Omer: Day 20 – Building Wisely

Yesod shebbe Tiferes: Foundation within Beauty

(Otherwise rendered as foundation within harmony). What foundation have I built in order to bring harmony, meaning, and an overall sense of peace into my life? Am I the sort of person that permits myself “to go with the flow,” in hope that if I trust in the Universe, everything will work out for the best? Or, do I have a set of tangible principles, rules, and guidelines in my life, that governs my lifestyle, so that I might decide how to respond to the events in my life, rather than letting them passively shape me? Am I able to make wise decisions, based upon higher truths? Or do I go with the whim of my feelings, letting my emotions rule me instead?

The psalmist requests of the L-RD, that He show favor towards Zion, that He “build Thou the walls of Jerusalem” (Psalm 51:20, JPS 1917 Tanach). By analogy, this may be rendered as well for the sake of discussion, as the walls of our foundation that will preserve our inner sense of peace. The protective measures that we put in place to preserve our values, so that the sanctity of our lives is not diminished by outside factors. A strong foundation built upon wisdom is necessary, in order to navigate the challenges of life.

From where is your harmony derived in your life? Upon what kind of foundation do you build your peace of mind? Do you have a lasting peace of mind? Is there something that will contribute to the restoration of your soul, when you might be thrown off balance by the world? A strong foundation is a sure and lasting one, that will provide shelter from the storms of life. Harmony and inner peace must be maintained, through returning, and returning again, each and every day of our lives to our central focus in life. If our focus is on G-d, then true peace is attainable through His presence.

Omer: Day 19 Hod shebbe Tiferes – A Sure Peace

Hod shebbe Tiferes: Splendor within Beauty

(Otherwise rendered as humility within harmony).

Thus, one “role” of acquiring humility, in relationship to “peace of mind” is as follows: Humility may serve to temper a false sense of harmony within, by compelling a soul to recognize that any sense of inner peace is often fragile, especially if that peace is not drawn from a higher source. Are we willing to admit to ourselves, that we are dependent on many circumstances, needs, and expectations to maintain a sense of peace? To think otherwise may be an overestimation of one’s own ability to secure sure peace of mind with self and others.

Yet, if we would like to be able to transcend our dependence on the requirements that we set for ourselves, in order to bring us a peace that may actually be a fragile peace, then, through recognition of our limitations to secure this peace, we may humble ourselves before G-d, in acknowledgment of the everlasting peace that can provided through Him. “The L-RD will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11, JPS 1917 Tanach).

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.

note: 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.

note: 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

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. By way of analogy, 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. Every situation of admonition requires a unique degree of expression of gevurah.

Ona another note, 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 him or herself. 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.

note: 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. Regardless of the worlds demands upon the souls of individuals to conform to the “narrative norm,” the individual of integrity must seek inner liberty.

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 Endure the Challenges

Netzach of Gevurah endurance of strength

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.” 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 affect 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.