Elul 16, 5779
September 16, 2019
Compassion and mercy are important themes of the High Holy Days. We pray that God has compassion for us, knowing that we are not perfect. In the same way, we also hope that those whom we have wronged can find compassion for us and forgive us for any pain that we have caused. We also look to develop compassion for others so that we might come to a place of forgiveness ourselves. And finally, we seek compassion for ourselves as we seek to make positive changes in our lives.
From our Sources
There was a king, who had some delicate glass cups. He said to himself, “If I put hot water into them, they will expand and break, and if I pour cold water into them, they will contract and shatter.” So what did he do? He mixed the hot water with the cold, and the glasses did not break. So it was when the Holy One created the world. God said, “If I create the world with only the attribute of compassion, no one will be concerned for the consequences of their actions and people will feel impunity to act badly. But if I create the world with strict judgment alone, how can the world endure? It would shatter from the harshness of justice. So I will create it with both justice and compassion, and it will endure.”
-Genesis Rabbah 12:15
A habitual ego-bound perspective gives rise to the well-ingrained tendency to look at others with eyes of judgment. What appears before us when we look at another in this way are that person’s accumulated deeds and habits as they stand right now, which we judge from our own vantage point. When we lower or transcend the boundaries of the self, however, and draw closer so that we can feel within us the truth of that other person’s experience, and so see with eyes of compassion, we still ought to see that person as they are now, but something else will also be added to that picture. We will also see more deeply to perceive the untainted soul that is the kernel of that being – the image of the divine that is reflected in ourselves as well. Through close identification we become more generous, forgiving, excusing, overlooking, patient and forbearing – just as you would expect someone to be to you, if only they would feel what you are feeling.
-Alan Morinis, With Heart in Mind
How do you balance judgment and compassion when it comes to others?
How do you balance judgment and compassion when it comes to yourself?
Think of someone you judge harshly. Can you find a point of connection with them?
Even the fact that you were both created in the image of the divine?
If so, does that connection allow you to consider them with more compassion?