of tiferet: sefirat haShavua 3

“beauty is truth, truth beauty. – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

cold pastoral indeed, mr keats. there is but little compassion in your grecian urn. but kabbalah does agree that truth and beauty are of a kind in the sefirah of tiferet. along with splendor, balance, harmony and most importantly, compassion. indeed, we might map truth to gevurah in its justice and beauty to chesed in its sunny generosity, exquisitely balanced in tiferet, the middle way between the two. nor hard to starboard, nor hard to port, but steady as she goes.

but judaism looks at the beauty-truth identity a little differently. r’ Kook teaches that “truth is not revealed to man bit by bit, but in a total appearance all at once.”  remember that truth is the watchword of G’d. in the Torah, we do not see G’d revealed bit by bit, but rather the G’dly.  the way of G’d is revealed bit by bit, or acquired by us bit by bit in study and practice, but G’d himself is all there at once. the bush doesn’t smolder before it begins to burn, it is already burning. when G’d reveals himself to Moshe, he is already past when Moshe is able to see…..only from behind to we grasp the truth. it must spring up before us, as does G’d.

and beauty also is in time. consider Ecclesiastes 3:11: “G’d has made every thing beautiful in its time….”  beauty is given to everything, but not eternally (sorry mr keats)…only in its time. how like Kohelet to urge ‘a time to be beautiful, a time to be beautiful not so much…”

the emphasis is in the moment,  for compassion, the harmonized truth and beauty, is of the moment only, though the effects of compassionate action trail off into eternity and into all the worlds. there is a time when each compassionate act will have its opportunity, one opportunity in time for each act and one time only, and you don’t want to miss any of them. so cultivate the  attitudes of compassion, empathy and sympathy, avoiding the extremes of correct justice and overflowing kindness. in each of those sefirot, the focus is on the sefirah’s nature and not on the circumstance in time. in compassion there can be no generality of kind or concept. compassion is of the moment, and like the cherry blossom, must be observed (in action) right then and there….

“….G’d has given the world/eternity/hiddenness/enigma into their heart, so that man cannot comprehend the work that G’d has done from beginning to end….G’d always seeks the pursued”

and what is it we are to pursue? righteousness, the blending of chesed and gevurah. the doing of compassion in its in-the-moment splendor.  the problem, mr keats, is that you didn’t know tiferet:

“beauty is truth, truth is beauty, in the moment of compassion”

“….that is all ye can know on earth, and all ye need to know.” pursuit of THAT MOMENT is what G’d always seeks.

so, what do you think?

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