Category Archives: Seven Weeks of Consolation

49 days until Rosh Hashanah

512px-I-49_(Future).svgThere are seven weeks between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah. Forty-nine days between the spiritual low point of our year, and the newest of new beginnings.

Reb Zalman z”l taught that these 49 days parallel the 49 days of the Omer between Pesach and Shavuot. And Rabbi David Markus this year gave me a way to see how the parallel extends too to the themes of those two great festivals, which we now recapitulate in reverse. In the spring we move from liberation (Pesach) to revelation (Shavuot). As summer prepares to turn, he writes:

Tisha b’Av focuses us on what’s buried in darkness (revelation), and in seven weeks Rosh Hashanah will open wide the teshuvah gates of spiritual renewal (liberation). Our summer/fall journey is our spring journey in reverse: we return to our beginnings.

During the Omer count, many of us focus on seven qualities that we and God share. Sometimes we call these middot, character-qualities. Sometimes we call them the seven “lower” sefirot, the spheres or realms or channels through which divinity flows and is modulated into different forms. As white light is revealed through a prism to contain all of the colors of the rainbow, so God’s Oneness is revealed through this prism to contain these seven colors, these seven qualities, in which we too partake.

During the Omer count, we begin with a week of chesed, lovingkindness, and then work our way all the way to malchut (Shechinah, immanent divine Presence.) During this reverse count we begin with a week of Shechinah / malchut, and then work our way back “up the ladder” to chesed / love. (Here’s a brief description of these seven qualities from R’ Laura Duhan Kaplan, here’s another way of thinking about them from Iyyun, and R’ Simon Jacobson describes them in emotional terms.)

Tisha b’Av was Monday night and Tuesday. Now we’ve entered the first of the seven weeks between Tisha b’Av and the Days of Awe. This is our week of malchut: immanent, indwelling divine Presence. God with us, within us, among us. The divine feminine, the Shechinah. This is also the first of the seven weeks of consolation (see The Seven Weeks of Comfort.) After facing brokenness on Tisha b’Av, now we open ourselves to healing, to comfort, to balm for our wounded places as the Days of Awe approach.

Through a four-worlds lens, I’m asking myself: what do I need to do this week in order to begin preparing myself for Rosh Hashanah? What do I need to cultivate in my heart of hearts, what do I need to feel? What do I need to ruminate and reflect on? What would best feed my soul and uplift my spirit?What do I need — what do you need; what do we all need — to do and feel and think and be during these next 49 days in order to reach the new year with a whole and open heart, ready to be transformed?

Wishing you joy in the journey —

Rabbi Rachel

Cross-posted from Velveteen Rabbi.


Join us for Shabbat Nachamu

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

The Shabbat which begins tonight is called Shabbat Nachamu, “Shabbat of Comfort.” After the deep dive into sorrow which was Tisha b’Av, this week we begin the “seven weeks of consolation,” cultivating hope and comfort as we ascend towards Rosh Hashanah.

And what better way to cultivate your sense of hope, comfort, and connection with God and with community than to join us for Shabbat services tomorrow? This Shabbat I’ll be joined on the bimah by ALEPH rabbinic student David Curiel, who will be our High Holiday cantorial soloist once again this year. Join us for davenen at 9:30 and enjoy harmonies, short teachings, and plenty of joy.

Photo: David leads a meditative service at the 2013 ALEPH Kallah.

There are seven weeks between Tisha b’Av and Rosh Hashanah. The Days of Awe are coming soon! During these seven weeks we have the opportunity to enter into a process of teshuvah, examining who we are and who we’ve been, where we’ve lived up to our hopes and where we could do better in the year to come. Join us for a sweet Shabbat of song and comfort as we enter into this journey together.

Shabbat shalom to all,

Rabbi Rachel