Today we begin a new week, the sixth week of counting the Omer, and for this first day of the week we consider Chesed in Y'sod, Lovingkindness in Bonding.
During this sixth week, trees will provide our inspiration, beginning with oak trees. Growing up in the Midwest, I learned about "oak openings." Oak openings occurred as a result of fires that in the past regularly swept across the prairie land of southern Wisconsin, where I lived as a child. In some areas, the result of these fires was a prairie that wasn't a totally open vista. These prairies were park-like savannas groups of oak trees, or oak openings, scattered throughout, and with areas of shrubs, as well as the more familiar grasses and other flowering plants. The oaks and shrubs survived the fires and kept on growing, but since most trees couldn't survive, the fires kept the area relatively open.
Lovingkindness in bonding. Once, oak openings were common. In Wisconsin alone there were 5.5 million acres. Now there are less than 500 acres. It was an ecosystem that depended on wildfires. The combination of wildfires and oaks, shrubs, and various plants created this unique ecosystem.
What kind of bonding in our lives creates a unique situation that is something greater than the sum of its parts? When we come together with others in deep and significant ways, we bring something special into the world, this is the kindness that emerges as a result of our bonding. These are the gifts that result when we open our hearts and our souls, and precious gifts they are.
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam, asher kid-shanu b'mitzvotav, vitzivanu, al sefirat ha'omer.
Blessed are you Adonai our G!d, ruler of the universe, who sanctifies us with mitzvot and commands us regarding the counting of the Omer.
Today is thirty-six days which is five weeks and one day of the Omer.