humility and mercy
This week begins the fifth week of the counting of the Omer. From the second night of Passover, forty-nine days are counted until Shavuot. Today is also Pesach Sheini – the second Passover, for those who were impure, according to the definition of Torah, or were on a distant journey. Pesach Sheini connotes the idea of second chances. The Israelites who were not able to observe Pesach were given a second chance, one month later, in order to do so. Today, the concept may be applicable to the personal instances of our lives, when we were given a second chance of some nature.
In respect to the counting of the omer, the seven weeks are assigned seven midot (character traits), one for each week. This week begins our focus on the quality of humility in our lives. With respect to each day of the week, the main midah of that week is combined with one of the seven. Today is the quality of mercy within humility. Therefore, one contemplation could focus on whether or not our humility will cause us to be compassionate towards others. Conversely, we could ask ourselves does a lack of humility in our lives lead to arrogance, and a subsequent disregard for others?
For myself, humility is a life-long goal that seems to be shaped only by maturity and experience. I need to constantly guard myself against feeling prideful about my acheivements; otherwise, I could become haughty. In respect to my abilities, I need to recognize that my talents are from H’Shem, even though I may have put much effort into developing them. Hopefully, I will continue to remember the example of King David, who attributed all of his success to H’Shem.
Ultimately, how can I take credit in my own so-called accomplishments? I should have a system of checks and balances, so that I can humble myself in various situations. Yet, changing one’s character is not easy. I need to also realize that others struggle with their own character, so that I can be merciful towards them, for example, by overlooking their faults. We are all human, and often fall short of the ideals that are intended for us by G-d. Yet, we can still try to live up to His image as best we can.