hazzan Diana Brewer was ordained through the aleph ordination program. she leads prayer services regularly at the jewish community of amherst, and is on the staff of the davvenen leadership training institute.

Omer Day 30 גבורה שבהוד Gevurah SheBeHod

Strength. Boundaries. Structure. Discernment within Awe. Peak. Splendor. Gratitude. Humility.  Space.

One thing I love about the writing process is that you don't have to know what's going to come out. You just have to start writing. Here I go. 

Hod. A delightful and tricky place. Lights are brighter. Sounds are clearer. Feelings are heightened. Perceptions, in general, are somewhat altered in a very enticing way. Hod can be a place of mochin d'gadlut - expanded consciousness. It's a beautiful place of Splendor.

As I have noted in at least one past post where Hod was in play, it can be a rough landing coming down from Hod experiences. How to avoid this? Do we need to? One helpful hint for me, as I ponder this, lies in the many varieties of states contained in Hod - Awe, Humility, Gratitude, Spaciousness, Empathy. It seems that just as all sefirot have to be operating in balance with each other, this one has a need to balance all of its various elements within itself. That's a starting place. 

I also think it's important to be able to really experience all of these things with rich abundance. The idea of Gevurah within Hod creates an enticing pathway beckoning me to say something like, "Beware the Hod! Don't get sucked in! Hold back!" I somehow don't think that's the point either. But how do we ease our way out of it? How do we avoid the potential pitfalls of Hod?

I think this is where Gevurah comes in. This may be the key balancing each of these ideas. Humility could so easily turn into humiliation. Awe can turn to idolatry, pedastalizing. Too much Peak, and I might forget that I have a family at home to take care of. It looks like it takes a great deal of a certain type of Strength and Discernment to keep these elements from going awry while still enjoying them in their fullness. 

A story. (As you have gathered by now, I am an experiential learner.) The following real-life example of my understanding of how these two interplay came to me as I rolled over in my sleep last night. As I have mentioned, I am on tour with a band this week (Dominic Kelly! Check out iTunes!). What I don't think I've mentioned, although many who are reading are aware, we are on tour with the Indigo Girls as their opening act. Cool stuff! These are pretty prestigious folks, and it is an honor to be associated with them. I do some singing with this band, but mostly on fiddle duty for this one. The Indigo Girls also have a fiddle player, the astonishing Lyris Hung. I admit it - she scares the pants off of me. I was a nervous wreck as she sat in our soundcheck on Sunday night. I so much wanted for one of us to just disappear. Admiration turned to Awe-gone-awry. Humility turned to humiliation as every tiny little imperfection in my playing was exponentially magnified in my ear.

Yes, friends, this is not sustainable.  Prayer and focusing on each of these beautiful sefirotic energies has been very helpful, to be sure. I think what finally helped me turn the corner was to just really let in my admiration for her - out loud, to her face. As we finished our set last night (which we killed, by the way), I walked by her in the wings, where she must have been watching. I told her how I love her playing, including a hefty complement containing an expletive I don't need to repeat here. In that action, idolatry was trimmed down to a healthy appreciation of a Splendidly gifted person. Humiliation subsided to Humility, and I could remember that the way I play touches people deeply, too, different though the approach is.

May you be blessed today with Awe according to the proper scale of your appreciation. May you have the Strength to face the Splendor that could blind you to your own Light. 





Omer Day 31 תפארת שבהוד Tiferet SheBeHod

Omer Day 29 חסד שבהוד Chesed SheBeHod