Today is three days of the Omer. תפארת (אמת) שבחסד, Tiferet (Emet) ShebeChesed, Beauty / Truth of Love / Grace.
When you harmonize the all encompassing love of Chesed with the Discipline of Gevurah, you experience beauty and from that beautiful merger, truth emerges. There are many levels of truth; the truth found in Tiferet, in Beauty, speaks to your soul, pierces your shell, focuses you on what really matters.
When your Love includes empathy, you’ve encountered the Tiferet of Chesed. When you are able to speak and act from love regardless of how others act, you are living the Tiferet of Chesed.
If you are a giving person, you probably feel like this describes your essence. And yet, it is always possible to lean too far into a soul trait. Tiferet is about balance. While it softens the judgements of Gevurah, it does not annihilate them. Remember that empathy does not mean acquiescing. Tiferet of Chesed does not mean giving without acknowledging your own needs, rather it leads to overflowing love that supports both you and the object of your love.
Empathy means stepping back from your immediate reaction to a situation and considering the scene from alternative viewpoints. It means that when a toddler is crying and refusing to follow directions, you should take a breath. Rather than getting caught up in your embarrassment that your kid is making you look like a fool, think through what could be going wrong for the kid: is she tired? Hungry? Over stimulated? Fearful? Empathy will help you connect and redirect her energy towards the desired outcome.
If it wasn’t obvious yet, I am using this time to reflect on how to become the parent I want to be. I have a lot of trouble slowing down and staying present and empathetic with small humans.
I also have a strong tendency toward Gevurah. My husband is my Chesed. While I hope I’ve learned a bit from his example, I also feel a responsibility to protect him from his tendency towards selfless giving. We all need space to grow and nourish our own creativity.
May we each practice empathetic listening today. May we approach each interaction with others as an opportunity to model truthful love, beauty, and grace. May we speak kindly to each person we encounter, regardless of what they do. May our presence help others find the truth they are seeking. And may our actions help reveal the grace and love that surrounds us all.