Monday, April 6, 2015

Gevurah b'Chesed

Today is day two of the omer, gevurah b'chesed (discipline and restraint in loving-kindness). This may seem like it contradicts my previous post but it really just expands upon it further. The lesson of restraint in loving and kindness is not about being frugal about with whom we share our love and kindness but rather that we must not abuse it. Sometimes we mistake our own good intentions with an act of chesed when it is really a perverse use of it. We often feel that we must protect those around us with a shelter of love when we should actually be pushing our loved ones, and ourselves, to be challenged and made uncomfortable. I know this may be difficult for some to digest. I am not saying that we should completely ignore the concept of safe spaces but instead learn to not stop there. Safe spaces does have a place and purpose but it does not promote the growth and development that we all need in order to be productive adults. By challenging those around you to grapple with complex and nuanced topics you have just done them a greater service. You have embarked upon the road of learning with them. The Talmud teaches that parents, explicitly fathers, are commanded to teach their children, read sons, a trade or how to support themselves. From this midrash I feel that it can easily be inferred that supporting oneself includes being fully equipped to take all that the world will throw at you. We must recognize when it is appropriate to protect those around us from things that might overtake them and when we must let them grow from the experience of struggle. I find it quite ironic that we as Jews, a people who have struggled for generations, have forgotten that our strength comes from struggling together. Since we just finished a few nights of seder we might remember how we were slaves in Egypt and if G-d had just delivered us from that it would have been enough, dayenu. However we are commanded to suffer more with matzah and a lack of our normal diet staples. Let us remember the sense of accomplishment and fulfillment we feel when we finally finish climbing whatever figurative mountain it is that we are on and dayenu. Let that be enough the next time your protective Jewish motherly instinct kicks in. Let it be enough to support them on their journey. Let it be enough to celebrate in the success they have and encourage them to keep trying when they fail.

This is dedicated to Pardes Summer 2014 Intro to Talmud with David Levin-Kraus. Thanks for pushing us to the limit we didn't know we had.

For more information on brave spaces check out this article. 

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