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  • Writer's pictureJewish Examiner

Making it Count: Hod

We are a few days until the end of week five of the Jewish custom of counting the Omer (visit my profile to see each week’s reflections). In this series, I read about the week’s theme and essentially free-write about it.

There’s a little bit of God-talk at the beginning where I quote a source, but I always try to minimize my God-talk because I want my writing to be accessible and meaningful, regardless of your belief. (Of course, it still won’t resonate with everyone, and that’s fine.)

Hod (humility, simplicity, beauty)


During the fifth week of counting the Omer, we examine and refine the emotional attribute of Hod or humility. Humility ― and the resulting yielding ― should not be confused with weakness and lack of self-esteem. Hod or humility is modesty ― it is acknowledgment (from the root of the Hebrew word “hoda’ah”). It is saying “thank you” to God. It is clearly recognizing your qualities and strengths and acknowledging that they are not your own; they were given to you by God for a higher purpose than just satisfying your own needs. Humility is modesty; it is recognizing how small you are which allows you to realize how large you can become. And that makes humility so formidable.

My immediate thoughts:
  1. Practice gratitude. Consider what you’re grateful for, but also say thank you to people. Think thank you to people who have affected your life, even if you don’t know them. For example: Before you eat a meal give a silent thanks to all those who were involved in getting it to your plate. Thank the farmers who raised the animals and who provided the food for the animals. Thank the animals themselves, the farm workers, the slaughterhouse, the truck drivers, the grocery store workers, and so forth. Doing so reminds you that your food came from beyond the grocery store. Doing so makes you think about the humans who contributed to your nourishment.

  • Practice anonymous acts of kindness. Make an anonymous donation. Donate clothes, food, and other goods. Hold the door open for someone. Do something to make someone’s life better, for the sake of making their life better.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need help, ask for it. Some people don’t feel comfortable asking for help, but we all need it sometimes.

  • Accept help with ease and grace. Some people don’t feel comfortable accepting help either, but sometimes you need it, and that’s okay.

  • Let go of your stories. Let go of past negative stories. Write new stories. Create your Now.

  • “Things don’t happen to us, they happen for us.” — Michael Hyatt This is something I try to remember. Everything we’ve been through has shaped us somehow. It’s taught us something. If we approach even the negative experiences with love and humility, we can be whole people.

Hazon’s challenge for this week is this:

Purchase in bulk to reduce packaging. Less is more!

This may be a week for trying to live more simply in some way. Giving some things to goodwill? Clearing out a closet? Look around at what you may have accumulated to feel “better.” Can we use an aesthetic, a sense of beauty and simplicity to inspire us for positive change?

  • Donating your stuff is associated with this too. I don’t know if this was the case where you live, but where I live, we had an ice storm in April. This week I finally swapped my winter clothes for summer clothes. This would be a great time to clear out the closet and donate. (I cleaned out my closets in November/December because I was packing to move and didn’t want to take what I didn’t need.)

  • The next time you go grocery shopping, consider buying a couple of other items to donate to a food bank. I used to do this every time I went shopping. I’d buy a few extra non-perishable items (always healthy food) and put it aside at home. Then, when food drive season came around, I had what to donate.

  • Consider a Little Free Library. If you don’t have space or money to make one, find one in your neighbourhood (see website for locations) and visit. It’s my favourite way to get rid of books I no longer need! (There’s always one close to home, and so I take a bag of books on dog walks.) Although it’s a “take a book, leave a book” concept, I’ve never taken one. A couple of homeowners in my neighbourhood have started a Little Free Pantry. After I moved, I left some extra food items in the nearest Little Free Pantry.

If you’re cleaning out your pantry for diet reasons (e.g. you’re going gluten-free), consider donating your cleaned-out items to a Little Free Pantry or a food bank instead of tossing them in the trash — as long as the food is still generally safe to eat, of course.

Lag B’Omer

On the 33rd day of counting the omer, there’s a minor holiday called Lag B’Omer.

There are a few explanations why this holiday exists. One story is that it commemorates Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a Mishnaic sage and leading disciple of Rabbi Akiva in the 2nd century, and the day on which he revealed the deepest secrets of Kabbalah in the form of the Zohar. Omer has kabbalistic roots, and this is integral to them.

I don’t want to dedicate too much space to the holiday’s origins here, so I’ll point you to My Jewish Learning and Chabad to learn more.

Lag B’Omer is a fun one because it’s traditionally celebrated with bonfires. I didn’t grow up with this custom, but I learned of it several years ago. Who doesn’t like a good bonfire?

I’ll be attending a campfire this evening. The invitation on Facebook promises s’mores, storytelling and singing. (Also pita making, but that doesn’t fit the alliteration.) What’s not to like?

What’s inspiring you today? What does “humility” mean to you?

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