humility and victory,
by Tzvi Schnee
Today is the 32nd day, four weeks and four days of the counting of the Omer. The middah of “hod,” in Hebrew, as represented by humility is reckoned through the middah of “netzach” (victory). Hod, humility exemplifies the lowly nature of man, subject to the conditions placed upon mankind, after Adam, the first man, fell prey to the temptations instituted by the serpent. Needless to say, the situation is prevalent today, whereas all mankind is influenced on a daily basis by the “lower nature” of man, known in Judaism as the yetzer harah (evil inclination). The task at hand for all of us, is to be lifted up by our higher nature, in order to transcend our limitations, meet the challenges of our lives, and succeed at improving our lives, and the lives of those around us.
Netzach may be understood to represent goals, in accord with a righteous way of life. While modern society may promote, to some extent, the notion of achieving our goals, irrespective of the means used to reach a certain end. On the contrary, it is important to move towards our goals in life in acknowledgement of how we get there. For example, humility allows us to assert our will, without stepping on the toes of others. If we are sincere in our humility, while recognizing our common threads with others, we will try to reach for the heights, without adversely influencing others along the way.
The same could be said with respect to the environment – our shared common ground on this earth; because we are to be responsible “stewards of the earth,” as mentioned in the book of Genesis, pollution should be avoided. Any company that uses the material resources of the earth, needs to also reap the benefits for the sake of others, without polluting the earth.
In this week’s reading from the Torah (the five books of Moses), G-d shows his concern for the earth, by instituting the shemitah cycle, wherein every seven years, the land is given a rest. During the seventh year, the land lies fallow. Moreover, the lowliness of it’s inhabitants in Israel are taken into consideration, whereby if someone, out of a destitute state sold his inheritance it would return to him at the time of Yovel (the Jubilee year).