haYom sh’losha u’sh’loshim yom, sh’heim arba’a shavuot v’chamisha yomim, laOmer: hod she b’hod

“vayidom aharon…..Aharon was silent/still”

“dom” (‘still, stillness’) is an unusual word in Torah. it is used, as in Aharon’s reaction to the death of his sons Nadav and Abihu, to indicate a deep-seated, almost paralyzed state of nonreaction.  Aharon’s sons died offering “strange fire” before G’d, offering the ketoret (‘incense’) that was the special offering for atonement, and for joy.  why did they die?

Moshe tried to urge Aharon to consider their deaths as holy-proofs of the nearness of the Cohanim to G’d. they were so dear to him that they were “called home” as folks like to say.  Aharon’s response to Moshe’s urgings was “dom”, utter stillness.

we see the same phrase used in the book of Joshua:

“vayidom shemesh…the Sun was still/silent”

where it is usually translated as “stood still”. the point is the stillness, utter stillness in the heavens (the moon stood still too later after the sun “revived”.  of course, this is exactly what Joshua had told the celestial bodies to do.

we see it used in an opposite fashion in Psalm 22:3:

“i call out by day, there is no answer; by night, but there is no respite for me”

“there is no respite for me” is ‘lo dumiyah li’, another form of “dom” meaning stillness.

there are times when one needs stillness, a silence beyond simple noise suppression, and the spirit trait involved therein is hod in hod.  this interinclusion is sometimes called “passive” but that is too light a wordsense….we are talking about “dom” here. a stillness that examines only its own silence….actively passive, if you will.  even receiving is shut down. it is the state of being unreachable at all. so why do we call it a character trait that we want to cultivate? well, it is the stillness that is needed for true hitbodedut (‘solitude or meditation’). solitude is a positive state in judaism, just as valid as minyan and kahal, but only for selective use. in your prayers, you may strive for solitude that drives your words only through your soul without even speaking them…ultimately moving into a meditative state wherein words are not even the medium of communication.

solitude, silence, stillness are a trio increasingly difficult to come by in our overcommunicative, overentertaining world.  we should look at the chace to put away clutter in time as well as in space….else we will never hear the still small voice of G’d. hod in hod is the root of patience, of tolerance, even of moderation, for it is the key to banishing “fullness” and embracing “emptiness”.

mussar for hod she b’hod

with another….bein adam l’chaveiro    learn patience in silence. when you run into a difficulty today, instead of replying, just be still.don’t even count to 10.

with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo    dress down today. no ostentatious clothing…if you adorn at all, just get your hair cut (it is lag b’Omer, after all), but nothing else. be visually still.

kabbalah for hod she b’hod

in assiyah….the world of doing/completion   find a silent mitzvah to do today. Bava Batra 8b suggests that “to ransom prisoners is a splendid act of piety”.  contribute to a legal defense fund that assists prisoners in getting DNA testing to demonstrate their innocence…DNA is silent until it is listened to.

in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation    silence is first, but listening is second.  trim yourself back today. if you have known mourning, recall that time, and reassess the value of stillness to let you hear what may be said to you in such a time.

in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation    take Psalm 22 to heart and create some stillness today. turn off the radio, the tv, the internet, and whatever other entertainment appliances you are accustomed to consuming from give yourself a space and time of stillness. what comes to mind in the space liberated from the din?

in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition    Heschel teaches “to have faith is to perceive the wonder that is here”.  faith itself is a stillness in space and time….what does faith hear?

kinyan 33 of 48 ways to acquire Torah

Ohev et haTochachot….Loving Reproof.  it is a mitzvah to gently point out to someone that they are wrong, or have done wrong. it takes netzach in hod to do it often, but sometimes silence itself is a reproof. but care must be taken to ensure that the silence is not misunderstood.  it is also important to consider whether the person you are trying to guide will have the space within which to hear….else the mitzvah cannot be accomplished—

“don’t reprove a scoffer, for they will hate…..

reprove instead a wise man, and he will love you”


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