On this 40th day of the Omer, we focus on the Divine Attributes of Hod in Y'sod, Humility in Bonding.
Every year that a tree grows, a new layer or ring of wood forms around the trunk, just under the bark. A tree generally produces one layer of wood each year, comprised of two rings of slightly different colors. The light-colored section is the spring and summer growth. The darker, denser wood is the fall and winter growth. The alternation of the light and dark make the rings visible. When a tree is cut down, we can count the rings of the stump, and find out how old it was at the moment of cutting.
We can also get the general idea of how old a tree is by hugging it. Martin Buber made the idea of an intimate relationship with a tree famous in his book, I and Thou, when he spoke of having an I-Thou relationship with one of these impressive plants. We can count the tree rings, or we can put our arms around the tree and see if our hands with touch on the other side. If the tree is way too big around for this, we can hold hands with our friends and see if together we can encircle it. When we hug the tree, when we engage with it, we enter into relationship with the tree, and, in Buber's words, it "ceases to be an It."
The same is true with our relationships with each other. We can count the wrinkles, the pounds, the errors, the false steps, or the grey hairs, or we can put aside our superiority and put our arms around the ones we love and enter into relationship. We can experience humility and love, humility and bonding.
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 forty days which is five weeks and five days of the Omer.