We’re beginning the third week of the 49-day Counting of the Omer. As I shared earlier, Aish HaTorah, an excellent Orthodox Jewish organization, has organized this counting around 7 important character traits that are part of all humanity.
In preparation for Shavuot, which we will observe on June 8 during and after services, when we received the Torah as a united nation, many people use the Counting of the Omer to improve character traitsand develop their sense of unity as a people of God. I’m interacting with some of Aish’s ideas, adding some comments from ha B’rit Hadashah (the New Covenant) and offering some personal thoughts.
The first week of the 49-day Counting focused on chesed, loving-kindness, and provided 7 easy ways to develop this character trait. The second week of the Counting looks at gevurah, discipline, and offers some easy-to-take steps to develop this character trait a bit better. Now, we enter the third week in which we’re going to explore a very important characteristic—tiferet/compassion.
From Aish: Day 17 ― Tiferet of Tiferet: Compassion in Compassion
True compassion is limitless. It is not an extension of your needs and defined by your limited perspective. Compassion for another is achieved by having a selfless attitude, rising above yourself and placing yourself in the other person’s situation and experience. Am I prepared and able to do that? If not, why? Do I express and actualize the compassion and empathy in my heart? What blocks me from expressing it? Is my compassion compassionate or self-serving? Is it compassion that comes out of guilt rather than genuine empathy? How does that affect and distort my compassion? Test yourself by seeing if you express compassion even when you don’t feel guilty.
From ha B’rit Hadashah (the New Covenant)
Mark 6:34 When Yeshua came ashore, he saw a huge crowd. Filled with compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, he began teaching them many things.
Although we can imagine that Messiah was fatigued, having spent time on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) in a boat in the sun, he still started to teach. True compassion requires action, not mere platitudes.
From me: Although expressing compassion to a hurting person is a good and godly thing, doing something to relieve a person’s pain is an even godlier thing to do. Ya’akov (James) said
2:16If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
Exercise for the day: Express your compassion in a new way that goes beyond your previous limitations: express it towards someone to whom you have been callous. I would also suggest thinking of some sort of action that would show your compassion. That will truly have a good impact.