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Counting of the Omer: 49 Steps Toward Inner Wholeness

A Daily Meditation for Each Day of Sefirat HaOmer

    Rabbi YY Jacobson

  • May 10, 2017
  • |
  • 14 Iyyar 5777
  • Comment

Class Summary:

Counting of the Omer - 49 Steps Toward Inner Wholeness with Rabbi YY Jacobson

Select a day of the Omer to read Rabbi YY Jacobson's message for that day.

📅  Day 18  -  Netzach Shebitiferes - Victory in Empathy

📅  Day 19  -  Hod Shebitiferes – Humility in Empathy

📅  Day 20  -  Yesod Shebitiferes – Bonding in Empathy

📅  Day 21  -  Malachus Shebtiferes – Leadership in Empathy

📅  Day 22  -  Chesed SheBnetzach – Kindness in Victory

📅  Day 23  -  Gevurah Shebenetzach – Discipline in Victory

📅  Day 24  -  Tiferes Shebintetzach – Empathy in Victory

📅  Day 25  -  Netzach Shebinetzach – Victory in Victory

📅  Day 26  -  Hod Shebinetzach – Humility in Victory

📅  Day 27  -  Yesod Shebinetzach – Bonding in Victory

📅  Day 28  -  Mualchs Shebinetzach – Leadership In Victory

📅  Day 29  -  Chesed Shebihod – Kindness in Humility

📅  Day 30  -  Gevurah Shebihod – Discipline in Humility

📅  Day 31  -  Tiferes Shebihod – Empathy in Humility

📅  Day 32  -  Netzach Shebihod – Victory in Humility

📅  Day 33  -  Hod Shebihod – Humility in Humility


Day 18
Netzach Shebitiferes - Victory in Empathy

Joke: A beggar walks up to a well-dressed woman on Rodeo Drive Beverly Hills and says, "Lady, I haven't eaten in three days." She looks at him and goes, "Ah, I wish I had your willpower."

The seven weeks of the counting of the Omer are dedicated to personal and collective healing, cleansing ourselves from toxicity, and achieving inner wholeness.

The first week is dedicated to the emotion of Chesed, love. The second week — to Gevurah, discipline. This week, the third week, we focus on Tiferes, which means beauty, empathy and compassion. Beauty is about symmetry and integration. Empathy, too, is the integration of perspectives; I can appreciate things from your vantage point.

The first three days of the week we focused on kindness in our empathy, making sure we know how to express empathy in a genuine way. Then we move on to discipline in empathy, ensuring that our compassion does not invade the borders of the other (“my whole life is ruined because of your pain;” I feel so bad for you as you are clueless;” “I know exactly how you feel and this is what you should do.”) Then we focus on the empathy aspect of empathy. We want that our empathy itself must be communicated with empathy and understanding, not overbearing (too much chesed) and not aloof (too much gevurah.)

Today we focus on victory in empathy. Sometimes it is safer to remain on the fence and not empathize with a person or a situation. Who wants to be ridiculed? Here is where you must overcome outer resistance and score a victory against those forces that wish to keep you passive and indifferent.

Do not be afraid to fight for truth, compassion and justice.


Day 19
Hod Shebitiferes – Humility in Empathy

Genuine empathy requires humility (Hod means surrender, humility, submission.) I must listen closely to the other person’s needs and wants. Sometimes we become smug and arrogant in our empathy, trying to guide other people’s emotions and pathways. We are empathetic on our terms, not on theirs.

I must learn to cultivate humility and modesty in my empathy. I need to open myself up to what the other person is feeling, not what I think they should be feeling.

Day 20
Yesod Shebitiferes – Bonding in Empathy

Johnson, a businessman from Wisconsin, went on a business trip to Louisiana. He immediately sent an e-mail back home to his wife, Jennifer.

Unfortunately, he forgot his wife's exact e-mail address and the e-mail ended up going to a Mrs. Joan Johnson of New Jersey, the wife of a preacher who had just passed away. The preacher's wife took one look at the e-mail and promptly fainted.

When she was finally revived by her daughter, she nervously pointed to the message, which read: "Arrived safely, but it sure is hot down here.”

Some people have good intentions, but they are clueless as how to communicate the fact that they care.

Do you know how to communicate your empathy in a way that the other person gets it? Do you know how to choose the right words that will allow your words to resonate? Yesod represents bonding and communicativity, the ability to share in a way that the other person can absorb.

Instead of trying to connect with your husband by telling him “you look stressed” (which drives many men mad), say: “I appreciate how hard you work and how much you care for our family.”

Instead of telling your wife, “You are upset again?” choose these words: “I know this may be a stressful time for you and I want you to know that I am here for you.”

Learn how to look someone in the eyes and choose the proper words that will make them feel your connection to them. This is true with loved ones, friends, and colleagues. It is also true with students. When someone asks you a serious question, do not answer the question; answer the person.

Day 21
Malachus Shbitiferes – Leadership in Empathy

A young therapist is going home at 6:00 P.M., after a hard day with his patients. His shirt is rumpled, and he’s exhausted. On the elevator he notices an older psychiatrist, with an office on the same floor, who looks fresh and shows no signs of fatigue. “How do you do it?” asks the young therapist. “I’m absolutely exhausted after a day of listening to my patients talk about their problems. But you don’t seem to be tired at all.”

“Who listens?” replies the older psychiatrist.

Do you know how to be there for someone even if you’re not in the mood? Empathy is not about me, it is about you. I may be stressed, I may need my own help, but at this moment I am choosing to listen to you and to be here for you.

That is what Malachus (kingship) means—the capacity of the soul to be a true selfless leader. I have the confidence to suspend my needs at the moment and truly tune in to yours.


Day 22
Chesed Shebinetzach – Kindness in Victory

A young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him to his study and said to him, “I’ll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up and get your hair cut and we’ll talk about it.”

After about a month the boy came back and again asked his father if they could discuss the use of the car. They again went to the father’s study where the father said, “Son, I've been real proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you've studied diligently, but you didn't get your hair cut!”

The young man waited a moment and replied, “You know Dad, I've been thinking about that. You know, Samson had long hair, King Solomon had long hair, and even Moses had long hair…”

To which his father replied, “Yes, and they walked everywhere they went!”

In life we must sometimes fight various obstacles, from within or without, in order to achieve our desired goals. Yet, we must be kind and loving in our victories. Even when you have to say “no,” do it with kindness. Even when you have to say no to a part of yourself, do it with love.

Even when you are competing ferociously, be kind and sensitive. When you win, remember those who did not. At the end of the day, for me to win, you also have to win.

Don’t allow victory to blind you to the emotions of the other.

Day 23
Gevurah Shebinetzach – Discipline in Victory

Life requires of us to overcome hurdles, challenges and obstacles of all sorts. We must at times confront situations, battle injustice, and triumph over opposition.

Yet every victory must come with restrain and discipline. It must be tempered by the voice of integrity. You must challenge yourself to ensure that your drive to victory is not overtaken by arrogance, vengeance and the need to be right.

Ask yourself, do I trample on people and their emotions on the way to fulfill my ambitions? Do I need to win every argument? Can I respect my opponent even if we disagree? Is my urge for victory tempered by self-control and self-refinement?

Even when I am forced to fight, I must never trespass boundaries that do not belong to me.

Day 24
Tiferes Shebintetzach – Empathy in Victory

Even as you score a victory, be empathetic. Do not allow it to get personal and petty. Always appreciate the other perspective.

Even when you must make a drastic move, have empathy for the people being affected. Be driven by the cause of doing good and being good. Let your triumphs profess the majesty of dignity and broad-mindedness.

Learn to disagree without becoming disagreeable. Tiferes means beauty which always comes from the synthesis of polarities. Do not become petty with your disputes. Do not cut off people forever. Don’t fall prey to the black-or-white instinct.

Big people do not allow pettiness to occupy space in their souls.

Day 25
Netzach Shebinetzach – Victory in Victory

Yeshiva University in Golders Green decided to put together a rowing team. Unfortunately, they lost race after race. They practiced for hours every day, but never managed to come in any better than dead last. The Head of the Yeshiva finally decided he couldn't stand any more embarrassment so he sent Yankel to spy on the Oxford University team.

So Yankel went off to Oxford and hid in the bulrushes off the river from where he carefully watched the Oxford team as they practiced.

Yankel finally returned to the Yeshiva.

"I have figured out their secret," he announced. "They have eight guys rowing and only one guy shouting."

Life is filled with obstacles and hitches, both inner and outer. There are people and forces that may try to cut you down and mock your dreams. You may encounter inner voices that belittle you and invoke despair. Yet you have the ability to overcome all odds and triumph over the forces that undermine your calling, dignity and destiny.

Your soul is capable of winning.

Sometimes, you need to fight for your truth; you need to wage combat for your loved ones; you must battle for your relationships, for your integrity, for your G-d, for your homeland, for your people. Sometimes you got to fight for your kids.

Fear not.


Day 26
Hod Shebinetzach – Humility in Victory

Success must breed more humility, not arrogance. View your success as a gift, an opportunity to achieve good and help people.

Do not allow your victories and success stories to get to your head and dehumanize you. Maintain a balanced perspective, and remember, that it is not about you alone. You are an ambassador of G-d to bring light, love and hope.

Day 27
Yesod Shebinetzach – Bonding in Victory

A man was laying a new concrete path. No sooner was his back turned and a crowd of children came running by, leaving unsightly foot marks all over the hardening surface. The man started to swear and scream. A neighbor who heard him said, “I’m surprised, Sam. You told me you liked kids.”

“I like them in the abstract, but not in the concrete.”

It is not enough to fight for a loved one; you must also bond with them. Some parents will fight for their children but not bond with them. Some teachers will fight for their students, but not bond with them. Some husbands will fight for their wives, but not bond with them.

To take a stand against injustice and to protect the innocent is vital. But not enough. We must also bond with those we are fighting for. We must show them our concern and make them feel special and protected.

Day 28
Malchus Shebinetzach – Leadership In Victory

In life, we want to emerge victorious, but we must display leadership and stateliness in our successes.

When battling for something, focus on the cause, not the person. Ensure that your victories are inspired by a vision larger than your ego. In your victories, you must take responsibility even for those who may have preferred someone else. Do not use your victories to settle scores.

Let your need for victory not grow out of insecurity, arrogance and ego-centrism. Ask yourself, am I fighting to exact revenge? Because I feel worthless without it? Because I am impulsive?


Day 29
Chesed Shebihod – Kindness in Humility

Hod represents humility and submission; it is the human ability to surrender, confess, display vulnerability and commit oneself to a value beyond his or her emotions.

Yet we often become harsh with others who are not living up to our standards. We sometimes become vindictive, judgmental and develop a holier-than-thou attitude. In our readiness to surrender our egos, we begin resenting others who are not as vulnerable.

Don’t fall into that trap. Humility is a gift—one of the greatest you can give yourself. Be kind and generous. Don't allow your humility to become another form of arrogance and intolerance.

Day 30
Gevurah Shebihod – Discipline in Humility

Never allow humility and self-effacement to be confused with an abolition of boundaries. Humility is about creating space for the other, not about the obliteration of the self.

Humility is about opening yourself up to a truth larger than your imagination today, but it is not about allowing others to diminish your light. You must never become a punching bag and a doormat.

When Steve Jobs was asked what his ultimate success was, he responded: It was the many projects I declined.

Day 31
Tiferes Shebihod – Empathy in Humility

What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? A good lawyer knows the law; a great lawyer knows the judge.

Do not allow your humility to make you deaf to diverse perspectives. Remain empathetic to the conditions and challenges of other people; respect their circumstances and their journeys. They may have an entire different set of challenges.

The sign of authentic humility is the ability to open yourself up to the mosaic of life’s experiences and the tapestry of human emotion without feeling the need to judge them and put them into your context. The truly humble person fears not to create space for whatever may come his or her way, with no need to manipulate or control it.

The greatest healers, leaders, therapists and mentors are those whose humility precedes their knowledge. For their wisdom can touch infinity and experience the full splendor (Tiferes) of every experience.

Day 32
Netzach Shebihod – Victory in Humility

There will be forces that will try to derail you from maintaining humility, vulnerability, and a sense of openness and modesty. At some point we are tempted to cease being students of life, wanting to become masters. You need to fight for humbleness. You need to resist the temptation to grow arrogant and become the person who knows it all and has it all figured out.

Sometimes we submit ourselves to an ideal, a cause, a value. We surrender our egos and understanding to the infinite truth of reality, realizing that if we do not, we will destroy ourselves. All genuine recovery requires surrender. At some point we are tempted to feel that we graduated, and we grow pompous and foolish. We forget that we are “addicts” (each one of us in our own way) always requiring submission. We must tell the devil inside that we will not fall prey to the superiority complex.

Day 33
Hod Shebihod – Humility in Humility

Humility is the prerequisite for all wisdom, growth and truth. Humility grants you the capacity to remain forever a student of truth; it allows for expansive consciousness and for more depth to enter into the containers of your mind. Humility is the awareness that I must always grow, and that my truth today is tainted by the limits of my present horizon. Moving away from my bias, fears and stereotypes allows me to breath in the fresh ear pulsating through existence at every moment.

A sense of humility allows me to be vulnerable, raw, and honest; to have the courage to strip my layers and let my soul grow bare, for only in that process can I touch my own truth and the truth of my G-d. It is through surrender and humility that I can discover who I really am. Vanity and false pride create a facade which distances me from truth.

That is why Lag Baomer, the 33rd day of the Omer, is the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochaei. Reb Shimon, author of the Zohar, the foundational text of Kabbalah, opened us up to the infinity of the soul, the infinity of the universe, the infinity of Torah, and the infinity of G-d. Kabbalah means reception, because the prerequisite for infinity is creating an empty space where you can receive. Infinity can only dwell in a space where there is nothing but infinity.

Please leave your comment below!

  • A

    Adina -4 years ago

    I LOVE this web site - I LOVE the shiurim from Rabbi YY.
    In general I sometimes have trouble finding a specific shiur on the web site.
    But this is a specific question - I am trying to get to the whole "Counting of the Omer" series, and I can only find the page that starts from the 18th day. I keep searching and searching in every possible way. Can you please send a link to Days1 plus?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

    • A

      Admin -4 years ago

      The 'Counting of the Omer' series only included Day #18 to Day #33

      Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • S

    Shmiel -5 years ago

    Wow!  Thank you so, so much!

    I certainly will share your beautiful and helpful insights!

    HaKB”H should bentch you further with hatzlocha in being a Marbitz Torah La’Rabim!!

    A gut Shabbos!


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  • A

    Abie -5 years ago

    Shalom Rabbi Jacobson,

    I didn’t understand something. If we have Emuna and Bitachon that whatever comes to us in our lives is only good, even if it may not look so, then why should we Daven?

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

  • M

    Miriam -6 years ago



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  • I

    Itty -6 years ago

    I absolutely adore your weekly essays, filled with inspiration, clear objectives to the lesson, eloquently expressed, and simply fantastic! 

    Reply to this comment.Flag this comment.

The Sefirah Series

Rabbi YY Jacobson
  • May 10, 2017
  • |
  • 14 Iyyar 5777
  • |
  • Comment

Class Summary:

Counting of the Omer - 49 Steps Toward Inner Wholeness with Rabbi YY Jacobson

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