Omer: Day 26 – Resilience in Adversity

Hod shebbe Netzach: Splendor (Humility) within Victory (Endurance)

Hod may also be rendered as humility. The quality of humility in regard to endurance may be envisioned as a bamboo tree yielding to a strong wind in a storm, signifying, that endurance in the face of life’s challenges may also require resilience. When we are able to acknowledge our limitations in the face of adversity, then we may be compelled to gather inner strength. In other words, our limitations may compel us to renew our strength through a resilient spirit.

The splendor of hod represents the light of G-d, that shines upon us when we humble ourselves in respect to Him. (We mirror his light). By recognizing our limitations, we may receive His blessing to endure, with a little help from Above. Our resilience in the face of adversity may depend upon an added measure of assistance from outside of our own resources, in order to persist with any worthy endeavor. In G-d’s eyes, when we reach out to Him, we are being dependent in a good way.

note: The counting of the Omer serves as a spiritual journey. We are called upon to leave our own personal limitations behind us, as we travel on the path of freedom, away from the influence of negativity in our lives. This is a forty-nine day journey, a self improvement plan, between Passover and Shavuot. Each of the seven weeks corresponds to one of the seven middos (character traits) that we will have the opportunity to improve upon in our lives.

My personal reflections on each day’s combination of middot are not meant to be comprehensive; they are not based upon any one particular system. Nor, may my insights be characterized as authoritative, because I am a student, not a teacher. I simply hope to inspire others to delve into an exploration of their own personality, for the sake of tikkun hanefesh (rectification of the soul).

Blessing of Preservation

1st Aliyah parasha Vayechi

5783 – blessing of preservation

Both Manasseh and Ephraim both grew up in the royal household of Egypt. Yaakov, their grandfather, who is partially blind, asks who they are, when Jospeh brings them to him. On a deeper leve, his question may be construed as an inquiry into their character. Are their moral concomitant with the legacy of Abraham? Have they remained in their integrity as the sons of the righteous Joseph, who surely instructed them properly. Despite the surrounding idolatrous environment, are there adherents to the belief in the G-d of Israel? The answer to all of the above is yes, inasmuch that Yaakov’s blessing was for the sake of preservation, that they continue on the derech.

This blessing is performed every Friday evening when parents bless their sons. Implicitly, this blessing is meant to be a safeguard against undue influence from the less than ideal mores of society that are opposed to living a righteous life. Something we all face, in terms of this type of influence, the moreso, depending upon how much interaction we have with outside influences.

Peer pressure, while growing up, especially for those of us who have grown up in the secular world; and, other types of pressure today as adults at work, in social spheres, and at the hands of the misguided social justice warriors who use intimidation and condemnation as their means to compel or cancel others, who do not follow the narrative norm. Yet, Israel is a nation set apart from the nations.

A Test of Integrity

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine and he was the kohein (priest) of El (G-d) the Most High.” – Genesis 14:18

“Five possessions did the Holy Blessed One, set aside as his own in this world, and these are they: The Torah, one possession; Heaven and earth, another possession; Abraham, another possession; Israel, another possession; The Temple, another possession.” – Avos 6:9,

“G-d acquired these five possessions to serve as the instruments by means of which He can bestow His kindness and generosity on man, to let him rise to the lofty position of comprehending His greatness.” – Akeidat Yitzchak,

A tenth of all that Abraham retrieved from the five kings was given to Melchizedek; the remainder was considered properly tithed from the perspective of a later Torah injunction; yet, Abraham kept none of this, for his reward has to do with heaven and earth. Therefore, what has any man to offer Abraham? The King of Sodom’s riches would have been devoid of any spiritual blessing, since they would not have been bestowed upon Abraham by G-d; but, rather by man.

While it is true that blessings can be given to someone through men, according to G-d’s design, this would not have been the case, in regard to the loot that was recovered by Abraham, when rescued his nephew Lot, who was captured by the five kings. Why? Because Abraham was righteous, and “disdained profit gained through oppression” (Akeidas Yitzchak; That is to say, that he forsook the wealth that was rightly his according to custom in order to maintain his integrity.

Every now and then, we may find ourselves in a similar position, not necessarily having to do with possessions; rather, as pertaining to a challenge designed to test the integrity of our convictions. Our belief and practice, as well as the strength of our convictions must be tested, so that we are able to permit these to take root in actuality. The tests designed for Abraham, throughout the narrative of his life, as recorded in Torah, may also be understood this way.

“The L-RD trieth the righteous.” – Psalms 11:5, JPS 1917 Tanach