Hod of Gevurah – Humily of Discipline
As much as the discourse on my social media accounts enlivens me, I also find that too much time on the Internet can encourage my yetzer haraLit. The evil inclination This aspect of every human being which leads to sin. It is not entirely one sided, however. In the Talmud, the rabbis ask why God created the yetzer hara and conclude that it is necessary so that people propagate and build, as it motivates ambition and sexual desire. (evil inclination) as much as my yetzer hatovLit. The inclination for good. That part of human beings which leads us to do good and act righteously in the world. (good inclination). When I disagree with others in online discussions, I need help to distinguish between properly strong replies and overly sanctimonious retorts. On Day 12 of the OmerFrom the second day of Passover until Shavuot, Jews count seven weeks – seven times seven days – to commemorate the period between the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Sinai. When the Temple stood, a certain measure (omer) of barley was offered on the altar each day; today, we merely count out the days., symbolized by Hod sh’b’Gevurah (Humility of Discipline), I reflect on the ways I can connect myself with others in order to offer strong words more humbly. The following letter could serve as an exercise for others to pause before pressing “send,” in order to cultivate humility and deepens a sense of shared humanity in digital spaces.
To this Particular Recipient of my Internet Wrath,
I am pausing to write this to you before I press “send.” In another window, I am ready to unleash my extended critique of your offhand remark. Your comment was not addressed to me, but if I do not expose your faulty logic and the immorality it propagates, then who will? We do not know each other—so I take a moment to poke around your account. I see only your photo, a few right-wing news articles, and, most strikingly, the fact that we both like the Baltimore Orioles Fan Page.
Before I press “send,” I take a moment to consider your life and mine. I wonder about this mutual connection of ours. I am not sure if you feel the same way about the Orioles as I do. We are about the same age; maybe we share the same memories of Cal Ripken, Brady Anderson, and the brick walls of Camden Yards. Maybe, like me, you rode in through the tall iron gates on your father’s shoulders, silly with exhilaration and the prospect of staying out way past your bedtime. I hope the O’s won the games you went to—we didn’t fare so well the nights I was there. Maybe you still keep track of the current players. I hope you keep track for the both of us.
Clearly our opinions differ—and, ballpark or not, I will still offer you a viewpoint that will challenge your sensibilities. Still, before I write something hurtful or flippant or needlessly inflammatory, I will still pause here to consider the things we have in common. Before giving you the force of my words, I need to first give you my humility. It will never hurt me to pause and reflect on me and you before I press “send.” With this time, I will imagine us both in the ballpark, listening eagerly for the crack of the bat, ready to watch the ball sail over the walls out of the outfield with glory.
No matter how we differ, my heart softens to know we’re still in this together.
Sending my humblest regards,
Image by D’vorah Horn from her set of Omer Practice Cards (2016).