Hod: Two Philosophers, Two Qualities

Cosmic-Consciousness“To you God, belongs greatness, strength (gevurah), beauty (tiferet), eternity (netzach) and splendour (hod), because…well, everything in heaven and on earth!”

So says King David on the day he commissions his son Solomon to build the Temple in Jerusalem (I Chronicles 29:11).

These words echo through the names of the sefirot. Synagogue-goers chant them before reading from the Torah scroll. And they inspired several Jewish philosophers to reflect on how the human psyche touches God.

Like King David, Judah Abrabanel (d. 1535) is awed by “the heavens in all their splendour.” Many of us experience this awe while stargazing. We see faraway lights, bringing us information about events eons old. Our minds stretch to grasp the enormity of our universe. As Abrabanel says, our physical sight awakens a higher perception we call insight. This flash of insight is a rush of love for the Divine — brought to you by splendour.

The core spiritual responsibilities of a Jew, says Moses Maimonides (d. 1204), are to love God and to know God. The embodied wisdom of the created world makes them easy. We simply live, experience, and contemplate. Gratitude and humility become basic inner postures, part of our sense of being in this world and, eventually, deeply felt proofs of God’s presence.

The word hod itself, points to gratitude. Seven times, the Psalmist says, “Give thanks (hodu) to God, because God is good” (Psalms 110:1; 118:1, 118:29, 131:1, 131:2, 131:3, 131:26). And how do we know God is good? “Because,” says Maimonides “heaven and earth!”

What kinds of splendour move you to insight, gratitude, or humility? Can everything on earth and in heaven uplift you, or teach you? Where do you get stuck? What kind of tikkun, corrective action, could move you?

Image: philosophers-stone.uk

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