Day 6: Yesod she’b’Chesed, Foundation of Love
What is the foundation of love? Sometimes it’s a freely given act of care.
TEXT STUDY: Good Angels
If a person does one mitzvah (good deed), they acquire for themselves an advocating angel. … Every gathering that is for the sake of heaven is destined to endure. (Pirkei Avot 4:11).
What is an advocating angel? Someone who supports your case in the heavenly court. But what is the heavenly court? It is a hidden dimension of reality. And it determines how our visible reality turns out. You might call it a moral reality. Here, our good intentions matter. If we genuinely desire the good of others, then we succeed. We lay a strong foundation for the future.
But how can I understand this psychologically? As a realm of consciousness? Maybe the “heavenly court” is the realm of feelings. In his book on Kabbalah, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz calls feelings “angels.” And this makes sense to me. Because feelings do send messages. Our own feelings motivate us to act. And feelings are contagious. Our moods affect others. Sometimes, the good feelings we project encourage others to do good. And then, sometimes, good actions establish more good feelings.
For Omer day 6, the book Shechinah, Bring Me Home: Kabbalah and the Omer in Real Life. tells a beautiful story of feline friends and human neighbours. Here, a friendship between cats motivates humans to acts of kindness.
Doing. How have you used small acts of love to create community? Did you draw on familiar rituals? Or improvise anew?
Knowing. Think of non-human species, in your home or neighbourhood. What do love and friendship look like in other species you know? How do they bond?
Feeling. Has a stranger helped you through a difficult time? Have you helped a stranger in this way? How did it make you feel? What was created between you, and inside you?
Experiencing God. Do you imagine (or experience) God as love, or as a loving being?
About the questions
There are many ways to explore these questions. You can: Tell a story from your own life. Give an example from a book or a movie. Write a poem. Analyze a concept. Offer a definition. Draw a picture. Sing a song.
New to the Omer? Here’s a guide to the theory and practice.
Notes on the text
The characterization of angels is adapted from Steinsaltz’s book The Thirteen Petalled Rose. Specifically, from his description of the world of yetzirah (formation or feeling). The quotation is from Pirkei Avot, a text of Mishna (c. 200) that teaches foundational ethical principles.