Our Seven Attributes

May 5, 2023

I love numbers. I have always loved numbers. Unlike words that are malleable and often need context to truly understand their meaning, numbers are fixed and always have a clarity that was comforting to me as a child.

So, it wasn’t a surprise that when I first began reading the Torah, and although the stories of Genesis were packed with colorful characters and unique experiences, I gravitated to the events that revolved around numbers. Why seven days for creation? Certainly, Gd could have created the world in one. Why was Noah to bring onto the ark two non-kosher animals of every kind and seven kosher ones? Why do we have three patriarchs and four matriarchs? These were the questions that drove my initial text studies so many years ago.

It was this line of thinking that first caught my attention in this week’s parshah, Emor. “You must count until the day after the seventh week—fifty days” (Leviticus 23:16) is the text that led to our tradition of Counting the Omer, the days between the end of Passover and the celebration of Shavuot.

Now, at first, the number fifty didn’t seem particularly interesting to me. However, as I began to research “fifty,” I realized my attention kept returning to “the seventh week.” Seven-sevens needed to first be counted in order to get to the fiftieth day. Now that was something to dive into! Because each number has a deeper meaning, and seven is believed to represent “spiritual wholeness and completion, Gdliness, and good fortune,” how could seven-sevens not be a magnet of my curiosity?

It was here, when I dug into these numbers, where I came across a kabbalistic concept that our souls contain seven attributes and that each week of the counting we are taught to reflect on a different attribute:

  1. Love & Kindness (Chessed)
  2. Strength of Judgement (Gevurah)
  3. Beauty/Harmony/Compassion (Tiferet)
  4. Stick-to-it-iveness (Netzach)
  5. Wonder & Admiration (Hod)
  6. Stability & Foundation (Yesod)
  7. Majestic Sovereignty (Malchut)

How wonderful to have the opportunity to reflect annually on developing these seven attributes of ourselves. How many of us acknowledge that we have each of these within us and yet don’t always express them the way we wish? Maybe there was a time when our Gevurah (Strength of Judgement) overshadowed our Tiferet (Beauty/Harmony/Compassion)? Maybe we have developed some attributes more than others.

I conclude with the words of prolific author and speaker Stephen Covey obm, “One of the best ways to educate our hearts is to look at our interaction with other people because our relationships with others are fundamentally a reflection of our relationship with ourselves.”

Maybe some of us haven’t been counting the Omer every day since Passover, and maybe this was a tradition that seemed archaic or too distant to embrace. But, with three weeks left until Shavuot, and with this week’s Torah portion being the week that acknowledges the tradition, maybe we can recognize the practice through a commitment to improving our relationships with others. This week, I encourage you to choose an attribute from the above list and use it to improve or enhance a relationship with a family member, friend, or even someone you haven’t yet met. Because we are…



Shabbat Shalom,