Harmony and Compassion
During the third week of Counting the Omer, we examine the emotional attribute of Tiferet or compassion. Tiferet blends and harmonizes the free outpouring love of Chesed with the discipline of Gevurah (discussed last week). Tiferet possesses this power by introducing a third dimension – the dimension of truth, which is neither love nor discipline and therefore can integrate the two. Truth is accessed through selflessness: rising above your ego and your predispositions, enabling you to realize truth. Truth gives you a clear and objective picture of yours and others’ needs. This quality gives Tiferet its name, which means beauty: it blends the differing colors of love and discipline, and this harmony makes it beautiful.
Day 15 – Chesed of Tiferet: Lovingkindness in Compassion
Examine the love aspect of compassion. Ask yourself: Is my compassion tender and loving or does it come across as pity? Is my sympathy condescending and patronizing? Even if my intention is otherwise, do others perceive it as such? Does my compassion overflow with love and warmth; is it expressed with enthusiasm, or is it static and lifeless?
Exercise for the day: When helping someone extend yourself in the fullest way; offer a smile or a loving gesture.
Day 16 – Gevurah of Tiferet: Discipline in Compassion
For compassion to be effective and healthy it needs to be disciplined and focused. It requires discretion both to whom you express compassion, and in the measure of the compassion itself. It is recognizing when compassion should be expressed and when it should be withheld or limited. Discipline in compassion is knowing that being truly compassionate sometimes requires withholding compassion. Because compassion is not an expression of the bestower’s needs but a response to the recipient’s needs.
Exercise for the day: Express your compassion in a focused and constructive manner by addressing someone’s specific needs.
Day 17 – Tiferet of Tiferet: Compassion in Compassion
True compassion is limitless. It is not an extension of your needs and defined by your limited perspective. Compassion for another is achieved by having a selfless attitude, rising above yourself and placing yourself in the other person’s situation and experience.
Am I prepared and able to do that? If not, why? Do I express and actualize the compassion and empathy in my heart? What blocks me from expressing it? Is my compassion compassionate or self-serving? Is it compassion that comes out of guilt rather than genuine empathy? How does that affect and distort my compassion? Test yourself by seeing if you express compassion even when you don’t feel guilty.
Exercise for the day: Express your compassion in a new way that goes beyond your previous limitations: express it towards someone to whom you have been callous.
Day 18 – Netzach of Tiferet: Endurance in Compassion
Is my compassion enduring and consistent? Is it reliable or whimsical? Does it prevail among other forces in my life? Do I have the capacity to be compassionate even when I’m busy with other activities or only when it’s comfortable for me? Am I ready to stand up and fight for another?
Exercise for the day: In the middle of your busy day take a moment and call someone who needs a compassionate word. Defend someone who is in need of sympathy even if it’s not a popular position.
Day 19 – Hod of Tiferet: Humility in Compassion
If compassion is not to be condescending, it must include humility. Hod is recognizing that my ability to be compassionate and giving does not make me better than the recipient; it is the acknowledgment and appreciation that by creating one who needs compassion G-d gave me the gift of being able to bestow compassion. Thus there is no place for haughtiness in compassion.
Do I feel superior because I am compassionate? Do I look down at those that need my compassion? Am I humble and thankful to G-d for giving me the ability to have compassion for others?
Exercise for the day: Express compassion in an anonymous fashion, not taking any personal credit.
Day 20 – Yesod of Tiferet: Bonding in Compassion
For compassion to be fully realized, it needs bonding. It requires creating a channel between giver and receiver; a mutuality that extends beyond the moment of need. A bond that continues to live on. That is the most gratifying result of true compassion.
Do you bond with the one you have compassion for, or do you remain apart? Does your interaction achieve anything beyond a single act of sympathy?
Exercise for the day: Ensure that something eternal is built as a result of your compassion.
Day 21 – Malchut of Tiferet: Nobility in Compassion
Examine the dignity of your compassion. For compassion to be complete (and enhance the other six aspects of compassion) it must recognize and appreciate individual sovereignty. It should boost self-esteem and cultivate human dignity. Both your own dignity and the dignity of the one benefiting from your compassion.
Is my compassion expressed in a dignified manner? Does it elicit dignity in others? Do I recognize the fact that when I experience compassion as dignified it will reflect reciprocally in the one who receives compassion?
Exercise for the day: Rather than just giving charity, help the needy help themselves in a fashion that strengthens their dignity.
This is an excerpt from “Counting the Omer – A Spiritual Guide” by Rabbi Simon Jacobson. This unique book is now available at our online store.