Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 8 of the Omer - Generous Restraint


The Sephirah of the Omer’s second week is Gevurah. Gevurah is power, expressed in restraint and boundaries and withdrawal.

In addition, the Sephirah of the first day of each Omer week is Chesed. Chesed is kindness which motivates a person to give of himself – physically, financially, emotionally – to another.

The combined Sephirah for Day 8 of the Omer is Chesed sheb’Gevurah, “generous restraint”.

Sometimes we withdraw ourselves from involvement with a particular person, or even with society as a whole. In particular, we might restrain ourselves in order to avoid enabling impropriety. As Pirkei Avot 1:7 teaches, אל תתחבר לרשע, one ought not join with a wicked person. (Rav Meshulam Roth, a major authority in Jewish law in the early State of Israel and a leader in Religious Zionism of the time, wrote key responsa on applying this principle in our own age. See Kol Mevaser 1:48 and 2:17.) Nonetheless, Chesed sheb’Gevurah teaches us that even when we withdraw from others, we must do it with a spirit of generosity rather than animosity.

The Sephirah counted on Motzaei Shabbat instructs us to withdraw from others when necessary, but to do so with kindness.

Have a great night,

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