Musings on knitting, crochet, and a fairly loopy life.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

a bit of kabbalah

The Jewish calendar is currently in a period known as "Counting of the Omer." According to Exodus, after the Jews left Egypt, it took 49 days before they reached Mount Sinai where they received the Torah. To commemorate this journey, Jews begin counting the days and weeks of the Omer beginning on the second night of Passover: "Today is one day to the Omer"; "Today is two days to the Omer"; "Today is seven days, which are one week to the Omer"; and so on until they reach "Today is forty-nine days, which are seven weeks to the Omer."

The medieval kabbalists explained that those 49 days (which connect the holidays of Passover and Shavuot) correspond to the forty-nine traits of the human heart. Each year this inner journey is retraced during the counting of the Omer. Shavuot, which literally means "Weeks" is the culmination of this count.

Another way of defining these weeks is by exploring the attributes of the Almighty. The kabbalists believed that God's entire self could not be understood, but God has revealed nine attributes of the Divine Self that interact with each other and the world. These are known as sefirot. Each sefirah  represents one aspect of the Godhead, a facet of the powers of the All Powerful. Each sefirah is also identified with a part of the human body, an aspect of the human personality, a color, and one of the biblical names of the Holy One. 

This year, I'm meditating on the attributes of the Divine by crocheting a 6"x6" square for each week of the Omer; each square will correspond to one sefirot via color.

It's now the 4th week of the Omer, so I'm going to play catch up over the next few days. The first week of the Omer corresponded to the sefirah of Hesed (Lovingkindness). Hesed represents the generous, benevolent side of God, the quality of unconditional Divine Love. Hesed is often translated in this context as "love," "compassion," or "grace." Hesed is associated with the Divine name El or El Elyon (Supreme God). Hesed's color is white.

Here is my square for Hesed (Lovingkindness):
When my seven squares are complete, I will be mailing them to a Ravelry friend who will then forward them to For the Children of Pine Ridge. This group will piece them into warm blankets to be distributed at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

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