COUNT THE OMER 5782
WEEK THREE: TIFERET
Each week, we focus on topics oriented on middah in the way that Tomer Devorah indicates, as such:
DEEPENING MUSSAR LEARNING AND PRACTICE
Tomer Devorah says:
The most important thing of all is to refine one’s mind by scrutinizing one’s thoughts and examining oneself in the course of the give-and-take of conversation. If one finds even a trace of impure thought, one must retract one’s words. One should always admit to the truth in order that tiferet, the quality of truth, be found there.
In this way, Tomer Devorah directs us towards the middah of truth as a way of accessing the sphere of Tiferet (which literally translates as “beauty”).
KABBALAH - EXERCISE OR ACTION
Because there are so many ways to be untruthful, and different degrees of falsehood, truth is a trait that we all need to cultivate, for one reason or another.
We take our model for a kabbalah for this trait from the 19th century Mussar yeshiva in Kelm, where they had a practice to contemplate actively before any conversation to try to discern what God would want them to say. And so, the practice we are assigning is to make a habit of asking yourself before you speak: “What would God want me to say?”
This practice does not imply any specific theology. If you prefer to phrase it as “What would my higher self want me to say?” that or any other similar formulation would work just as well.
There is a big difference between something that is simple and something that is easy. The practice we have just assigned is as simple as they get. The instructions are contained in one short sentence. But that doesn’t make it easy. When a conversation is going on and amid all the normal pressures and pleasures of interaction at work, will you remember to ask yourself “What does God want me to say?” Will you commit to being truthful in the face of possible shame or admit the truth when you are mistaken?
Remember, speaking truthfully (in the objective sense) is not always aligned with the divine will.
CHESHBON HA'NEFESH OR ACCOUNTING OF THE SOUL
As you look back over your day and prepare to journal on the place truth occupied in your life this day, think especially about interactions you had with other people. Did you tell the truth? Did you lie? But it may not be so clear and black and white. Perhaps you just “shaded” the truth a bit in your favor, or exaggerated. Or maybe you did not say anything untrue, you just left a fact out of a story or a report. And just as important, when you look back over the day, see if you can find any instances when what you said was truthful, especially if it would have been tempting or even easier to say something different.
If you do find instances where you deviated from the truth, dig into that incident to see if you can identify which trait in you was being served by the dishonesty. Record what you find in your journal. Lying may be the behavior but often it is motivated by another trait and you may gain important insight into a trait that is sitting on your personal spiritual curriculum.