Day 16: Gevurah she’b’Tiferet, Justice within Beauty
A wolf shall visit with a lamb, a leopard lie down with a kid.
A calf, young lion, and fatling together, and a little child shall guide them.
A cow and bear shall graze; their young lie down together. And a lion, like an ox, shall eat straw.
A baby shall play over a viper’s hole; and over an adder’s fang, a toddler shall extend its hand.
No one will do evil or destroy, anywhere on My holy mountain. For the land shall be filled with knowledge of the YHWH as water covers the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9).
COMMENT: This is a beautiful vision of animal friendship. And it’s also a metaphor for a beautiful human society. One grounded in “restorative justice”—right relationships.
But it’s not just a passive vision. Not just an ideal for us to contemplate. It also gives instructions for restoring relationship.
I give more information about how to decode those instructions in my book Mouth of the Donkey: Re-imagining Biblical Animals, final chapter. Here’s the short version:
Settlers behave as respectful guests on the land. (The leopard does change its spots!) Mothers from diverse backgrounds raise their children together. A new, unscarred generation leads. Fierce people from different places become friends. If someone makes an innocent mistake, no one responds with force. And everyone understands the value of peace.
This is a big vision. So, it’s easy to be skeptical. No wonder Isaiah first takes us into the world of fantasy! And invites us to picture animal friends. Maybe he thinks that will open our imagination, and allow us to dream big.
IDEAS. How are justice and beauty related? Poet John Keats writes, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty—that is all/ Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” What does this say to you? Does it seem true?
PRACTICES. What are you doing to bring about restorative justice —through your daily life practice or activist commitments? Would you like to do more, or do less but with more focus?
FEELINGS. How do you feel when injustice is done to you? When you see it done to others? How do you feel when you correct injustice? When you try but don’t succeed?
GOD. Do you have a personal vision of a just world? If so, do you feel the potential for it is inherent in our world? Do you imagine that it is somehow God’s vision?
About the Questions
These questions take off from the text above. And they also go deeper into the day’s reflections in the book Shechinah, Bring Me Home: Kabbalah and the Omer in Real Life.
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.