of hod: sefirat haShavua 5

“our G’d and G’d of our fathers”

we say this daily at the beginning of the Amidah prayer. but how many realize that in this short phrase is a reference to netzach (dominance, ambition, strength, endurance) and hod (empathy, humility, reserve, and splendor).   Chazal refer to these 2 as the pillars of faith, parallel to the twin pillars of Boaz and Jachin in the Beit haMikdash (‘first temple’).  the right pillar is also associated with Moshe..so “our G’d’ is thought to represent the truth of Moshe and his prophecy, the only prophecy to be sought out and chosen (as must be in the concept of “our” G’d).   the left pillar is associated with Aharon, and Boaz, whose faith brought the most famous convert of all to join the People: Ruth of course, out of whose line David and the Moshiach would evntually come.  and the left pillar, pillar of hod, is associated with all the other prophets, all of whom “received” prophecy without seeking it out….indeed often trying to avoid it.

the phrase “G’d of our fathers” (G’d of our Foreparents works just as well) indicates our receiving the Torah and the tradition, including the baal peh (‘oral tradition’). the prophecy of hod is the kabbalah of hod….in receipt, not hunting, chasing or going up to get it. it is brought to the rest of the prophets, it is time and again said to have “come’ to the propet….literally put into the mouths of many, Jeremiah going so far as to relate that he was seduced to prophecy by G’d.

hod is the bitachon (‘confidence’) of “this too is for the good”. it abides but never dominates. in hod also we see the power of silence, and how it is as great as the power of voice. that in hod is the power of hiddenness, but also the juncture through which the dark side draws its strength. where humility draws toward invisibility, it errs and becomes power for the dark forces.   where silence of power becomes inability to speak out, again, hod feeds into the darkness. hod in proper relationship to G’d is the new moon, the barely visible sliver, the time of atonement where the light of humankind is less bright that the light of G’d may thereafter grow greater to wholeness. as they say, a full cup cannot be further filled….even so the full moon must wane to renew and regrow.

hod is also the last stop on the left side of the sefirotic tree. from hod all goes to the center and becomes balanced. it is the epitome of binah, and it is in the fullness of understanding that is received by hod from the rest of the tree that foundation can be set and sovereignty be built.

perhaps this is because hod is literally praise by way of ‘thanks’. and there is no more complete wisdom than that. and to the degree that we as a people remember to acknowledge and be thankful to G’d for all, to that degree are we wise, and deserve our name (Targum Yonatan on Genesis 29):

yehudah….odeh et haShem….because from this my son shall come forth kings….who shall give thanks to G’d

hod is the sefirah in which the levels of temimut come into play. temimut is ‘sincerity’, a real ‘seriousness’ in your devotion to G’d. it is very simple and straightforward, hence a ‘yehudi hu tam’, ie, a real jew is simple…not simple as in simpleton, ch’v, but simple in his understanding and acknowledgement of G’d. it isn’t some sort of religious rocket science….and it needn’t be particularly nuanced. a jew should give thanks to G’d for life and all it entails.

we will encounter 3 levels of temimut this week: temimut haratzon (‘of the will’); temimut halev (‘of the heart’, devotion); temimut hama’aseh (‘doing of mitzvot in all details’). this sincerity is as easily seen as the victory of netzach, but it is the practice of holding something in reserve…literally “tsniut” (‘reserve’) is the way we are to walk with G’d….not the modesty of covering, or even humbly, though both are aspects, but by using only what is necessary, holding back the other and great strengths of spirit which we possess….with a sincere spring in out step, revealing the mere presence of the muscularity of spirit that is ever ready within.

hodu laShem ki tov….thanks to G’d for the good

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