Today is five days of the Omer, הוד שבחסד, Hod ShebeChesed, Splendor of Love, Glory of Grace.
Often, people associate the word “grace” with Christianity. The word exists in Hebrew – חן, Chayn, which is a different from חסד, Chesed. The two words flow together in many prayers and poems. Chesed is often understood as God’s kindness and favor. When put into action by humans, it is often translated as lovingkindness; though it’s difficult to discern how that formulation is distinct from kindness.
The name of a sephira is a place-holder. One word can never describe its depths — we try to understand, clarify, and rectify each sephira over a seven day period of time. And yet, we should examine why we associate grace with Christianity. Is it because we think only Christians can experience God’s grace? Or is it because we have a tenuous relationship with God and don’t want to get too personal about an entity we might not believe in?
I fully believe that the sephirot are emanations of the Divine. That through the ten emanations, a person can come to a deeper understanding of the Unknowable. And yet, no human can fully understand the Source of Goodness. Though I cannot claim perfect knowledge, my rabbi and my logical brain agree on a few premises. As I learned from Rabbi Mordecai Finley, HaShem is not all-powerful, nor is HaShem all-knowing. I cannot believe in a God who had the power to stop the Shoah and chose to allow 11 million people to be slaughtered. I cannot believe in a God who chose a people a few millennia ago, only to allow 1/3 of them to perish. So, I don’t. But I do believe that I am not the cause of life. Though I gave birth, I am not the source of birth. The Cause of Being lies elsewhere. And in my pursuit of Goodness, Love, Justice, Truth, and Beauty — I encounter God and God’s grace.
All the words I offer to myself and to whomever reads these meditations are my attempt to understand the sephira in this moment as the person I am today. To be honest, I enter each night slightly terrified. Often, I want to say — read what I wrote last year.
Hod is more than glory or splendor. It is the pillar of prophecy taking root in the world. Hod and Netzach are the pillars of The Temple. When we sanctify our physical structures, when we dedicate our interactions to elevating one another. When we hold space for the holiness that surrounds us, we are using Netzach to increase Chesed in the world.
Is there a small voice inside you, pushing you towards a life of deeper meaning? Is there one habit you could change to make yourself more open to creating space for Goodness and Truth? How will you concretize the splendor of grace today? How will you manifest the glory of love?
Five Days of Omer 5778, concretizing the prophetic vision of love
Five Days of Omer 5777, when I struggled deeply to have a clear vision of Hod.