Chesed: Love. Tiferet: Beauty. Chesed she’b’Tiferet: The love in beauty. Love that sees beauty. And love that seeks beauty.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” At the simplest level, this means we all find different things beautiful. When we love someone, for example, they seem beautiful to us. Like my cat Koi. He’s an ordinary-looking orange tabby. And, at age 16, he’s got some scars. But, to me, he is still the most beautiful cat in the world.
But the phrase has deeper meanings too. It focuses on “the eye of the beholder.” On the inner experience of beauty. The sudden sense of peace that rushes in. Makes you certain that this little part of the world is perfect. And that maybe the whole world could be perfect too. You yearn for perfection, even as you’re surrounded by it. It sounds self-contradictory, but it feels just right.
This sounds a lot like the experience of love. At least, that’s how Plato describes it in his book Symposium. Love, he says is a longing to see beauty forever.
I’m a parent of young adult children. And I love them deeply. So I find them very beautiful. I want to see them forever—literally. Thus, I would love for them to stay close. But I also want them to find their own beauty. Their own partners, passions, paths. For that, they need some distance.
Really, I want them to be close and far at the same time. This also sounds self-contradictory. But, really, it’s not. It’s just a delicate juggling act. I want them to know how precious they are to me. And also how fully I trust them. (Even when I don’t.)
So, often, I ask myself these questions. In their times of distress, am I available enough? Supportive, but without solving their problems for them? In their times of joy, am I interested enough? Asking them just the right questions, but not too often?
I hope my children find our family love beautiful. I want them to feel that this little corner of the universe is safe. And thus the rest could be safe too.
Today is the 15th day of the Omer, two weeks and one day.
New to the Omer count? Here’s a primer.