by Susie Davidson

Day Two of Week 2 (9th day of Omer):Gevurah in Gevurah Focus, discipline, restraint, determination, careful measure – times two. This is steadfastness in the face of challenge. Michael Zank, who teaches biblical studies at Boston University’s Department of Religion and is Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, writes in his book Approaches to Ancient Judaism that the epithet Gevurah “refers to that which makes the hero (gibbor) a hero.” Zank writes that the root gv”r, in biblical as well as rabbinic literature, is associated with masculinity. Gever meaning “man,” and gibbor, “hero” – that’s one powerful combination that to me is not gender-specific. We can all possess this power and utilize it in ways that benefit the planet and its people. Power has different connotations. In physics, it is the amount of energy consumed per unit time. We power all our technological devices with energy sources. Power, in the social sciences and political spheres, signifies an ability to influence peoples’ actions and behavior. In agriculture, power plays a role in farming equipment and the man- or woman-power needed to work the soil and produce its bounty.

Clearly, there is a danger of abusing power to control, rather than influence. It is best to influence others by good example. Zank goes on to link Gevurah to “the power of horses and…the manly deeds of kings and G-d.” He states that he relates “power,” to the Greek abstract noun dynamis, as it was comprehended by Greek-speaking ancient Jews. “When translating the divine epithet (hag-gevurah), I render it as ‘The Power,’” he writes.

Actions: So what do we do with all this power? This 9th day of Omer is opportune to performing an action for the good of the earth. Organize a public event, promote an environmental cause. In a disciplined way, plan the action carefully, so that it will be most effective.

It’s spring! Envision yourself leading a workshop on organic gardening, or giving a talk on how we can personally counter climate change in our daily lives and behavior. List earth-friendly ways of living that we can adhere to with discipline and power, acting in our own way to save the planet.


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