Omer 19 Radical Amazement

Omer 19 Radical Amazement

Day 19: Hod she’b’Tiferet, Gratitude within Beauty

Photo of a shimmering golden pollen covered bee in flight against the background of a dark flower illustrating a post about radical amazement


Awareness of the divine begins with wonder.

It is the result of what [we] do with [our] higher incomprehension.

The greatest hindrance to such awareness is our adjustment to conventional notions, to mental cliches.

Wonder or radical amazement, the state of maladjustment to words and notions, is a prerequisite for an authentic awareness of that which is.

(Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man, 46.)


What is radical amazement?

It’s a state of constant questioning.

About what?

Our habits of thought and feeling.

Truisms everyone seems to agree on.

Familiar political ideologies.

Stereotypes of people we don’t know well.

Ways of seeing non-human creatures.

Radical amazement starts when we notice a little tear in the fabric of our reality.

Maybe we see something so beautiful that ordinary life feels dull. So we ask ourselves, “Why don’t we usually see such beauty?” And, “What can we do to fix that?”

Or maybe we see something so upsetting, we can no longer feel at home in a world that allows it. So we ask ourselves, “Why is the world is so hard?” And, “What can we do to change it?”

Each little tear is a glimpse behind a curtain. Behind a veil of habit that hides possibilities. Or behind a screen that dims the world’s beauty.

Can we learn to lean into the questions? And be grateful for them?


What questions are calling to you right now?

Spend some time leaning into them—and into radical amazement.

And if you want to learn more about Heschel’s social and spiritual thought, here’s an introduction I wrote exactly 20 years ago.

About the Questions

These questions take off from the text above. And they also go deeper into the day’s reflections in the book Shechinah, Bring Me Home: Kabbalah and the Omer in Real Life.

There are many ways to explore these questions. You can: Tell a story from your own life. Give an example from a book or a movie. Write a poem. Analyze a concept. Offer a definition. Draw a picture. Sing a song.

New to the Omer? Here’s a guide to the theory and practice.

Image Credits: Unless otherwise noted, all photos are mine.

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