Tiferet. Beauty. Some say balance. Because on the tree of sefirot, love and judgment both flow into it. Tiferet sits in the middle, like a perfectly balanced heart.
Hod. Literally, splendor. Also, almost literally, gratitude. What’s a perfect balance between those two definitions? Some say it’s humility.
Tiferet she’b’hod. Finding balance through humility.
Okay, I’m working on it.
Sometimes I know I’m splendid. I have strong self-esteem. And I do many things well.
But sometimes I’m terrified. Because others depend on me, and I know I failed them. My cat should be healthier, my husband happier, my student’s work better.
And then I swing back and forth between these extremes. Confident one day and anxious the next.
Of course my therapist would say: draw better boundaries. You are not responsible for their health, skills, or inner lives.
Well, that’s one way to find balance: be more self-sufficient. But what if there’s another way? An exact opposite way.
What if I notice how much I depend on others, too?
Before I eat, for example, I always give thanks to God for feeding me. Sometimes I use the traditional Jewish formula, “Bless you God…who brings forth bread from the ground.”
But I know the formula is a shorthand. Because a lot goes on before a seed in the ground becomes bread on your table.
Old plants decay in the ground. Insects till the soil. Farmers and investors plan. Workers sow, tend, harvest, in vehicles built by factory workers and maintained by mechanics. Millers turn seed into flour with their machines. Then, someone sells the flour, others ship it, still others bake it in businesses large and small. Finally, I buy it and (ideally) everyone gets back just enough to keep doing their work.
See how important I am? The whole system turns on my little act. And see how unimportant I am, too? I’m just a little act in a big system.
Yes, my little fails affect the system. But they don’t break it. Yes, my contribution makes a difference. But my talents don’t uphold the world.
And that’s humility.
Today is Day 31 of the Omer, i.e, four weeks and three days.
New to the Omer count? Here’s a primer.