Chesed. Divine love. Hod. Divine splendor. Chesed she’b’Hod. The love that’s part of divine splendor.
Can I start out sermonizing? Just a little bit? About one of my favourite parts of Torah? If I promise to come back to real life at the end?
Moses says to God, “Show me your Presence.” God says, “No one can see me and live. But I’ll show you what follows me!” So God puts Moses in a safe rocky shelter and then passes by. Someone—God or Moses, the text isn’t clear—calls out. “God, compassionate, gracious, patient, full of love and truth!”
Love is a direct revelation of God. It’s what we see right after God passes by.
Isn’t that obvious?
Well, sometimes it is. Like when I was quite sick a decade ago. Pain had worn down my spirit. So I didn’t think much of myself. And I cried, often. Until I remembered: my mother loves me. Not because I am good, or pretty, or healthy. But just because I exist.
And that’s what people mean by Divine love. Love beamed your way, simply because you exist. You do nothing to earn it. And you can’t lose it.
But sometimes, love doesn’t feel divine at all. Because often, when people love, it’s not so pure. They love an image of you. And then, one day, they discover: you don’t look like the image at all. So they insist that you change. Because you owe them that much. After all, they love you.
Divine love is my ideal. I guess that’s obvious.
But I’m not so good at it. Because sometimes the people I love annoy me. Or disappoint me. And then, I want them to change. Yes, change takes work, but I expect them to do it. Why? Because I love them. And thus they should love me. And to show it, they should change.
This is silly, I know. And unrealistic. Maybe even cruel. But it seems hard just to accept everyone as they are. To figure out what to ask for and what to let go.
How can I get better at it?
Today is the 29th day of the Omer, four weeks and one day.
New to the Omer count? Here’s a primer.