Day Three: Tiferet of Chesed
This entire week is focused on “chesed,” love. Today, the third day of the omer, we consider the aspect of “tiferet” in our love.
Tiferet, beauty, is also about harmony and balance. Tiferet is the ideal combination of chesed (love) on the one side and gevurah (strength or judgment) on the other side.
The kabbahlists teach that if the world were all chesed, you wouldn’t be able to see it – it would be like the rays of the sun being invisible inside the sun. And if the world were all gevurah, it would be all darkness with no light. Gevurah is needed to bring enough “dark” to make “light” visible – hence the world only exists because there is a balance, and that balance is tiferet.
The same is true in love. It’s easiest to see in the example of raising children. If your love for your children is all chesed with no gevurah, no discipline, your children probably won’t grow up to be happy, well-adjusted adults. Every parent knows kids need some guidance and some limits. Similarly too much gevurah is oppressive. The ideal is neither extreme – not parenting where you don’t set any borders, and not “helicopter parenting” where you tell your children exactly what to do every moment of the day. It may be a little less obvious in other love relationships, but the same principle does apply. In a romantic relationship, having too much gevurah might lead to excessive possessiveness and jealousy – and as the song goes, “love is a rose, but you better not pick it, only grows when it’s on the vine.” On the other hand, not having any boundaries might be confused with not caring, or not seeing anything special in a particular relationship. Mature love also succeeds in finding this balance.