Day Seven of Week 2 (14th day of Omer): Malchut in Gevurah
by Susie Davidson
Malchut is about dignity, and the final manifestation of the intended change. But it is also about sovereignty and authority, and if necessary, assessing if the recipients of such change are deserving and judging if they will utilize it wisely. It could only have been unimaginably difficult for G-d to mete out justice in the form of punishment to those of His creation. Similarly, it is tough for us to judge others, and our own detrimental leanings and inclinations as well. That's where the discernment of Gevurah can help us to realize the impediments that lie along our path.
With Gevurah, characterized by the strict adherence to law and meting of justice, and Malchut, dignity, together they are about restraining the urge to shower goodness upon those who are unworthy or could misuse such gifts. Although G-d's actions of punishment were meant for the bettering of humanity, they have lasting repercussions, and it is our duty to continue to improve upon our past transgressions. We do this during the first 33 days of the Omer, which is a period of mourning recalling the tragic deaths of thousands of students of Rabbi Akiva, as the Talmud explains, because they were disrespectful toward one another. Lag B'Omer, the eighteenth of Iyar, with "Lag" meaning the number 33 in Hebrew, signifies a break in the plague. During the 33 days leading up to this day, we hold no weddings or events with dancing, play no music (purely vocal music is allowed), and don't get haircuts or shave. And we try to find ways to treat others with great respect. In this way, we try to make a "tikkun," a spiritual correction in ourselves and the world. That is the ultimate form of dignity, especially as we are attempting to repair not only our own sins, but the sins of our past brethren.
It is only through proper homage and penitence for the mistakes of the past, and after we have assessed whether or not the intended recipients are deserving, that we can then move to manifest our aims.
The shmita year in agriculture provides for a healing from past transgressions in relation to the earth, such as overuse of the soil and its elements, over-irrigation, over-production. We give the earth a rest, and find other ways to sustain ourselves and others with respect. Then we can move forward in our manifestation of feeding ourselves and others from a dignified and renewed beginning. Giving the earth a rest is a powerful and difficult to imagine task. Here are some ideas from 7seedsproject.org about how to renew the shmita culture and change the way we relate to the Earth:
- Plant fruit trees. Reclaim sidewalk green strips, park lands, street meridians, traffic circles…let your street trees gift you fruit, as well as shade, fresh air, rain flow management, and soil retention.
- Locate and map the fruit trees growing in your areas.
- Create Tree Care teams to help with tree pruning, fruit thinning, and fertility management.
- Organize neighborhood harvest parties to gather all the ripe fruit hanging from your trees.