“before you ask G’d for something, first thank G’d for what you already have”
simple, quiet wisdom from Talmud, Brachot 30b. when you pile on compassion on top of empathy, something may well be prone to go all mavericky, and well-intentioned unwisely. all empathy and compassion of tiferet (compassion) in hod (empathy) may turn out a bit like Aharon’s disastrous effort to keep the erev rav (‘mixed multitude’ that wanted the golden calf) from going ballistic and leading to a bloodbath.
and if you pile beauty (tiferet) into splendor (hod) you may well find again that you will be prone to error like Shimshon’s, turning his nazirite status into a matter of outlandish shows of the strength he derived from the restraints of the nazirite way. of course, it turned out that he had an achilles hair…..
but bring truth and compassion (tiferet) into gratitude (hod) and you have a harmonious winning combination…and a sense of how much gratitude is right in any given situation. a sense that simply reminds you of a duty (thanks for what you have) before you go off extending that compassion further still. a making sure that you see the trees and not just the forest. going in and then out.
“praise G’d in his sanctuary; praise G’d in the firmament of G’d’s power”
from the small detail to the greater, from the concealed interior to the exposed exterior, as here in Psalm 150 is instructive, moving from the private to the universal. when G’d was in the Holy of Holies, only Aharon could encounter his force directly, and then only to give thanks and praise in the light and the incense. but in the firmament….loose in Creation….G’d’s power is available to all to sense and respond to. quiet beauty; public splendor….hod and tiferet spinning around each other.
and the psalm continues with a review of many different instruments and musical forms that can be used and harmonized for praise (hod), yet in the end, the universal comes to rule:
“let the voice of every neshamah (‘breathing soul’) praise G’d”
when tiferet interincludes in hod we see that everything contributes to the sustenance of each individual Creation. the whole is diminished with the loss of any one. and no one can survive without the life of the whole. once you understand this harmonious truth, is it really so difficult to love all neighbors? or to respect habitat for the sake of a small minnow living within it?
we are all quiet, more harmonious ‘musketeers’ it seems:
all for one and one for all
mussar for tiferet she b’hod
with another….bein adam l’chaveiro this would be a really good day to celebrate some other person’s simcha. reminding yourself of the gratitude you feel for all your own accumulated simchas should put you in a good frame of mind to celebrate another’s.
with oneself….bein adam l’atzmo is your home–inside and out–a suitable place for G’d’s Presence? spruce it up with THAT special guest in mind. and resolve to have the parchments in your mezuzot checked THIS spring…they mediate between the inside and the outside, after all, brining Torah to comings and goings.
kabbalah for tiferet she b’hod
in assiyah….the world of doing/completion sing out Psalm 150 today, then do a harmony to the melody line. consider how your mood changes. can you pull some nefesh and ruach into the hallelujah to join your neshamah?
in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation “all for one and one for all” can operate in time as well. contemplate your personal history. which details have contributed most to making you as you see yourself to be. how many are way old? how many are recent? can you find a way to add more recents?
in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation catalog your most beautiful, creative thoughts. now, do you feel humble? do you feel beautiful?
in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition Heschel speaks clearly of tiferet in hod often. where do you hear it herein:
“only grant me strong bright senses to bring happiness, to help, to hear the needs of even a pulse-beat. the call of any person!”
kinyan 31 of 48 ways to acquire Torah
Ohev et haTzedakot o haMeisharim…..Loving the Righteous Way. a teacher of mine once urged that every rabbi should learn brevity. divrei Torah should be only a few minutes….maybe 7 minutes for natural teachings and an additional minute for a more difficult supernatural idea. any longer is a meandering path, some will follow you into the woods, over streams, up and down hills, but most would prefer that the path be simple, more-or-less straight, and on a level plain. truth and righteousness are their own beauty….the simple explication is the splendor of Torah.