Monday, April 30, 2012

Sifirat HaOmer Day 23 -- Gevurah of Netzach: Discipline in Endurance


Day 23 -- Gevurah of Netzach: Discipline in Endurance

Examine the discipline of your endurance. Endurance must be directed toward productive goals and expressed in a constructive manner. 

Is my endurance and determination focused to help cultivate good habits and break bad ones? 

Or is it the other way around? Does my endurance come from strength or weakness? Does it come out of deep conviction or out of defensiveness? 

Do I use my endurance against itself by being tenacious in my lack of determination?

Exercise for the day: Break one bad habit today.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sifirat HaOmer Day 22 -- Chesed of Netzach: Loving-kindness in Endurance


Day 22 -- Chesed of Netzach: Loving-kindness in Endurance

For anything to endure it needs to be loved. 

A neutral or indifferent attitude will reflect in a marginal commitment. If you have difficulty making commitments, examine how much you love and enjoy the object that requires your commitment. 

Do I love my work? My family? My choices? 

For endurance to be effective it needs to be caring and loving. 

Does my endurance cause me to be, or seem to be, inflexible? Does my drive and determination cause me to be controlling? 

Am I too demanding? Do others (my employees, friends, children) cooperate with me out of the sheer force of my will and drive, or out of love?

Exercise for the day: When fighting for something you believe in, pause a moment to ensure that it is accomplished in a loving manner.

Saturday, April 28, 2012




During the fourth week of counting the Omer, we examine and refine the emotional attribute of endurance known as Netzach. Netzach means endurance, fortitude and ambition and is a combination of determination and tenacity. It is a balance of patience, persistence and guts. Endurance is also being reliable and accountable, which establishes security and commitment.

Without endurance, any good endeavor or intention has no chance of success. Endurance means to be alive, to be driven by what counts. It is the readiness to fight for what you believe, to go all the way. This, of course, requires that endurance be closely examined to ensure that it is used in a healthy and productive manner.

Do a free write using any or all  of the words:


Sifirat HaOmer Day 21 -- Malchut of Tiferet: Nobility in Compassion


Day 21 -- Malchut of Tiferet: Nobility in Compassion

Examine the dignity of your compassion. For compassion to be complete (and enhance the other six aspects of compassion) it must recognize and appreciate individual sovereignty. It should boost self-esteem and cultivate human dignity. Both your own dignity and the dignity of the one benefiting from your compassion.

Is my compassion expressed in a dignified manner? Does it elicit dignity in others? 

Do I recognize the fact that when I experience compassion as dignified it will reflect reciprocally in the one who receives compassion?

Exercise for the day: Rather than just giving charity, help the needy help themselves in a fashion that strengthens their dignity.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sifirat HaOmer Day 20 -- Yesod of Tiferet: Bonding in Compassion

Day 20 -- Yesod of Tiferet: Bonding in Compassion

For compassion to be fully realized, it needs bonding. It requires creating a channel between giver and receiver; a mutuality that extends beyond the moment of need. A bond that continues to live on. That is the most gratifying result of true compassion. 

Do you bond with the one you have compassion for, or do you remain apart? Does your interaction achieve anything beyond a single act of sympathy?

Exercise for the day: Ensure that something eternal is built as a result of your compassion.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Writing Anywhere


I had to do a an imaging test at the hospital.

I knew it would be a long wait.  There was some fasting and something to drink once I was admitted and then  once the liquid was in me, it had to settle into my gut.  Of course, I also had to plain old wait my turn at the machine.

I knew I had to have something with me to pass the time. Past experience told me that to read in a place like that, the waiting room (more like a long hallway!) of the Imaging Dept. in a busy hospital would be a waste of time.  I wouldn't be able to concentrate. So instead I brought a note book and I wrote.

The possibilities around me for finding what to write about were numerous.  The setting, the people, the reasons why I was there at all that day were all good starting places for writing.

But I was nervous and not a little impatient to have it all over with, so I wrote many short things.  Poems essentially.

  • Find some kind of pen and paper, pad, notebook, or tablet to keep with you where ever you go.
  • When you are waiting on line, or on a bus, or on hold with the telephone company, take the paper out, find an object in line of sight and write what ever pops into your head.

SIfirat HaOmer Day 19 -- Hod of Tiferet: Humility in Compassion


Day 19 -- Hod of Tiferet: Humility in Compassion

If compassion is not to be condescending, it must include humility. Hod is recognizing that my ability to be compassionate and giving does not make me better than the recipient; it is the acknowledgment and appreciation that by creating one who needs compassion God gave me the gift of being able to bestow compassion. Thus there is no place for haughtiness in compassion.

Do I feel superior because I am compassionate? 

Do I look down at those that need my compassion? 

Am I humble and thankful to God for giving me the ability to have compassion for others?

Exercise for the day: Express compassion in an anonymous fashion, not taking any personal credit.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sifirat HaOmer Day 18 -- Netzach of Tiferet: Endurance in Compassion


Day 18 -- Netzach of Tiferet: Endurance in Compassion

Is my compassion enduring and consistent? Is it reliable or whimsical? Does it prevail among other forces in my life? 

Do I have the capacity to be compassionate even when I'm busy with other activities or only when it's comfortable for me? 

Am I ready to stand up and fight for another?

Exercise for the day: In the middle of your busy day take a moment and call someone who needs a compassionate word. Defend someone who is in need of sympathy even if it's not a popular position.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sifirat HaOmer Day 17 -- Tiferet of Tiferet: Compassion in Compassion


Day 17 -- Tiferet of Tiferet: Compassion in Compassion

True compassion is limitless. 

It is not an extension of your needs and defined by your limited perspective. 

Compassion for another is achieved by having a selfless attitude, rising above yourself and placing yourself in the other person's situation and experience. 

Am I prepared and able to do that? If not, why? Do I express and actualize the compassion and empathy in my heart? What blocks me from expressing it? Is my compassion compassionate or self-serving? Is it compassion that comes out of guilt rather than genuine empathy? How does that affect and distort my compassion? 

Test yourself by seeing if you express compassion even when you don't feel guilty.

Exercise for the day: Express your compassion in a new way that goes beyond your previous limitations: express it towards someone to whom you have been callous.

From the Daily Omer at

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sifrat HaOmer Gevurah of Tiferet: Discipline in Compassion

Day 16 -- Gevurah of Tiferet: Discipline in Compassion

For compassion to be effective and healthy it needs to be disciplined and focused. It requires discretion both to whom you express compassion, and in the measure of the compassion itself. It is recognizing when compassion should be expressed and when it should be withheld or limited. 

Discipline in compassion is knowing that being truly compassionate sometimes requires withholding compassion. Because compassion is not an expression of the bestower's needs but a response to the recipient's needs.

Exercise for the day: Express your compassion in a focused and constructive manner by addressing someone's specific needs.

Write about having to tell some one "no" for their own good.

Brachot HaShachar: Releases the Confined

Releases the confined מתיר אסורים matir assurim


  • Choose a word from the list below and free associate for a full page or 5 minutes.
  • Incorporate as many words as you can from the list below into a piece. Write for at least 10 minutes.

house arrest
let go

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sefirat HaOmer Day 15 -- Chesed of Tiferet

Day 15 -- Chesed of Tiferet: Loving-kindness in Compassion

Examine the love aspect of compassion. Ask yourself: Is my compassion tender and loving or does it come across as pity? Is my sympathy condescending and patronizing? Even if my intention is otherwise, do others perceive it as such? Does my compassion overflow with love and warmth; is it expressed with enthusiasm, or is it static and lifeless?

Exercise for the day: When helping someone extend yourself in the fullest way; offer a smile or a loving gesture.

Reprinted from The Daily Omer Aish .com

Saturday, April 21, 2012



During the third week of Counting the Omer, we examine the emotional attribute of Tiferet or compassion. Tiferet blends and harmonizes the free outpouring love of Chesed with the discipline of Gevurah.

Tiferet possesses this power by introducing a third dimension -- the dimension of truth, which is neither love nor discipline and therefore can integrate the two.

Truth is accessed through selflessness: rising above your ego and your predispositions, enabling you to realize truth. Truth gives you a clear and objective picture of yours and others' needs. This quality gives Tiferet its name, which means beauty: it blends the differing colors of love and discipline, and this harmony makes it beautiful.

Exercise:  Write using one of the key words for this week in a full page of writing or for at least 5 minutes.  Be sure to keep  your hand moving and write whatever comes out-don't edit yourself.  Just flow.

The highest level of truth is peace. 

Sefirat HaOmer Day 14 -- Malchut of Gevurah

Day 14 -- Malchut of Gevurah: Nobility of Discipline

Discipline, like love, must enhance personal dignity. Discipline that breaks a person will backfire. Healthy discipline should bolster self-esteem and help elicit the best in a person; cultivating his sovereignty. Does my discipline cripple the human spirit; does it weaken or strengthen me and others?

Exercise for the day: When disciplining your child or student, foster his self-respect.

Reprinted from The Daily Omer Aish .com

Friday, April 20, 2012

Sefirat HaOmer Day 13 -- Yesod of Gevurah

Day 13 -- Yesod of Gevurah: Bonding in Discipline
For discipline to be effective it must be coupled with commitment and bonding. Both in disciplining yourself and others there has to be a sense that the discipline is important for developing a stronger bond. Not that I discipline you, but that we are doing it together for our mutual benefit.

Exercise for the day: Demonstrate to your child or student how discipline is an expression of intensifying your bond and commitment to each other.

Reprinted from The Daily Omer Aish .com 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sefirat HaOmer Day 12 -- Hod of Gevurah


Day 12 -- Hod of Gevurah: Humility in Discipline
The results of discipline and might without humility are obvious. The greatest catastrophes have occurred as a result of people sitting in arrogant judgment of others. Am I arrogant in the name of justice (what I consider just)? Do I ever think that I sit on a higher pedestal and bestow judgment on my subjects below? What about my children? Students?

Exercise for the day: Before judging anyone, insure that you are doing so selflessly with no personal bias

Reprinted from The Daily Omer Aish .com

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sefirat HaOmer Day 11 -- Netzach of Gevurah

Day 11 -- Netzach of Gevurah: Endurance in Discipline
Effective discipline must be enduring and tenacious. Is my discipline consistent or only when forced? Do I follow through with discipline? Am I perceived as a weak disciplinarian?

Exercise for the day: Extend the plan you made on day two for a longer period of time listing short-term and long-term goals. Review and update it each day, and see how consistent you are and if you follow through

Reprinted from The Daily Omer Aish .com

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Don't ever give up!!

Don't ever give up!!  Keep writing!

Sefirat HaOmer Day 10 -- Tiferet of Gevurah

Day 10 -- Tiferet of Gevurah: Compassion in Discipline
Underlying and driving discipline must not only be love, but also compassion. Compassion is unconditional love. It is love just for the sake of love, not considering the others position. Tiferet is a result of total selflessness in the eyes of God. You love for no reason; you love because you are a reflection of God. Does my discipline have this element of compassion?

Exercise for the day: Be compassionate to someone you have reproached.

Reprinted from The Daily Omer Aish .com

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Annual Jerusalem Writers’ Seminar Tuesday May 1st 2012

I've been twice and it was helpful, interesting and a pleasure to be in the same room with so many other Jewish women writers.

 The Annual Jerusalem Writers’ Seminar
A symposium on creating, writing, and earning!

Tuesday, May 1st- Tet Iyar, 2012

Shirat Yerushalayim Hall
Rechov Kanfei Nesharim #64, Givat Shaul, Jerusalem

9AM- 5PM, refreshments and lunch included (hechsher Badatz HaEida Hachareidis)

 This full-day program will include:

  • Presentations by Esther Heller, Tamar Ansh, Sarah Shapiro, Yael Mermelstein, Batya Ruddell, Avigail Sharer, Libi Astaire, Shifrah Devorah Witt, Yaffa Ganz, Varda Branfman, Ann Goldberg,Naomi Elbinger, Yocheved Krems, Paula Stern, and more. 
  • Publishers of leading magazines and books will be on hand for consultations
  • Special workshops on “Hands-on Writing.” Gain real practice in writing for children, historical writing, technical writing, freelance writing, grant writing, or poetry.
  • Discussion groups on wide variety of topics of interest for everyone
  • Network and meet the people behind the names!
 See schedule below

Price for the full day: 200 NIS.

For the morning session or afternoon session only- 90 NIS
For the morning session or afternoon session plus lunch-150 NIS 

** Early bird prices for those who pay by Tuesday, April 24 **   

For full day: 160 NIS
Morning OR afternoon session only: 70 NIS
Morning OR afternoon session plus lunch: 130 NIS

Seminar Schedule

8:30             Doors open for those who haven't registered
9:00-9:30     Welcome and opening address: Tamar Ansh
9:30-10:15   Yael Mermelstein: Brainstorming
10:15-11:00  Shifrah Devorah Witt  
11:00-11:30  Esther Heller: Making Your Writing Move
11:30-12:00  Sharing Our Writing with Yocheved Krems
12:15-12:45  Sarah Shapiro: Is Nothing New Under the Sun? When We're Inspired by Other Writers
1:00-2:30      Raffle, followed by lunch
2:45-3:30      Elective Workshops 

These will be hands-on workshops on writing fields. Instead of telling about the field like last year, each leader will teach
a basic skill of her field.

A. Technical Writing: Producing a Technical Instruction with Paula Stern
B. Historical Writing with Libi Astaire
C. Writing for Children: Producing an Opening Page with Avigail Sharer 
D. Poetry Writing with Varda Branfman 
3:30-4:15     Naomi Elbinger: Can a Frum Woman Build a Successful Writing Career in the Internet Age: Practical Tips, Personal Experiences, Motivation, and Realism.

4:15-5:00     Small Discussion Groups on a variety of topics 

A. Discussing writing issues with Yaffa Ganz
B. Discussing book promotion with Tamar Ansh
C. Overcoming writers' block with Batya Ruddell
D. Developing your freelance writing career with Ann Goldberg

One-on-one appointments with publishers and presenters will be available. 
This information will be sent to all participants to be arranged after Pesach.

Payment for the seminar is in cash only and can be dropped off at the following locations:

Ramot                                   Michal Borinstein                 02-586-9196
Neve Yaakov                        Chaya Baila Gavant                    585-0591
Sarai Yisroel                        Yocheved Leah Perkal                538-9578
Har Nof                               Tamar Ansh                                651-0391
Ramat Beit Shemesh             Bracha Fridrich                         991-8413
Beitar                                  Leora Gruen                               580-8970
Maaleh Adumim                   Yaffa Ganz                                  590-1879
Kiryat Sefer                          Tova Younger                        08 928-5589
Tsfat                                       Esther Heller                       04-697-2324

Please bring exact change when you pay. Early bird prices effective until Tuesday, April 24th  and must be paid by one of the places listed above in advance of the seminar.
Please note that there will be an area set aside for participants that need to bring a baby along. Please only bring babies that are young enough to sit still and be (basically) quiet.

For questions, please contact registration coordinators Michal Borinstein at or Leora Gruen at 02-580-8970.

To register: Please email Michal Borinstein at or call Leora Gruen at 02-580-8970. 
 If you are signing up for the whole day or just the afternoon session, please indicate which elective workshop and discussion group you wish to attend.

Looking forward to greeting you there,
All the best,
Esther Heller and Tamar Ansh

Courage and Craft by Barbara Ambercombie Recommended book!


I'm reading Courage and Craft by Barbara Abercrombie.
She's understands writers!
She knows what to say to encourage a writer to keep writing!
I'll be using this book in my writing class.

Sefirat HaOmer Day 9 -- Gevurah of Gevurah

Day 9 -- Gevurah of Gevurah: Discipline in Discipline
Examine the discipline factor of discipline: Is my discipline reasonably restrained or is it excessive?

 Do I have enough discipline in my life and in my interactions? Am I organized? Is my time used efficiently?

Why do I have problems with discipline and what can I do to enhance it? Do I take time each day for personal accounting of my schedule and accomplishments?
Exercise for the day: Make a detailed plan for spending your day and at the end of the day see if you've lived up to it.

Reprinted from The Daily Omer Aish .com

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sefirat HaOmer Week 2 Gevurah Day 8 - Chesed of Gevurah

After the miraculous Exodus from Egypt, the Jewish people spent 49 days preparing for the most awesome experience in human history -- the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Just as the Jewish peoples' redemption from Egypt teaches us how to achieve inner freedom in our lives; so too, this 49-day period, called 'Sefirat Ha-Omer' the Counting of the Omer, is a time of intense character refinement and elevation.
During this time, the aspect of the human psyche that most requires refinement is the area of the emotions. The spectrum of human experience consists of seven emotional attributes, or sefirot. This week we continue Sefirat Ha'Omer, utilizing the seven dimensions of the seven emotional attributes. The first week after Pesach was dedicated to examining the aspect of chesed, loving-kindness. The second week corresponds to the emotional attribute of gevurah, discipline or justice.
If love (Chesed) is the bedrock of human expression, discipline (Gevurah) is the channel through which we express love. It gives our life and love direction and focus. Gevurah -- discipline and measure -- concentrates and directs our efforts, our love in the proper directions.

Reprinted from the Daily Omer

Sefirat HaOmer Day 8 - Chesed of Gevurah

Day 8 - Chesed of Gevurah: Loving-kindness in Discipline
The underlying intention and motive in discipline is love. Why do we measure our behavior, why do we establish standards and expect people to live up to them -- only because of love. Chesed of gevurah is the love in discipline; it is the recognition that your personal discipline and the discipline you expect of others is only an expression of love. It is the understanding that we have no right to judge others; we have a right only to love them and that includes wanting them to be their best.
Ask yourself: when I judge and criticize another is it in any way tinged with any of my own contempt and irritation? Is there any hidden satisfaction in his failure? Or is it only out of love for the other?
Exercise for the day: Before you criticize someone today, think twice: Is it out of concern and love?

Reprinted from The Daily Omer

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sefirat HaOmer Day 7 -- Malchut of Chesed


Day 7 -- Malchut of Chesed: Nobility in Loving-kindness

Mature love comes with -- and brings -- personal dignity. An intimate feeling of nobility and regality. Knowing your special place and contribution in this world. Any love that is debilitating and breaks the human spirit is no love at all.

For love to be complete it must have the dimension of personal sovereignty.

Exercise for the day: Highlight an aspect of your love that has bolstered your spirit and enriched your life...and celebrate.

Reprinted from Daily Omer

This post appears early because of the Holiday and Shabbat.
Chag Semach and Shabbat Shalom!

Sefirat HaOmer Day 6 -- Yesod of Chesed


Day 6 -- Yesod of Chesed: Bonding in Loving-kindness

For love to be eternal it requires bonding. A sense of togetherness which actualizes the love in a joint effort. An intimate connection, kinship and attachment, benefiting both parties. This bonding bears fruit; the fruit born out of a healthy union.

Exercise for the day: Start building something constructive together with a loved one

Reprinted from Daily Omer at

Sefirat HaOmer Day 5 -- Hod of Chesed

Day 5 -- Hod of Chesed: Humility in Loving-kindness

You can often get locked in love and be unable to forgive your beloved or to bend or compromise your position. Hod introduces the aspect of humility in love; the ability to rise above yourself and forgive or give in to the one you love just for the sake of love even if you're convinced that you're right. Arrogant love is not love.

Exercise for the day: Swallow your pride and reconcile with a loved one with whom you have quarreled.

Daily Omer at

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sefirat HaOmer Day 4 -- Netzach of Chesed

Day 4 -- Netzach of Chesed: Endurance in Loving-kindness

Is my love enduring? Does it withstand challenges and setbacks?

Do I give and withhold love according to my moods or is it constant regardless of the ups and downs of life?

Exercise for the day: Reassure a loved one of the constancy of your love

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sifirat HaOmer Day 3 -- Tiferet of Chesed

Day 3 -- Tiferet of Chesed: Compassion, Harmony in Loving-kindness

Harmony in love is one that blends both the chesed and gevurah aspects of love. Harmonized love includes empathy and compassion. Love is often given with the expectation of receiving love in return. Compassionate love is given freely; expects nothing in return - even when the other doesn't deserve love. Tiferet is giving also to those who have hurt you.

Exercise for the day: Offer a helping hand to a stranger.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Sifirat HaOmer Day 2 -- Gevurah of Chesed

Day 2 -- Gevurah of Chesed: Discipline in Loving-kindness
Healthy love must always include an element of discipline and discernment; a degree of distance and respect for another's boundaries; an assessment of another's capacity to contain your love. Love must be tempered and directed properly. Ask a parent who, in the name of love, has spoiled a child; or someone who suffocates a spouse with love and doesn't allow them any personal space.

Exercise for the day: Help someone on their terms not on yours. Apply yourself to their specific needs even if it takes effort.

Taken from Daily Omer  at

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Sifirat HaOmer Day 1 -- Chesed of Chesed

Day 1 -- Chesed of Chesed: Loving-kindness in Loving-kindness
Love is the single most powerful and necessary component in life. It is both giving and receiving. Love allows us to reach above and beyond ourselves, to experience another person and to allow that person to experience us. It is the tool by which we learn to experience the highest reality -- God. Examine the love aspect of your love.
Ask yourself: What is my capacity to love another person? Do I have problems with giving? Am I stingy or selfish? Is it difficult for me to let someone else into my life? Am I afraid of my vulnerability, of opening up and getting hurt?
Exercise for the day: Find a new way to express your love to a dear one.

Reprinted from

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Writing prompt before Passover

The most logical thing to write about this time of the year is cleaning!
But the spirit of the holiday is freedom.
I'm sure the typical Jewish woman finds that some what ironic in the days leading up to the holiday.
This quote from Shemot  is usually cut short:
"And G-d said to Moshe, 'go to Pharoah, and say to him, "thus says G-d 'LET MY PEOPLE GO...'"'" [Shemot 7:26]
It actually continues "and they will serve Me."

The point of Passover is to free ourselves to go out of Egypt and serve Hashem.

Rabbi Yehoshuah ben Levi says in the Pirkei Avot/Chapters of the Fathers 62, "there is no free man like the one who is involved with the study of Torah." 

Write about freedom.

If you can't get your head together for that, feel free to rant about clean!

Just write for a little while today.

Chag semach ve Kasher!