’s window that must let through
The beam that must come through to show a way.
And thus we mark the Omer’s second day.
(Beauty/Balance/Compassion within Love)
That shining-forth from origin and goal
Throws an unsparing light upon the world,
Finds on each fruit the worm’s distasteful hole,
And shows at every root the dragon curled.
What clogs are hung on every foot that sought
To start forthwith upon the upward road,
Till, faint between the fires of Is and Ought,
The heart sinks, wounded by what meant to goad!
But then – from where? -- appears a principle
Of balance and compassion that sustains –
From whence in heaven or earth sprang Miriam’s well? –
And helps us straddle contradiction’s strains
With grace: be patient, and yet undeterred.
Thus of the Omer’s days we count the third.
(Victory/Eternity/Endurance within Love)
Each person, poised within one’s own constraints
Yet conscious of the great good all around
Listens, between the praises and the plaints
The timebound soul must utter, for the sound
That has no pitch nor volume, yet commands
Attention and assent; while in the gaze
That sweeps the mundane vista as the hand’s
Confederate, there is reserved a space
For what cannot be sighted, yet is shown
To the sole gaze, and yet addressed to all,
Burns unmistakable although unknown
As answer to the still-unuttered call.
The Eternal holds us fast and sends us forth –
Holding that thought, we count the Omer’s fourth.
(Acknowledgment/Resonance/Splendor within Love)
The light that for one moment shone apart
Remains as an indelible apparition
In the mind’s background, and becomes a part
Of all that shows itself to daily vision.
As variations on the theme of grace
The hosts of shapes and fashions then appear;
Among them with awakening sense we trace
Patterns articulating far and near.
Vast is the calculus of those relations
That make for mind’s small presence here and now;
Which seeing, mind unlearns the small impatience
That keeps it from the gain its gifts allow.
The paths of G-d’s beneficence it counts
As now to five the Omer’s tally mounts.
(Foundation/Tzaddik within Love)
Against the background of the One-In-All
Each self seems to itself a several I
To which all else that is, is marginal.
It knows it lives, and hears that it must die,
It oversees a limited domain
By the five ranges of its sense defined;
But brain and hand allow it to obtain
Sway over further realms where it is blind.
It can expand itself until it darken
The sun, and make the earth a desert place,
Yet live in poverty until it hearken
To Love telling of self with other face
And view itself Among, in vision’s glass.
In these thoughts the sixth Omer-day we’ll pass.
(Sovereignty/Community within Love)
Those who have lost, those who have found their being
In the view of congregation and creation
Have left behind self-seeking; and this freeing
Prepares them for the great gift of cessation,
The day the sovereignty of the All-Present,
Veiled by our anxious cares, is manifest.
Well may we keep that day and call it pleasant,
The mind enjoying, while the hands have rest,
The vast perspectives of G-d’s work of art,
All time and space, beheld from end to end,
Play in which every creature has a part,
By stillness at its very heart sustained,
Upheld by vision, though time’s race be blind.
So the Omer’s seventh day, one week, we mind.
(Love within Rigor)
Severity of judgment, and of law;
The order of this world, cause upon cause;
External pressure, and internal flaw –
All these, each morning, give the spirit pause.
Yet we are told to bind the seal and shield
Of G-d’s protecting love on head and arm,
That we may feel, upon life’s battlefield,
Round us a field of force, repelling harm.
To One whose law is love we are betrothed;
If we remember this and can perceive
The mercy that in rigor must be clothed,
Then from the source of strength we shall receive
Strength that will get us through our days. We say
This is the Omer’s eighth: one week, one day.
(Rigor within Rigor)
There is that gray street in a foreign town
To which some dream returns us, year by year,
The same old road we keep on walking down
But with no notion of what brought us here.
The same decree that comes with every post
We read in every face, in every scene,
Its letters seeming clear, yet we can’t boast
We’ve managed to decipher what they mean.
And yet they mean. On that street is a door
Opening on halls we follow patiently
Till in some office off some corridor
We find the person in authority
Who’ll tell us what we’ve done, what we must do.
This is the Omer’s ninth – week one, day two.
(Beauty/Balance/Compassion within Rigor)
The paths of growth are many, and each one
Lures mind and spirit to come work and play
In novel fields, accept occasion
For new development and fresh display
Of branching gifts. Until luxuriance
Begins to overtap the central power
That bears diversity, so that it scants
The fruit whose sap was spent in leaf and flower.
Then someone has to take the heavy shears
And, with the implicit shape in mind, decide
Which fronds must fall to make that shape show clear,
Divested of redundance, and to guide
The sap toward fairest harvest. So we see
The Omer’s tenth – one seven-night, plus three.
(Eternity/Victory/Endurance within Rigor)
Since we are part of the great combination
Of nature, and society’s design,
We sense the future, like the faint vibration
Of a train coming, far off down the line.
We hear, and make ourselves not hear; we see
And keep ourselves from seeing, well aware
Our strength could not endure it; why should we
Too soon confront what we’re not built to bear?
But if through the mesh of time we have descried
The Eternal, then we know that solid fate
Is made of riddles, and that still-untried
Solutions somewhere in the matrix wait
For those who resolutely reach. We score
The eleventh Omer-day: one week, and four.
(Splendor/Resonance/Acknowledgment within Rigor)
The soul desirous of the simple light
Is daunted by the detail of the plan,
The thousand things that must be done aright,
And understood, so far as humans can,
Till the Yetser whispers wonder at such ways
That lead in circles far from the Most High –
“Is service, then, the walking of a maze?”
But to these thoughts we hear the soft reply
That this too is simplicity: to dread
Mistake, misprision, not to give G-d’s quest
Less skill than the incessant search for bread.
Praying that in this thought our service thrive,
We count the Omer’s twelfth: one day and five.
(Foundation/The Just within Rigor)
In whatsoever circumstance the Unseen
Counsel has placed us, there we have to stand,
Accepting this, whether or not the scene
Would have been of our choosing, as command
And widening our hearts to find it good,
Knowing the One who sent us meant it so:
Perhaps to gather strength from pain withstood
And make an inner friend of outward foe
Would be a greater boon that our desire
Could reach. And we are bidden not to slight
What sense can of itself approve, admire,
The pleasures interwoven with our plight,
The signs of something in our power to fix.
‘Tis the thirteenth Omer-day: one week and six.
(Sovereignty/Community within Rigor)
The great wheel of the Zodiac, the winds
Made as Earth spins within its atmosphere,
Trade winds, commercial currents, fashion trends,
And companies and governments that steer
Toward well or ill: the ever-whirling storm
Known as the world, where providence goes veiled
While outside forces cast off every norm,
This exile where most things to might are scaled,
Yet holds for every person some domain
Wherein that one can rule, so to evince
The lowliness of the true sovereign,
The justice of the heaven-counseled prince,
And show the world the order that it seeks.
The Omer’s count is fourteen: two full weeks.
(Love within Beauty/Balance/Compassion)
Between the fiery primal density
And the cold waste of dissipated time
Our cosmos nourishes diversity,
Offers life-forms a frame in which to climb
And dive and fly and burrow and extend
With limb and seed and tendril, variously
Employed and fashioned, and yet all contained
Within a balance that incessantly
Restores itself, even as each living thing
Is by some inner beauty trued and healed,
The seal of Being’s author, mirroring
Affection multifariously detailed.
Considering this, let my soul count with praise
Two Omer-weeks and one day: fifteen days.
(Rigor within Beauty/Balance/Compassion)
Of Truth’s resplendent beauty, of the fair
Proportions of the world that Truth would make,
Some more insistently are made aware
Than those who still must struggle to awake
From deepest bondage, climbing rung by rung
On stairs still dimly lit. They slip, no wonder.
But those to whom the Heavenly Muse has sung,
Who have heard the sweet refrain behind the thunder –
Woe to them, should their actions draw askew
The portrait they have seen, or sing off-key
The tune that they were taught. For if these few
Should fail, how should the others hear or see?
The sixteenth day we count, in the awe of beauty,
Two weeks and two days of the Omer’s duty.
(Beauty/Balance/Compassion within Beauty/Balance/Compassion)
The struggle to be true in every line,
In every word, in every pause for breath,
The path you traveled, that your steps laid down
Stone after stone across the gulf of death,
The mother-house, to which, through years, through ages
Of exiled wandering, you kept the key;
The door that silently swings open, in your pages,
To that dreamt space where you appear as he
Who held the lightning, bore the Northern Lights
And with compassion sees the one who hears;
The gift of light-seed planted, of insights
That grow, a joyful harvest sown in tears:
These things I will remember faithfully
On the Omer’s seventeeth – two weeks and three.
(Victory/Endurance/Eternity within Beauty/Balance/Compassion)
The limbs and organs of this mortal frame,
The senses’ gateways five, the fears of flesh
And its desires, this thing whose very name
Is earthen, this motif within the mesh
Of matter, that will ravel in time’s fray –
This the Eternal, Ineffaceable
(Though hidden, like the stars in this world’s day)
Takes for a metaphor and vehicle
And confidant and co-executor,
Entrusting us with counsel and design
And fellow-creatures’ fates. We answer for
Earth’s cargo, and the closing of time’s line
In the great circle of G-d’s endless praise
On the Omer’s eighteenth – two weeks and four days.
(Resonance/Acknowledgment/Splendor within Beauty/Balance/Compassion)
All acts we are enjoined by high command
That evermore goes on reverberating
From Sinai, where our souls once stood and stand,
And through relays of sages, calibrating
Itself to outward changes and new lights
Shown to the vigil of the inward gaze,
Grant we may do, meeting eternal Might’s
Imperative with gladness all our days,
Each motion and each moment of repose
Imbued with sense of every Where and When
As of a point within the thought that Knows
The whole and all the stresses that maintain
Its equipoise. This boon may we derive
From the Omer’s nineteenth day – two weeks and five.
(The Just/Foundation within Beauty/Balance/Compassion)
The practice of attention and of prayer,
The study of those volumes that contain
The secrets of Creation, may confer
The power to make over, to unchain
The spark of holy fire that animates
Each creature, and reharness it to serve
What purposes the adept contemplates:
But if, in so employing them, he swerve
From his own service to the highest Will
That made all these and orders their array,
Their interplay beyond all human skill,
It is not just. Knowing all this, to play
One’s own part well, is what the just most seeks
On the Omer’s twentieth day – six days, two weeks.
(Sovereignty/Community within Beauty/Balance/Compassion)
Upon the arras endlessly rewoven,
Material mirror of the One unseen,
Appears that which we recognize, with cloven
Heart, as the one we have become and been:
A product of relations, like the rest,
Determined on its own identity,
Responsive to attractions and to threats,
And meeting obstacles with strategy.
This comes toward you and wants to pin you down
As toward your trials with the world you fare,
Yet it is this alone, subdued, can crown
You with the name of blessing you will wear
As envoy of the royal peace. This makes
Twenty one days of the Omer – three full weeks.
(Love within Victory/Eternity/Endurance)
Day after day, month after month, and year
Succeeding year, our odysseys have rolled,
Drawn by life’s engine constantly in gear,
Along the tracks that could have been foretold.
But then there came a moment when the light
Altered around us, and some object shone,
Or some form came in visions of the night,
And we were outside all that we had known.
And we become that hour’s interpreter,
Struggling to bear (though mind cannot contain)
The message of its Shalt to what we were,
Trusting one day to see it still more plain
And speak it clearer. Now Omer’s run
To its twenty-second day – three weeks and one.
(Rigor within Eternity/Victory/Endurance)
Once we have apprehended heaven’s desire,
Have seen the eternal forms for which we must
Find in this action-world some fit attire
So that, in clothing them, this earthly dust
May grow transparent to the world beyond,
On us is labor laid now, to devise,
Invent, adapt, test and refine: to sound
The limits of our own capacities
Until we have become a channel clear,
A fine-tuned instrument that can relay
A tone to open earthly eye and ear
And wake the heroic forms that sleep in clay.
We count, with thoughts of all that is to do,
The Omer’s twenty-third – three weeks and two.
(Beauty/balance/compassion within Eternity/victory/endurance)
The high command we heard – the humble means
We have at our command to give it presence
And steady stance amid earth’s turbulent scenes –
Call from our being, as the resonance
Of a string tautly stretched and fingered, this
Pattern of ritual. Or the way the shape-
Less shape of water will not let us miss,
Lest without quenching thirst it should escape,
The cup’s containing hollow; or the way
The word in syntax must articulate
Itself as it exerts itself to say
The tale of union to the disparate.
We count, lifting this cup of eternity,
Twenty-four Omer-days – three weeks and three
(Eternity/Victory/Endurance within Eternity/Victory/Endurance)
Always to seek, upon the busy ground,
The crowded canvas of the world’s concerns,
The wide tracts of prescription, and the round
Of ritual and habit which one learns,
That single point about which all revolves,
From which all flows in endless permutations,
Source of the light that quickens, yet dissolves
Mistaken roads and wry configurations,
The Constant of the Universe, the bare
Initial of commandment that contained
Its realms of derivation everywhere
Outspread and by its energy sustained
Through time and times. A center-day we score –
The Omer’s twenty-fifth – three weeks and four.
(Acknowledgment/Splendor/Resonance within Eternity/Victory/Endurance)
Not to the sign alone, nor to the field
Of meaning it unfolds before the mind,
But to the tune, to which reflection yields,
As, to the motion of his beast resigned,
The traveler reposes on his way,
Is vision’s perpetuity entrusted,
To moving sounds that mime the interplay
Of high and low, the spirit’s rush adjusted
To the slow pace and pulse of this machine
That with the spirit’s burden plods along,
Holding within its bones the primal scene
Of revelation coded in old song.
Accompanied by such thoughts, we see arrive
The Omer’s twenty-sixth – three weeks and five.
(The Just/Righteousness within Eternity/Victory/Endurance)
Not solely as an isolate light of soul
Wandering a waste of mere material beings
Whose fortunes without destiny unroll
Amid a silence where no spirit sings
Should the just man regard himself, but rather
Should walk as one who knows that all around
Lie holy sparks waiting for him to gather,
To recognize, as sharer in the bond
Of G-d’s creation, every being shown
To him upon his path. For from such sense
Of friendship in all things, a strength is sown
Into the soul, of higher radiance
Even than thought. The Omer’s count we raise
To twenty-seven – three weeks and two days.
(Sovereignty/Community within Eternity/Victory/Endurance)
All objects that are made for need of rite,
To give the heavenly court an earthly state,
To house the scroll, ensconce the Sabbath light,
To wash the serving hands early and late,
To cover, till its blessing come, the bread,
To sign with reverence each gate and door,
To crown, and shield from haughtiness, the head,
Or to enfold the shoulders bowed in prayer:
We pray, as for the dignity of being,
That all these things be fashioned with intent
By hands memorious of that first seeing
And of G-d’s constant self-renewed event
In work that is fit service. Now one speaks
The Omer’s twenty-eighth day – four full weeks.
(Love within Resonance/Acknowledgment/Splendor)
The native impulse of the soul alone
Does not suffice to bring forth charity,
Though the soul’s inner deep has always known
How all our roots are twined in unity;
Nor are they humble who acclaim the high
Source of all motes of self that gleam as dust,
Yet view their neighbors with a narrow eye,
Giving them less than in heaven’s eye is just.
But by the gracious opening of the hand
And tending of a hospitable fire
In a heart that not at will but by command
Holds love, are the true subjects of the empire
Of heaven known. The Omer’s count has run
To twenty-nine days – four full weeks and one.
(Rigor within Resonance/Acknowledgment/Splendor)
Since love’s immediacy is intermittent
And since forever’s fire at times recedes,
The soul subsists, then, on its own commitment,
A gleam, an echo of a call, that leads
The mind on fine-branched paths of consequence.
A light, not blinding and yet not too dim
For things to show distinct -- a sound the sense
Picks up, not deafening, yet by no whim
To be mistaken -- cuts out the consigne
For us, checklist in hand, to execute,
And lines the nerves, wherever wrong is seen,
With the subtle steel that renders resolute
The heart that G-d has gentled. So we view
The Omer’s thirtieth day – four weeks and two.
(Beauty/Balance/Compassion within Resonance/Acknowledgment/Splendor)
Not only by the apprehensive powers
Of soul that sees through to the constant light
And its fidelity that at all hours
Studies the world to trace its ways aright,
Is the true course best held, but with the aid
Of someone in whose bearing and each act
The balance of our nature is portrayed,
To whom terrain and currents of this tract
Are, as one’s own palm, known. Through this one’s lenses
We see, or, if not seeing, we rely
On farther sight of one our deepest sense’s
Signal authenticates, to clarify
Where still our humor’s turbid. So we see
The Omer’s thirty-first – four weeks and three.
(Eternity/Victory/Endurance within Resonance/Acknowledgment/Splendor)
Those who bow down before G-d’s mountain height,
Though but in mere of mortal mind reflected,
Not readily are awed by human might,
Nor easily from any course deflected
Which that authority they recognize
Prescribed for them. They are not made to see
The threadless tissues swaggering thieves devise
As jeweled and purpled robes of majesty.
They do not fear the loss of their position,
Knowing they have none, save in G-d’s household;
The hyping pipes of popular perdition,
Promising pseudo-power, leave them cold,
Cannot distract them from their sacred chore
On the Omer’s thirty-second – four weeks and four.
33. HOD SHEBEHOD
(Acknowledgment/Resonance/Splendor within Acknowledgment/Resonance/Splendor)
This is the day when we must know we know
How vast G-d is beyond our small designs,
How high the height of which we are the low.
Not to the microbe do the lofty pines
Bear such a ratio, nor a dust-grain make
So small a showing to a galaxy;
But as the mountain in the quiet lake
May seem to balance on its point, so we
Bear, even in acknowledgment, the splendor
Of G-d, which in this world cannot appear
Except to the extent that our surrender
Is conscious, willing, joyful, and sincere.
This we proclaim, and know ourselves alive
This Lag b-Omer – of Week Four, Day Five.
(The Just/Foundation within Resonance/Acknowledgment/Splendor)
Those who acknowledge Heaven’s authority
In gratitude must ponder how to make
Their selves an echo of that majesty,
Adjusting to the mold their lives must take,
According to their age and constitution,
The combinations of mind and circumstance,
Giving in measure without diminution
What may be requisitioned to enhance
G-d’s pageantry, and cognizant no less
Of other selves in the integrity
Of their design, upholding under stress
A principle of commonality
Where singularities could fitly mix
On the Omer’s thirty-fifth – four weeks and six.
(Sovereignty/Community within Resonance/Acknowledgment/Splendor)
As Sarah swept the tent and kept the fire,
Prepared the foods the host and stranger blessed,
Tended the lamp that shone the week entire,
Once lit upon the eve of holy rest;
As, keeping house for G-d, levites and priests
Carried the logs, the ash, performed the rites
That bore to higher rung the souls of beasts
And showed their owners thankful or contrite,
So may the spaces where we dwell reflect
(Although the Temple’s light for now is hidden)
Our consciousness of You in daily act,
Abiding by and in what You have bidden,
Royally housed. The Omer’s count now stands
At thirty-five, and thus the fifth week ends.
(Love within Foundation/The Just)
The tent of Abraham had entrances
To all the four directions open wide,
And he’d gaze out into the wilderness
For travelers, to welcome them inside.
And when they had sat down and washed their feet,
Then Avraham and Sarah would regale
Their guests with well-baked bread and choicest meat,
And Avraham would ask them for a tale –
Where they were bound, and with what merchandise,
And what they had encountered on the way –
And his warm interest would give them eyes
To see the truth of what he’d find to say.
We mark, remembering how they were won,
Thirty-six Omer-days – five weeks and one.
(Rigor within Foundation/The Just)
To each within the world that all must share
There is reserved a personal domain
(The rabbis measured it at four ells square,
Or six feet round), where others must refrain
From trespassing. And as for space, the rule
Holds for each person’s intimate concerns,
Where those with best intent themselves must school,
Save by the invitation friendship earns,
Not to barge in, save for most urgent cause.
The righteous learn they must discern, they must
Honor the borders that each other draws
Around the self. And this restraint is trust
In G-d’s direction, trust which we renew
On the Omer’s thirty-seventh – five weeks and two.
(Beauty/Balance/Compassion within Foundation/The Just)
To know when to withhold, and when to give;
To speak and to be silent in due season;
Not so to cleave to one alternative
As to ignore a countervailing reason;
To hear the utterances another makes
As issuing from their center of concern,
And, when a note of woe from discourse breaks,
From sorrow’s revelation not to turn;
And likewise in self-governed poise to keep
Close to the center which the heart controls,
Restraining strength, reinforcing what is weak,
Not greatly favoring either of the poles
In any trait, save in humility,
On the Omer’s thirty-eighth – five weeks and three.
(Eternity/Victory/Endurance within Foundation/The Just)
Securely grounded in the covenant
Of G-d with Israel, and in the weft
Of ties among all souls, not to be rent
By stormy times, they cannot be bereft
Who seek for righteousness. No, they endure
The appearance of division, holding fast
Their vision of the other; and the cure
For such appearance they will find at last.
Yes, they will find a way through all that bars
To reconcile the world's diversity,
As even now, waving above the wars,
They see their rainbow shawl of victory
And hear the tonic chord of G-d's great score
On the Omer's thirty-ninth -- five weeks and four.
(Resonance/Acknowledgment/Splendor within Foundation/The Just)
Those who acknowledge in their souls the Sole
Proprietor of earth’s wide enterprise
And will, accordingly, withhold no toll
Of gratitude that solely justifies
The human franchise, will not be remiss
In thankfulness for heaven’s favor where-
Ever bestowed, nor can with prejudice
Hear tidings of a breach they could repair.
They are the ones who neither give nor take
Offense, nor fail in gladness for a friend;
Thus they keep clear the wandering springs that slake
The people on their wanderings that will end
In the great acknowledgment, may it arrive,
This fortieth Omer-day – five weeks and five.
(Foundation/The Just within Foundation/The Just)
With concentrated passion the tzaddik
Stands in the world, and stands for all he knows,
Titanic, archetypal, yet unique,
Transformer of transcendence, through him flows
The current that could make the world cohere,
Draw in the fleeing fragments toward a center,
Whether it is his portion to be dear,
Recognized, a model and a mentor
For multitudes, a picture on the walls,
A name upon the lips of generations,
Or whether just a silent voice that calls
And through the prayer-sphere sends reverberations –
May it be ours to feel their wakening rays
On the Omer’s forty-first – five weeks, six days.
(Sovereignty/Community within Foundation/The Just)
Upon the seeming monads hither and hence
Driven, and striving toward their several goals,
The righteous one exerts an influence,
Yet from no point external to those souls.
He has lived many lives, nor has death’s sleep
Made him forget; he has been many things,
That all six hundred thirteen he might keep
By virtue of the powers each shape brings.
Thus he contains the world that he embraces,
And it may be his secret, as some say,
That others in his mirror see their faces,
Their fellows, in the Kingdom’s just array.
This sight may we be worthy to behold
On the Omer’s forty-second – six weeks told.
43 - HESED SHEBMALKHUT
(Love within Sovereignty/Community)
The universe around us stretching out
Bewilders with unlimited extent,
Its mute and solid matter fostering doubt
Whether, by all this, anything was meant.
Its galaxies all fleeing to dispersion
We track, but we cannot interrogate;
Its creatures by attraction and aversion
Move without any weekly pause. And yet
In all this is inscribed the word of rest,
A Providence broods like a mother bird
So obviously disguised upon her nest,
And everywhere the call from home is heard
And the whole world by Israel’s light is shown
On the Omer’s forty-third – six weeks and one.
(Rigor within Sovereignty/Community)
This rock on which the seed of life was cast,
With all its wastes of salt and sand and snow,
Its goods and clouds now here, now elsewhere massed,
Vicissitudes that drive us to and fro,
Its thousand things all stamped with the decree
Of dissolution – well may this appear
A jail from which the spirit should get free
And never more look back on it, once clear!
And yet for all these things is justice bidden,
Of which we are the ministers: to lift
By Law-filled act the sparks in matter hidden
Toward Torah’s light, to heal Creation’s rift
By Heaven’s pledge in Israel’s land proved true
On the Omer’s forty-fourth – six weeks and two.
(Beauty/Balance/Compassion within Sovereignty/Community)
This globe of green and blue and brown and white
That holds us even while from very far
We can behold it bedded on black night,
Knowing these strokes of various color are
Vast streams of cloud, and plains of ice, and seas
That nourish them, that they are nourished by,
Deserts and tracts of grass and stands of trees
Beneath which nightly gleams the firefly,
Ephemeral star. May all this beauty, vaster
In its variety than the outer skies,
Give us compassion on this world we master,
This mirror of the wealth that in us lies,
Till we build our Temple, Earth’s epitome,
On the Omer’s forty-fifth – six weeks and three.
(Eternity/Victory/Endurance within Sovereignty/Community)
So many are the problems that confront
The mind that seeks the peace of planet Earth
That all these complications tend to blunt
The quest, sow doubt if any step is worth
The consequences it might draw. The roots
Of all are tangled, and the branches dense.
Yet to the sight of whosoever intuits
Beyond and deeper than the world’s immense
Bewilderment, a point that draws world-lines
To focus – that wild surface yet displays,
In the ultra-ultraviolet light that shines
Out of that point, a path that through the maze
Leads to our land. We tread it, blind yet sure,
On the Omer’s forty-sixth – six weeks and four.
(Resonance/Balance/Acknowledgment within Sovereignty/Community)
Once having heard the planet’s silent plea
And caught the answer whispered from Beyond,
The constant mind works out each corollary,
Each heading and subheading of the bond
Which, thinking of these things, it undertakes
With every other mind that’s likewise drawn
To the table in a game of highest stakes
Where all must win, or everyone go down.
To minds thus drawn together, pledged that no
Misgiving and its consequence be slighted,
The pattern of the world begins to show
In play of correspondences, till, righted,
Our land gives thanks. So may our hopes revive
On the Omer’s forty-seventh – six weeks and five.
(Foundation/The Just within Sovereignty/Community)
Who is the man who knows his flesh and bone
Is bone and flesh of Earth, his breath the breath
Of the wide winds that wrap this wandering stone,
His every feature turned upon the lathe
Of evolution, through unhastening ages
When pregnant Earth moved tireless round the sun
Till she could birth the prophets and the sages
And those who know and will what must be done
That matter may not wholly be misused
But unobstructed from its depth may shine
The light that, from the Origin infused,
Now seeks for our attention to divine
Earth’s, Israel’s fate and ours, ignite soul’s wicks,
On the Omer’s forty-eight – six weeks and six.
(Sovereignty/Community within Sovereignty/Community)
Assembled on this plain before the mountain
Stand all the selves that we have been and are,
Aware of one another, not discounting
The gleam that makes each one of us a star,
Our inner faculties well organized,
Each power well deployed, each weakness shored,
And all of those resources recognized
Which in a friend’s domain lie richly stored:
A union wondrously articulate,
Each in him-or herself, and all in all,
Arranged within the pattern of the great
Vessel for the Torah’s light that soon must fall
To fill Jerusalem. May we behold!
Forty-nine Omer-days, seven weeks, all told.