This is the day of Tiferet within Hod, balance within humility. On this day, I think about what it means to lead a life in the spirit of the prophet Micah who said, "God has told you, humanity, what is good and what Adonai seeks from you: That you do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). This day we seek the balancing point between doing what is right and doing it with kindness. We discover the true meaning of humility in accepting the obligations of justice and love.
This week's Torah portion (Bechukotai) describes the rewards for living such a life, and the punishments for not living such a life. The portion easily can be understood as a simple description of the way that God showers favor on those who do what is right and dispatches slings and arrows against those who do what is wrong. But I think the text is more complex than that.
The Torah says that, if you follow God's laws, "You shall give chase to your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword" (Leviticus 26:7), but that if you do not follow God's laws, "You shall flee though none pursues" (Leviticus 26:17). Why would anyone run away if nobody is chasing them?
This is not a prediction of God sending physical, material punishments against the wicked, rather it is warning of the mind-set that is the natural consequence of straying from the path of a good life. The Torah tells us that if we live lives of anger unbalanced by love, or of indulgence unbalanced by discipline, our outlook on the world will be dominated by fear, jealousy, violence and despair. We become the authors of the punishment that enters our lives when we fail to walk humbly with our God.
On this 31st day of the Counting of the Omer, I commit to accepting all that is in my life with equal measures of compassion and judgment. With modesty and humility, I seek to live according to the path that has been set for me.
May this be a day in which you find peace as you make your life a song of justice and love.
For the introduction to the Counting of the Omer, click on this link:
The First Day of the Counting of the Omer