Yesod is the foundation, the base a building rests on, and it’s also bonding, the joining together of the traits above. As we come close to the end of our week of exploring tiferet, compassion/beauty/balance, we consider the foundation.
Compassion can be based on many different things. Some religious people are compassionate because they believe it’s what God is telling them to do. Some people are compassionate because it intellectually seems to be the right thing to do. But true compassion is based on real caring for other people. The rabbis have several teachings about this, how important it is to have a generous, giving nature. They teach that all are obligated to give charity even someone who is on charity himself. Why should someone who is on charity himself be obligated to give charity? Wouldn’t it be more efficient to “skip the middle man,” and just bypass giving money to someone who will give it to someone else?
The reason isn’t so much practical as it is because of the impact on the giver’s character. When the recipient of charity gives to others, he sees others. His compassion is aroused for others and rather than perhaps just getting lost in his own pain and suffering he can also see others need help too. He can also see that he’s not just a “taker,” that no one can be just a “taker” that everyone has to also be a “giver.”
And this is really the point of the whole exercise of looking at different personality traits each of the 49 days of the omer. To help us reflect and refine our personality traits. To at least cultivate some awareness of where we need to go to become better people.