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book in Hebrew

Counting the Omer with

Day 6 — Awe

Yirah • יראה

By Nancy Weiss, Los Angeles, California

Claudio Arantes, Cacador, Brazil
Claudio Arantes, Cacador, Brazil

Yirah is a “pathway of illumination….the broad jump over the vast gap between myself and my Creator.... Fly over barriers… for there you will find… the source of existence.” Holding R’ Avraham Eliyahu Kaplan’s teaching in mind, can you recall a time when you encountered this sense of yirah? What stands out about this experience? To the extent that awe invites us into relationship with Divine Presence, each experience of awe is deeply personal. For me, there is a sense of gravitas and profound connection.

Yirah is at the core of my spiritual practice. My kavanah is to open a “pathway of illumination” by noticing the smallest and most ordinary details as I move through my day. This begins with a choice to pause and silence my noisy mind in order to see into the layers and experience what IS. In my morning walk, I chant, look closely and listen. Through the lens of awe, nearly everything has a quality of reaching up, reaching out, reaching in, and often, I find myself embodying bends, curves and grace—becoming branch, tree, cawing crow, snail’s head stretching into the sunlight. The world around me shimmers as I experience everything and everyone as a dwelling place for the Holy.

And I pray: Presence among presences, who summons silence deep inside; Awesome One, for You I am grateful, and for life itself — singing, groping, wrestling, honoring, whirling life. Shimmering light — HaShem Echad!

Of course, there are times that I falter and lose connection. Then, I bring my focus to the middot on my spiritual curriculum that can support me in “flying” over my own barriers. These include: gratitude — the gifts that come from the noticing itself, simplicity — stripping away what is not essential, humility — stepping out of my own way, silence — stilling my mind to pause and to notice what IS, and honor — seeing the light of God.

In Devarim, Moses asks, “What does the Lord your God ask of you but l’yirah?” What inspires awe in your life? Can you find it in the small, ordinary moments as well as in experiences of grandeur? What middot on your curriculum support your practice of yirah?

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