Where are we as we enter the week of Hod? Our blueprint to freeing ourselves is designed (though it may have been altered during the week of Netzach as we looked at obstacles that need to be overcome). Netzach is energy of active trust—trust in one’s own capacities and in working with others to overcome any and every obstacle. We have taught in the past that Hod means surrender. This is the ‘opposite’ of overcoming obstacles and is taught by my teacher to mean ‘passive trust.’ (Rabbi Jacobson refers to Hod as humility and Rabbi Kantrowitz to splendor which she describes as “the complex organization of creation”).
So what is meant by surrender? As we mentioned before, it is not giving up or giving in—it is giving way. Each of us has a plan for our path to growth/change. Yet, the path is never without some accommodation and often we indeed laugh (or cry) at the incongruity of the plan and the outcome. Hod is surrendering to and accepting whatever outcome is there in spite of our best laid plans. When a person marries they have a blueprint for the connection of souls—and yet those plans may unravel to take another form—moving on to another blueprint for soul connection.
By looking at the Israelites journey in the desert we see that this week of Hod finds them in the straights of hunger—they have overcome much privation already but now they can no longer rely on their own resourcefulness. They are looking out at the ‘endless’ desert of Sin (in Hebrew it is spelled Samech-Yud-Nun). They must accept the reality: there is no food to sustain them. What are the options? Return to Egypt or ask for sustenance from God. This was clearly not what they planned. They were finally free and wanted to create their own destiny. But their lesson to learn (as part of freedom to plan) is to acknowledge that not everything is in your control and not just because of physical limitations. Perhaps you could ‘do it’ but your plan may not be for your ultimate good. Obstacles when not overcome, need to be accepted—surrendered to. When you accept reality as it is and know that (at least for the moment) you are not overcoming an obstacle–you surrender.
For six days we work and then on the seventh we Sabbath. The work week is akin to Netzach—striving and overcoming. This is what work is. Then there is the Sabbath. Hod. Acknowledging that no matter what our efforts are there is time to pursue nothing—to surrender into peace. The peace of Shabbat is not merely a passive retreat—we actively surrender into trust. It is no longer about our activity of work (overcoming obstacles). Similarly, after six years of farming we surrender into the trust of letting go and letting the ground be fallow—the Sabbath year of agriculture.
The week of Hod signals the start of the manna falling and the introduction of Shabbat for the Israelites. The manna which fell each morning is symbolic of our surrender to an existence of Shabbat—to be in peace regarding our work efforts. This was a lesson for that generation specifically, and for us now to see that there are times when we need to surrender—our efforts are done—we have tried all we might and now to let go is to accept what is beyond us. A business or relationship may not ‘succeed’ or turn out the way we planned—but that outcome comes and can go in a different direction. With its going we may need to mourn while acknowledging that we are not in control. This spiritual realization is the essence of Hod—to realize our human limits and give way to our soul and God.
Day 29 – Chesed in Hod
Chesed is an energy that connects us, it is expansive. You have set a blueprint for change, looked carefully at the obstacles and with integrity and determination know how to overcome them. This week the shift is to consider what cannot be overcome. In a sense this week is about coming to terms with overcoming the notion that we can overcome (everything). Chesed in Hod is accepting my limitations as a full awareness—I will not resist it. I acknowledge completely that there are aspects of change or growth, though I might like to address, I will not for now. Based on this and the next day, the blueprint will adjust.