Counting the Omer Day 17: Tiferet of Tiferet
Tiferet is balance, beauty, compassion. So today, tiferet of tiferet, is an exploration of the essence of compassion.
Ideally our compassion extends to all living creatures. We are taught that the ideal in Judaism is to be a vegetarian; the permission to eat meat at all is a compromise because an animal had to give it’s life.
Not only are we commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, we are commanded to pay attention to animals as well, and it doesn’t matter who owns the animal. The Torah commands us to help raise an animal owned by our enemy if it falls under its burden. There is a midrash that says Moses was appointed shepherd of the Jewish people because God saw that he was compassionate toward the sheep that were under his care. The Talmud tells us Rabbi Yehuda haNasi determined he was being punished for not feeling compassion toward a calf that was destined for slaughter.
The world can be a cruel and difficult place. The need for compassion is endless. The way we respond to suffering is a true mark of the quality of our characters.