“her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace”
many of you will recognize this as the next to last line in the “etz chaim hi”, said as the Torah is returned to the ark. i read it as a proof text for permission to relax now and then in my errors of interpretation and understanding….or just the many errors of explication that i’ve made already (and will no doubt make more of) in this effort to share the sefirat haOmer. for even when the explanation doesn’t work, the study nonetheless happens…and that is Torah lishmah (‘study for its own sake’, understood to mean ‘for the sake of Heaven’) even without our intention when we err!
if yesterday was devoted to the force of netzach in breaking down barriers to compassion/balance/beauty, today, in hod, associated with humility/gratitude/splendor, we grow quiet in the face of compassion, balance, beauty and harmony that already surrounds us. it is always there; there is no place without it because all of Creation is a manifestation of G’d’s glory, and there is no where where that glory is not. G’d’s glory fills the earth.
but to understand hod in tiferet, splendor in beauty, we have to put away so much of our self. we are called “m’daber” in the rabbinic literature, ‘the talker’ for our proclivity to name and classify and analyze with exquisite subtlety in words all that catches our attention. we erect barriers in our efforts to understand more deeply. we are all-in-one machines that erect new barriers even in our process of stripping down to get closer to seeing another glimpse of G’d in nature….nature being the only aspect of G’d’s wonder that we can always grasp (if we are only awake). nature is the G’dstuff in which we live, the stuff of which we are….that we bluster through… over… around and beyond daily, every waking hour.
all the paths of Torah are pleasantness; all of them….even the broken, breaking, dissecting errant ways we sometimes derive are ultimately paths of peace. why? well, can you think of any self-understanding that comes without making mistakes? even pharaoh’s path was Torah, right? he quite literally descends to G’d, and with that descent comes freedom and peace, precisely as G’d intended all along.
but Chazal (rabbis of the talmuds) point out an even easier way. they teach that G’d created all with Torah….so everywhere you look is another path of Torah. and r’ nachman made the fields his place for Torah and prayer and meditation on G’d. everywhere. just look and see. and he also made clear that his every step was itself a step toward the Land of Israel, that is, the place of rectification and cleaving to G’d. every step is on a derech noam, on a ‘pleasant path’ toward the great good. just look and see.
it is hard to think of anything more beautiful than beauty…until you traverse the tree of life a little further and come to the splendor of beauty in quiet hod, beauty in thanks, in a smile without a word and without even the sound of a laugh. “hinei,” people….’behold’ all around you. it is all in hod. silent, eloquent, all a testament to the splendor and wonder of a G’d that gives us simple splendor in the grass…
why am i not a flower, a person-flower?
bless me, my spirit with tenderness instead of might.
to own smiles instead of words, and always bring light to the world.
to be able to give love, good fortune with my hair, like orchids.
and may my way through rooms be like finger-touches on piano keys.
tenderness, you ineffable name of G’d, be my image of G’d!
mussar for hod she b’tiferet
hod-tiferet with another….bein adam l’chaveiro i’ll bet that a lot of you welcome folks home from school and work with a pleasant “how was your day?” there is a little everyday compassion in that. but it might well be answered with the grumbles of daily disappointments and disaffections….or the disconnected minimalist “fine.” so get a little rad and reset the routine gently…..ask “what were the beauties, the wonders of your day?” if they can’t tell you, send them outside immediately to lay in the grass and look up, or down, or all aroun. at’ll fixem.
hod-tiferet with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo smile when you make a blessing today….no quick-get-it-out-of-the-way utterances, please.
kabbalah for hod she b’tiferet
in assiyah….the world of doing/completion baruch haShem, we are not only given to using words to make or find beauty. we decorate our living spaces. we spend lots of time getting just the right paint for a room’s walls, yes? and then what? we let our own creative work, our own engagement, recede into, well, wallpaper as we direct our attention to the television, the radio, the internet (well, yes, even this blog), hanging on the distracting and novel and noisy and sparkly. we consume without a lick of appreciation. go back to your own spark of creation in your place and remember why you so loved a particular paint for a wall, or a painting or a vase, or even the order that you impose in your cabinets in how you put your dishes away, or how you insist the dishwasher should be stacked…..it is all your sense of beauty and order at work. pleasant ways are found therein. don’t be unmindful of it!
in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation every year the garden brings forth changes. changes in what you planted…changes in the volunteers that have taken root….changes in expression of abundance. remember the blooms of a previous year. compare them to this year’s early arrival of almost everything. be grateful for the variety that continues to enrich the order of your garden. and let your ruach flit with joy.
in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation pray from a siddur today (if you can read this, you can find one online if need be) and try to be mindful of the ‘order’ (“seder”) of the prayers. compose a brief transitional explanation or 2 for yourself. or read this week’s parshah for shabbat, mindful of the fact that the selection that is the week’s ‘portion’ is itself an ordering of words. be grateful for the words and for those who took great care in ordering their use for the betterment of your spirit.
in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuituition get out in the fields and forests like r’ nachman and the Besht. listen. pray. try to return the birds’ calls. see if you can see the Presence of G’d in the hiddenness of his nonCreation nature….G’d is not made of Creation stuff….but all of Creation is of made of G’dstuff. as you are looking, remember that every move you make, every breath you take, G’d will be watching you….
kinyan 19 of 48 ways to acquire Torah
Miyut S’chok….Moderation in Levity. Ben Sira 21:20–“a fool raises his voice in laughter; the wise smiles in silence”