What is Tiferet?
The third quality (middah) is Tiferet, which is the quality of compassion, of balancing or harmonizing or blending together different values. The first two weeks we met Chesed/Unconditional Love and Gevurah/Discernment or Judgment. With Tiferet, we seek a balance with both Chesed and Gevurah, recognizing that we thrive in the harmonizing both/and.
Other translations of Tiferet are:
So what? How does it relate to me?
Tiferet invites building relationships that do not prioritize one person or one value over another. Rather, Tiferet is founded in the recognition that life is lived in imperfect and muddy compromise. And, in fact, that such a compromise is laudable; and, in fact, is a value unto itself.
Tiferet is foundational for meaningful relationships since we must create enough space for another to thrive; yet, simultaneously, bringing the totality of ourselves to the relationship. Only with Tiferet can we learn from each other, grow in our respective ways, and flourish together.
In truth, Tiferet is essential for all healthy, lasting relationships.
Tiferet reminds us that life is lived in a constant triage of our foundational values; not in the abstract, where a single value is maximized (regardless of how important it may be). Reflecting the human condition, Tiferet represents the epistemology of truth. Knowledge and what is knowable is determined, in part, by our very human, unique, and imperfect selves. This humility requires a wisdom for acceptance of imperfection even as we strive to improve, to grow, and to mature.
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” We meet holiness and the Holy One not in perfection, nor in perfecting any one ideal, but in the humble striving to perfect ourselves, our relationships, and our world. The humility of acceptance paves the way for harmony, for balance, and for truth.
Gevurah practice for the week:
- In what ways are you allowing perfection to be an impediment?
- How can you best create balance in your life?
- What ideal are you willing to compromise in order to bring more of it into the world?