The sefirah of Hod (the sefirah of this week’s Omer count) feels misunderstood. Yet she is too humble to make a big deal about it. There are those who translate her as a false face, others as the ecstasy of a ride in a Ferrari and still others as the delight in the variety of tastes (this from a quick perusal of Kabbalah websites). In a world full of possibilities Hod can guise herself in the imagination of many interpretations.
According to the dogma of Kabbalah, Hod means acknowledgment—a derivative of the word in Hebrew L’Hodot—to acknowledge. From here some Kabbalists expand the meaning to words such as surrender, acceptance, gratitude, compromise and an underlying concept of humility.
As I am writing this blog my daughter, who at age 2 is quite a master of technology, just deleted all the photos and videos on my I-phone—the more recent ones not having been saved to my computer. It is a moment of Hod—surrender. The memories are still present. The images are no longer preserved to be shown. Hod happens. We come to accept the reality of what is.
This coming Sunday is the holiday of Lag Ba’ Omer—which simply means the 33rd day of the Omer. The interplay of the sefiort—one within another—has this day be the Hod of Hod. It is a day of general celebration in Jewish tradition—for Kabbalists it is called a “birthday” –specifically celebrating the day of the great mystic Rabbi Shimeon Bar Yochai departing this earthly plane. Rabbi Shimeon—the master, is released from his finite existence into the infinite–the ultimate moment of surrender is death. Tied into the meaning of acknowledgment we get the phrase “Grateful Dead.”
There are deaths though that are hard to accept. Especially the death of young ones, personified this week by Martin Richard, the eight year old boy killed in the Boston bombing. Only a few paces from Martin, in the VIP section, were honored guests from the Sandy Hook Elementary community in Newtown. They came to the Marathon to support runners who were raising money for the families of the school shooting victims. There were 26 who died at Sandy Hook and each mile of the Marathon (26 in total) was dedicated to one of the victims.
A dogma of Kabbalah was restated by our speaker this past Tuesday night, Rabbi Tirzah Firestone. She interpreted the concept of Tikkun as being “on purpose” and that nothing occurs in this world by accident—it is all purposeful. When we face the incomprehensibility of the death of a child we are in Hod—surrender. Which way we interpret it though is up to us: Is Hod teaching us to surrender to the dogma of Kabbalah that the death is purposeful or to surrender the dogma and wonder if there is a purpose?
My personal reflection is that the answer is beyond either of those interpretations. For My thoughts are not thoughts (says God) nor are My ways the ways of categorization. We must search beyond the dogma of purposefulness and non-purpose to embrace a final hug of a dear son and his father.