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)].

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)].

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.

Omer Day 12 – Something Greater

hod shebbe gevurah (humility within strength)

The humility of discipline, requires an acknowledgment of something greater than ourselves, so that we do not misuse our sense of power. There is only one authority in the world that is not of this world: the authority from Above. All other authorities must submit to Him. The more that we may try to act as an independent entity, without keeping G-d in mind, the less efficacy we will have in our endeavors. Even if G-d permits us to go our own way, the result will not be sanctioned by him, unless we realize through our misguided efforts, that something is amiss. By leaving G-d out of the equation in our lives, nothing will add up. Only through His splendor can we act in all humility, in recognition of His greater glory.

Omer: Day 11 Netzach of Gevurah – endurance of strength

Netzach of Gevurah

The combination of attributes, netzach within gevurah represents the endurance of strength through maintaining discipline over oneself, and unruly emotions as noted in Proverbs. Scripture, especially the insights found in Proverbs, may serve as a reflection on human behavior, as well as a prescription for right conduct. Thus to paraphrase Solomon, he who rules over his passions is greater than he who is able to conquer a city (Proverbs 16:32). For “he that ruleth his spirit,” through subduing negative emotions may succeed in understanding (Proverbs 16:32, 14:29). Otherwise, one might become like “a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

Keeping this in mind, it is interesting to note that netzach is also characterized as “victory.” The man Ghandi said, “Be the change that you want to be.” Sometimes it is better to focus on our inner battles, than to seek to be victorious over external circumstances that are beyond our control. I can work on changing myself for the better; hopefully, as a result, I will be in a position to positively effect others in a limited sphere of influence. Beyond that amount of impact, I recognize that I have very little sway over what occurs in the world at large. Netzach, further associated with the idea of “conducting” or “orchestrating” helps to keep me focused on my own sense of place, in relationship to the bigger picture, while recognizing that only G-d has the omnipotence to be all powerful.

Omer: Day 10 Tiferes of Gevurah – Balance of Strength

Finding the right balance within the framework of discipline is important. In regard to self-discipline, for example, within the regimen of an excercise routine, there should be a certain amount of time and effort spent in order to achieve an overall goal. Too much too soon might not be of benefit, and could even be detrimental to one’s own sense of well-being. The same is true in other arenas of life. Whether the social sphere, one’s vocation, or even a hobby, there should be a balance kept in mind. Overall, coordinating mind, body, and spirit endeavors is necessary as well, to stay in balance.

Omer: Day 9 gevurah of gevurah – restraint of might

The strength of gevurah relies on the ability to restrain oneself. “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city” (Proverbs 16:32). Yet, restraint of ourselves is key, not only for the benefit of our soul, also for the sake of being in a position to offer diplomatic relations to those who enter into conflict with us. Another effective saying to keep in mind is that “he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife” (Proverbs 15:18). We would do well to learn from the wise words of King Solomon, for our hearts are heavy with the burdens we face; yet, too often, we are tempted to respond to others in a reactive way, rather in a manner of restraint.

If I may further explain, by way of a concrete example too rampant today. We might have fallen prey to the divisiveness that permeates society, dividing people into subgroups of us and them; the bitterness that festers as a result of demonizing the other, will only further the perpetuation of the lack of harmony in our lives, especially when our thoughts and rhetoric approaches the vitriolic. Being critical of others, through an excessive expression of gevurah, has the potential to devolve into the creation of newly marginalized classes of people in society, that may be increasingly demonized through generalizations. In this manner, tyranny rules the heart (G-d forbid).