Omer: Day 18 Netzach shebbe Tiferes – Centering

Endurance within Beauty

(Otherwise rendered as endurance within harmony). The center will not hold: my sense of balance will be thrown off, if my center is predicated strictly upon a sense of self. Rather, a transcendent focus will support a sense of balance, by way of transcending ourselves, so that a higher perspective may be gained. Victor Frankl explains that a greater sense of fulfillment than our own selfish pursuits must ensue from “one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself” (Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning).

The ego thrives on pride, and a sense of accomplishment attributed to the efforts made by oneself. Yet, because we are limited beings, this kind of image, focused only on self will not endure. True harmony within may only endure through help from Above; otherwise, the weight of our own worries and concerns in this world, may become overwhelming. For myself, I would overestimate my own sense of self importance, if I thought that I could rely on my own moral, emotional, and intellectual reserves.

Because we are interdependent human beings, our lives are dependent on various factors, and the contributions of others, as well as our familiar and social connections. Therefore, we are somewhat dependent, to a greater or lesser degree, on others outside of ourselves. Ultimately, from the point of view of scripture, G-d would like us to depend on Him. “Cast your burdens upon the L-RD, and He will sustain you” (Psalm 55:23). For, His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isiah 55:9). Therefore, G-d may serve as a prolific resource.

[These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul)].

Yom HaAtzmaut: Israeli Independence Day

May 14, 1948

“Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Is a land born in one day? Is a nation brought forth at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”

– Isaiah 66:8, JPS 1917 Tanach

“And He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the dispersed of Israel, and gather together the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

– Isaiah 10:12, JPS 1917 Tanach

We thank You for the heroism, for the triumphs, and for the miraculous deliverance of our ancestors, in other days and in our time. In the days when Your children were returning to their borders, at the time of a people revived in its land as in days of old, the gates to the land of our ancestors were closed before those who were fleeing the sword. When enemies from within the land together with seven neighboring nations sought to annihilate Your people, You, in Your great mercy, stood by them in time of trouble. You defended them and vindicated them. You gave them the courage to meet their foes, to open the gates to those seeking refuge, and to free the land of its armed invaders. You delivered the many into the hands of the few, the guilty into the hands of the innocent. You have wrought great victories and miraculous deliverance for Your people Israel to this day, revealing Your glory and Your holiness to all the world.

– Al HaNisim for Yom HaAtzmaut, Siddur Sim Shalom, by Jules Harlow

Omer: Day 17 Tiferes shebbe Tiferes – Back to the Garden

Tiferes shebbe Tiferes: Beauty within Beauty

The epitome of beauty that speaks of harmony and balance within all of creation was present in the beginning within Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden). That harmony was disrupted, when Adam and Chava (Eve) partook of forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Up until that moment, the progenitors of humankind lived in a nondual world of blissful connection to G-d. Their relationship to Him was whole, and immersed in complete Oneness. They were at one with each other, and all of creation as well. Subsequent to their disobedience, the world became an admixture of good and evil.

Throughout history, these two forces often appeared in sharp outlines, discernible even to the casual eye, as well as the more carefully honed conscience. Today, the blur between good and evil that seems to have proliferated in the twentieth century is increasing to the point of concern, whereas the boundaries are no longer clearly marked in society. The prophet’s words apply, “woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that change darkness into light, and light into darkness; that change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter” (Isaiah 5:20, JPS 1917 Tanach).

The words of singer songwriter, Joni Mitchell, during the tumultuous 60’s still ring true, “We’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.” How so? Through bringing compassion towards a disharmonious world, beginning with ourselves. For G-d primarily expects His crowning achievement (humankind) to live lives that reflect His image. Mankind has fallen far since the days of yore; yet, recovery for the soul is still possible. With a sincere effort, a response will be elicited from Above.

[These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul)].

Yom HaZikaron: Israeli Memorial Day

May G-d remember the valiant men and women who braved mortal danger in the days of struggle prior to the establishment of the State of Israel and the soldiers who fell in the wars of Israel.

May the people of Israel cherish them in their memory; let them mourn the splendor of youth, the altruism of valor, the dedication of will and the dignity of self-sacrifice which came to an end on the battlefield.

May the loyal and courageous heroes of freedom and victory be sealed forever within the hearts of all Israel, in this generation and forevermore.

  • – Israeli Ministry of Foreign affairs, mfa.gov.il

Omer: Day 16 Gevurah shebbe Tiferes

B”H

Gevurah shebbe Tiferes: Power within Beauty

Strength must be modified, in order to be compatible with a specific end in mind. For example, gevurah as a measure of judgment in the form of an admonition, should be balanced by tiferes, for the sake of harmony in accord with the given situation. Opening a tin of sardines does not require as much strength, as prying open a car door with the jaws of life. So, it follows that correcting a student’s mistake in pronunciation, is less demanding than chiding a teenager for misbehavior.

For the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul), we should judge ourselves in a manner that is not too harsh, nor too lenient; rather, in way that would prove to be of the most benefit to the soul. Thus, a balance is necessary, in regard to how critical a person is of himself. A certain amount of positive self talk will compel a person to feel encouraged: yet, it is also necessary to critique thought, speech, and action, in hopes of being able to improve any faults in these areas.

Precisely because we are human beings, we may improve upon ourselves, by way of transcending any negative characteristics. Ultimately, harmony within the framework of mind, body, and spirit will lead towards the ability to excel in accordance with the design given to us by the Creator. Abraham Twerski points out that human spirituality is dependent upon the distinguishing characteristics of humans that make them different than animals.

These would include free will, i.e., volition, inclusive of the ability to use discernment, delay gratifications,and put others ahead of oneself in certain situations. Achieving harmony within ourselves sometimes requires prioritizing our needs,in favor of higher, more noble aspirations. The discernment of gevurah will assist on the road towards freedom from our lower nature, The heights of spirituality rest upon the decisions that we make for ourselves, that are most in accord with being truly human.

[These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul)].

Omer: Day 15 Chesed shebbe Tiferes

April 12, 2021

Love within Beauty

The quality of loving-kindness expressed in a harmonious manner as represented by tiferes is integral to lending a helping hand in time of need. True kindness is not measured, per se, by any limiting factors; yet, flows outward from a place of sincerity, knowing how to quench the emotional thirst of others, like a river following its natural course. Even so, the natural expression of loving-kindness is rare, especially when almost everyone’s source of inner kindness is being tested by trying times. Therefore, finding the right measure of kindness at the appropriate time, in harmony with the specific needs of others requires discernment.

If we are in harmony with ourselves; i.e., as so many others have said in various ways, we need to be kind to ourselves. To some degree how we treat others, may actually be reflecting how we treat ourselves. The commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) is considered a cornerstone of Jewish thought, through which all of the other commandments must be viewed. In respect to chesed shebbe tiferes, loving-kindness within harmony, the flowing out of love from a balanced place within an individual, can help to temper our efforts to do mitzvoth (good deeds), by tinging all that we do with a certain amount of kindness. In this manner, harmony may be either created or restored by always “keeping chesed in mind.”

[These are my personal reflections on the implications of today’s combination of middot (character traits). These reflections are not meant to be comprehensive, inasmuch that they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may these ideas be characterized as authoritative, because I profess to being a student, not a teacher. I hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul)].

Omer: Day 14 Malchut of Gevurah

sovereignty within strength

Wielding power from a position of authority requires discernment. The autonomy of the sovereign must reflect his own deference to G-d, for no one is above the law. Moreover, the sovereign must respect the autonomy of his subjects; and, not rule in a manner that diminishes their individuality and rights. Every human being is granted a certain amount of autonomy from Above. If G-d gives us free will, then we must also recognize the autonomy of our fellow human beings.

Omer: Day 13 Yesod of Gevurah

foundation within strength

The foundation of strength, from an integral standpoint, has to do with “moral constraint.” Gevurah is also associated with judgment; therefore, judging ourselves within the context of our foundational beliefs may compel us to see if we “measure up” to the standards that we would like to uphold in our lives. A proper assessment of our foundational strengths is necessary to test the integrity of the overall “structure” – the beliefs and presuppositions that our lives are based upon.

drash: parashas Shemini 5781

“And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and came out, and blessed the people; and the glory of the L-RD appeared unto all the people.  And there came forth fire from the L-RD.”

– Leviticus 9:23, JPS 1917 Tanach

On the eighth day of the inauguration for the mishkan (tabernacle), the “fire from the L-RD” consumed the offering. The offerings of that day included a calf as a sin-offering, of which commentary mentions atoned for Aaron’s role in the making of the golden calf.  Also, a goat as a sin-offering to atone for the people. Additionally, an olah, and the people’s shelamin – peace offering – as well as the daily morning Tamid offering.

The people had grown expectant, to the point of concern, over the previous seven days, in which Moses daily performed the inauguration service on his own. On the eighth day, corresponding to the first of Nissan, one year after leaving Egypt everything was in place; yet, still there was no fire from Shomayim (Heaven).

It was at this point, that “Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting.” One commentary explains, that when Aaron perceived that the offerings had been made, yet, the heavenly fire had not descended, he thought that H’Shem was angry with him.  Therefore, he and Moses entered the Tabernacle to pray; and, when they walked out, the fire descended. 

This impressive event, whereby, the “glory of the L-RD appeared,” and, the fire descended, elicited the people’s response to prostrate themselves on the ground – two million people in the desert, worshipping H’Shem, in this manner, expressing their “awe and gratitude.”

Baruch H’Shem (Praise G-d). Shabbat shalom.