Gevurah: The Strength of Setting Boundaries

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Genius will not. Education will not.  Persistence and determination alone will solve the problems of the human race.”  Calvin Coolidge

This second week of the counting of the Omer (taking us from Day 8-Day 14) is connected to the Sefirah of Gevurah. Gevurah literally means strength although in Kabbalah it is usually seen as the strength of setting limits or boundaries. As Gevurah sits opposite Chesed (the Sefirah of unbounded love) Gevurah is often interpreted as love through saying, “No.”  In other words, setting limits can also be a way to express love.
As we are using the counting of the Omer this year to change ourselves—a behavior, attitude, or identity, our learning about Gevurah reflects the intention of this Sefirah as “determination” to change.  Next week, the Sefirah of Tiferet will present the opportunity for making a plan for change.
Our preparation for change during the first week of the count focused on the love we have for ourselves. We looked at how love is an important (starting) aspect of change—love for self is requisite for change to have a lasting impact. If love is one “wing” for change then determination is the other “wing.”
While we have not ‘determined’ the exact plan for the change to be implemented by the end of the counting of the Omer, this week we work on our determination to change. We are committing ourselves to be determined–to not procrastinate about change—determined to envision how our steps will move us forward. There may be a lot of fear of what may happen—but each of us is determined to not go back.
This week parallels the Israelites determination to not return to Egypt. Seeing their taskmasters dead on the shore of the split sea (and the sea returned to its normal state and them on the other side) it was clear to them that they were not returning (though they could and later did express their ambivalence about ‘choosing’ to leave Egypt).
Fear was a natural emotion for the journey ahead further into the desert. Once they were determined to not return, the Israelites could ‘plan’ for a new development. So it is with us, once we enlist all aspects of our determination we can plan for change.
[For more elaboration on this week and setting your determination for change sign up for the Omer blog—it comes out separately each Friday afternoon for the coming week].

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