What to Wear?

This is Tiferet week  in our counting of the Omer (CLICK HERE for an overview from Reb Zalman on the counting).  The following notes from Zalman’s 1994 Elat Chayyim class, “The Next Rung,” will help you with ways to connect to Chesed, Gevurah and Tiferet.  Gabbai Seth Fishman (BLOG Editor)

The word “Tiferet” is generally understood in terms of Rachamim / Mercy, because it doesn’t have an attitude-association otherwise.  So we need to make it more concrete and we further explain it as being associated with Rachamim.

From the morning Torah service, we sing, L-cha Hashem hagedulah v’hagevurah v’hatiferet v’hanetzach v’hahod / Yours, God, is the greatness, the strength, the splendor, the triumph and the glory (I Chronicles 29:11).  It gives the impression God is a big-shot. 

HaGedulah / largesse, from the word gadol [is associated with Chesed].   

HaGevurah / mighty, from the word gibor.  What kind of strength is gevurah?  The gibor is the one who is able to contain himself; the one who is really able to exercise control over himself, whether through policy or law.

HaTiferet, we understand as rachamim / mercy.  Chesed is often pointed to by ahavah / Love, Gevurah by pachad / fear, as in Pachad Yitzchak / fear of Isaac, [a common appelation for God in the siddur, which connects Yitzchak with Gevurah], and Tiferet by Rachamim / mercy. Tiferet is a balance between Chesed and Gevurah and we can think of Rachamim / mercy in this way too.

A Chesedike teacher might have lots of fun with his students, but not much learning of the difficult things.

A Gevuradige teacher might ask, “Why didn’t you stand in deference to my knowledge and wisdom.  I’m your teacher,” taking a zrok mara b’talmidim (lit. cast bile, i.e., austere to the students), making them respect:  “I will not take a lot of nonsense.  Whoever is not here on-time, tough!  I’m locking the door.”

A Tiferetige teacher might come in with a sense of Kavod, respecting the students and coming from that place of respect, wanting to teach them.   He asks everything of his heart and presence to enter along with him and doesn’t hold back, establishing a sense of  “Yes” with his students. 

(From Kaddish):  Yitbarach, V’yishtabach, V’yitpaar, V’yitromam, V’yitnase. Yitpaar (same root as Tiferet, tav-fey-aleph-resh-tav), has a sense of being overwhelmed by “the presence.”  There is a sense of beauty and also one of majesty.  Majestic beauty and presence.  This comes from Rachamim.

What is it about the one who has Tiferet hakavod that makes it clear to others they may approach and ask for help?   Showing one’s need to such a one, and one’s vulnerability causes this one to say to herself, “How could I not help?”  For this is a Tiferet kind of person, i.e., a person with reason.  Tiferet is the source of noblesse oblige, of Tiferet to the poor. 

Since Tiferet is a harmony, if it is represented visually, it can’t be Tiferet if it is only one color.  It is a harmony between Chesed and Gevurah, between the generous and the austere.   

Tiferet says, “What difference what I wear!” If one wears Din / judgment, justice (associated with Gevurah), then one wears overalls.  If one comes in lounging clothes, then it’s like Chesed.  But if I want to come to the chupa of a chasena / wedding, then I have to wear Tiferet, something between Chesed and Gevurah.

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