haYom chamisha asar yom, sh’heim shnei shavuot v’yom echad, laOmer: chesed she b’tiferet

“loving-kindness and truth are met together”

occasionally the sod (deep kabbalistic meaning) springs to the surface. it is so here in Psalm 85 wherein the hebrew actually says that chesed and emet (a second name for tiferet) encounter each other. and the result is the ‘kissing’ of peace and righteousness, which again reveals the balance that is wrought by the interinclusions in tiferet. so strong is this tendency toward G’d’s truth in harmony, the the tzedek of gevurah and wholeness of chesed are cheek to cheek.  we end up with what we might call loving-righteousness, or compassion. this is the essence of  G’d’s truth, for it too has both the quality of overflowing exuberance and obligatory goodness….remember that in the phrasing of the attributes of the Holy One (Exodus 34:7), G’d proclaims that this is a singular middah ‘quality or trait’:

“….v’rav chesed v’emet….”

G’d is ‘abounding in kindness and truth’; G’d is the very essence of bounty, harvest almost without measure in this arena. so it was revealed to Moshe as he was held in the cleft of rock, from which perch he saw only G’d’s back…perhaps the knot of G’d’s t’fillin….the eternal reminder of the exodus from mitzraim.  since the time of Moshe, this view has been the “what to see” when one makes the stricture of totafot  between your eyes real. it is always the knot of G’d’s tefillin that we bring into view, focusing through both eyes on the letter dalet of the knot. we can’t see the t’fillin on our head, but we can call that dalet knot sighting to mind, courtesy of Moshe Rabbeinu.

so what does dalet have to do with the interinclusion of chesed in tiferet? what does it have to do with chesed and truth?  well, the very name “dalet” is cognate with the hebrew “delet” or ‘door’. the dalet letterform is said to be an open door. the word “dolim” means “needy ones” so whenever we see a dalet we are to be thinking about opening our door (p’raps the gates to our spirit) to the needy. the Maharal teaches that dalet, with a numerical value of 4 represents also the physical world (but also the 4 spirit worlds, see below) upon which we walk in the 4 directions, north, south, east and west…..which, of course, is why Avraham’s tent is open to all 4 directions, extending an open door to all who walk the earth: this is the omnidirectionality, the overflowing of chesed.

but the dal of doleh (needy) actually has a deeper meaning of uplifting. and also its opposite, ‘downletting’, if you will. when one goes to a well to draw water, one does “doleh doleh” (see Exodus 2:19) to draw water, ie, one lets down the bucket in order to bring water up from deep down in the earth. so dalet also reminds us of the up and down directions, so we have again our 6x6x6 of the cube…the shape of the t’fillin box, and the way of waving both the lulav and the omer. and the path of G’d extends up and down the tree of life via the sefirot.

but what about truth in all this? well, the downness of the bucket in the well is only to be raised up: the truth in the exodus is that G’d sent the People down so as to raise them up in aliyah to the Holy Land and the way of Torah. it was (and still is) the upness that is the reason for the downness. you want to see that explicitly?  well, the verse after the one about the meeting of chesed and truth with which we began this d’var says:

“truth springs out of the earth; and righteousness looks down from on high”

truth is G’d’s watchword. placed upon the clay of the golem, the word truth brings the earth to life. G’d’s truth is ever near to you here on earth…adam is taken from the earth and G’d’s truth is in humankind from formation. but as the Slonimer Rebbe pointed out to his chassidim: “truth jumps out of the ground as you walk, but you are too stubborn to bend down to reach for it.”  walk humbly, chevrei, see the dalet and answer the need “below” you, then gather ye the rosebuds of truth while ye may.

mussar for chesed she b’tiferet

chesed-tiferet with another….bein adam l’chaveiro   Hillel teaches (Ketuvot 17a) that one should always compliment the beauty of a bride, even if she is not beautiful to you, for she is certainly beautiful to the groom in so many way you cannot even imagine. there is no lie here. it is a truth born of empathy, of the chesed in tiferet, extending a kind eye to find a greater than mere surface ‘truth’.  seek the beauty in everyone you meet, for G’d’s truth springs out of each of us.

chesed-tiferet with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo    remember that truth is another name for the sefirah tiferet. at the end of the last paragraph of the Shema, we add the word “emet”, ‘truth’ to the last line of the verse: “I, the Lord, am Your G’d” “truth”. remember that in this truth is the balance, harmony and beauty of tiferet. so when preparing to say Shema before retiring to bed, consider where in your day now past you erred in balance, creating disharmony when you could have made greater beauty. resolve to do better today.

kabbalah for chesed she b’tiferet

in assiyah….the world of doing/completion   Moshe brought the teaching of dalet to us, but Miriam brought the well into which we must dip and raise up if we are to drink of the stream of Torah. tiferet is the sefirah of “rachamim” compassion, and “rechem” or ‘womb’ derives from the same root. it is by way of the watery womb of mothers that all of us come to walk on earth. how will you extend loving-kindness to all the women you meet today?

in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation   the Slonimer pointed out that even his chassidim stubbornly refused to look earthward and see the truth that constantly sprung up before them. is is so within the human psyche as well as outside it. we are so often busy measuring ourselves against external ideals that we fail to see the beauty within ourselves. reaching in is like looking down, contemplate your own beauty, it is your truth.

in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation   the dalet reminds to look 4 ways round and 4 ways up and down. but tiferet is a middle way, neither right nor left (though listing to starboard). the middle matzah is broken, representing the broken word of now and looking toward the afikoman, taken from now, only to be restored in the future. the middle way has a4th dimension, time. meditate on walkin’ humbly with G’d in time.

in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition    many today seem to look earthward with a scientific eye only, seeing the truth only of the physical and material. seeing the dust, but not the watchword of G’d that can make of clay a human. contemplate the leap from inanimate matter to animate matter. what truth springs out at you?

kinyan 15 of 48 ways to acquire Torah

Miyut Derech Eretz….Moderation in Worldly Affairs.  “this book of Torah shall not depart from your mouth; you shall meditate in the words day and night” (Joshua1:8)…..but also, “you shall gather your grains, your wine and your oil” (Deuteronomy 11:14).  well, which is it? do we study Torah all day or do we work all day?  can’t live without eating, so you gotta work. but what if you take the verse in Joshua literally?  keep the Torah constantly in your mouth…in thought and expression and deed….and you will find that your work itself is Torah as well. it isn’t one or the other but each in the other. your work informs your reading of Torah, and Torah informs your approach to the Way in work. the Besht teaches: “when a man prays largely for material benefits, his prayer of supplication is wasted. it forms a material curtain between G’d and himself because he has brought too much matter into the domain of spirit. he receives no ‘answer’ whatsoever.”