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Week 5: Hod - The Splendor of Humility

*Even if this week of the omer has passed, you can still learn about and work on this trait. Any time is a good time for spiritual growth.


On the fifth day of Creation, YAHUAH made the birds of the air and the creatures of the sea. They were the first recipients of YAH’s benevolence:

"The eyes of all look to You expectantly, And You are giving them their food in its season, Opening Your hand and satisfying the desire of all that live." (Teh/Ps. 145:15-16)

They were also the first creatures to obey the command to “be fruitful and increase” (Ber/Gen. 1:22).

Thus, the birds and fish were the first to recognize their Creator and submit to His will. This was a model for all creatures to follow, culminating in the creation of man. When all of creation humbly recognizes their Creator and submits to His Sovereignty, then YAHUAH’s Presence enters the world. The whole world is filled with His esteem.

Week 5 of sefirat haomer is the week of hod.* Hod means humility and splendor.

How can one word have two seemingly opposite meanings - lowliness and greatness? That’s the secret of hod that we discover in the fifth week.

[*Hod: pronounced "hoad", rhymes with load]


Hod is a visible splendor. It’s the spiritual light of kedusha that shines from our neshama (our inner being). When Moshe came down from Sinai, his face shone so brightly that he had to put on a veil just so the people could look at him (Shem/Ex. 34:29). This was hod, splendor.

We all have a neshama inside us. However, we don’t shine for two reasons: We either have too much flesh and ego blocking the light, or we don’t have enough kedusha (set-apartness) to shine brightly. Oftentimes, it’s both.

The solution to both is humility.

Moshe was the most humble person on earth (Bem/Num. 12:3). His flesh and ego were completely diminished to reveal the splendor of his neshama. He also met face to face with the Almighty and received a high measure of kedusha from His Presence.

Yet, even though Moshe had rays of esteem shining forth from him, it is Aharon who is most known for the trait of hod. In Mitsrayim (Egypt), Aharon was the leader of the Hebrews while Moshe lived in the palace and then fled to Midyan for 40 years. When Moshe returned to lead the people, Aharon humbly stepped aside to “second place.”

Aharon knew that it wasn’t about him. It was about YAHUAH’s mission to bring Yisrael out of slavery and take them to Sinai and the Promised Land. It wasn’t his will but YAH’s will.

Aharon also humbly submitted to YAHUAH’s authority and followed every single detail of the Torah regarding the priestly duties. He followed everything to the exact letter. He understood His duty was to serve - to serve YAHUAH and his brothers.

Aharon was the epitome of humility, and the priestly garments of the kohen gadol (high priest) were a physical expression of his spiritual splendor. His outside matched his inner greatness and splendor.

We may not be able to attain Moshe’s status to have visible splendor radiating from us, but we can all strive to be like Aharon. We can imitate his humbleness and achieve a degree of inner splendor that will be matched externally.

When we humble ourselves, we decrease our pride and ego and lower the effects of our flesh. Decreasing our pride allows us to submit to YAH’s Sovereignty and obey His commandments. This obedience brings kedusha, set-apartness.

The more humble we are, the more splendor will be revealed.

That’s why hod can have two seemingly opposite meanings - splendor and humility, greatness and lowliness. They’re not opposites. They’re one and the same - the trait of hod.

The question then becomes: How do I develop hod? How do I humble myself to reveal my inner splendor?

The answer lies in the word “hod” itself. Hod is related to words that mean “giving thanks” and “to admit.” The keys to developing hod are gratitude and confession.


Every morning upon waking, the first words out of our mouth should be “Modeh Ani.”

Modeh anee lefanecha melech chai vekayam, she-he-chezarta bee nishmatee b’chemla, raba emunatecha.

I gratefully thank You, O living and everlasting Sovereign, for You Have returned my soul within me with compassion - abundant is Your faithfulness!

The first thing we do every morning, as soon as we open our eyes, is give YAH thanks.

Modeh (I gratefully thank You) is related to the word hod. Other related words include: todah (thank you), hoda’ah, and hodu (give thanks). So, hod is related to giving thanks.

When we say “thank you,” we know that it makes the giver feel good and appreciated, but do we ever stop to think about what it does for us, the recipient?

Besides giving us good manners, saying “thank you” actually helps us to be more humble.

When we say “thank you,” we’re admitting that someone extended themselves and showed kindness toward us.

However, sometimes, our ego (the feelings that arise from our physical self) resists this. Pride doesn’t want us to feel “lower” than another. It doesn’t want us to feel like we’re in a position of need and that someone had to help us.

Also, saying “thank you” comes with an obligation. Even if the giver expects nothing in return, there is still a sense of obligation. We feel obligated to appreciate the gift, to use the gift in a certain way, or to “pay it forward” somehow. Each time we're the recipient of someone's kindness, we feel obliged in some way.

Again, our ego gets in the way and resists. Our ego doesn’t want us to owe anyone anything because that would make us feel “lower” than another.

Sincere gratitude can be difficult. It’s more than just politely saying the words. True gratitude means we admit that we needed someone and that we couldn’t do it all on our own. It's acknowledging that we now have an obligation to someone else. It means that we have to elevate someone else above ourselves.

So, sometimes, saying “thank you” with real sincerity - not just politeness - can be difficult.

Sincere gratitude is difficult...but necessary.

Gratitude is the first step toward humility. It's admitting that we needed help and that we couldn’t do it on our own. It's acknowledging that someone was kind to us and now we have an obligation.

That acknowledgment takes humility. It requires us to push our ego out of the way, lower ourselves, and elevate someone else. When we are truly grateful and express sincere gratitude to another, we are expressing hod, humility.


Admit’s hard to admit things, right?

It’s hard to admit when we’re wrong, when we make mistakes, and when we mess things up. It’s even harder to admit that someone else was right.

Again, ego and pride are the culprits. We just don’t like to see ourselves in a negative light. So, instead of admitting that we were wrong, we rationalize, we make excuses, and we blame others. We try to hide our mistakes or just outright ignore them.

Hod also means “to admit.” It’s the root of the word viduy, “confession.”

Yahudah (also from the word hod) is the tribe of kings. Why did Yahudah get this honor? Because when Yahudah sinned regarding Tamar, he admitted it. He said, “She has been more righteous than I, because I did not give her to Shelah my son” (Ber/Gen. 38:25). He didn’t try to hide or justify his sin. He admitted he was wrong, confessed, and repented.

Later, King David of the tribe of Yahudah followed the same pattern. When he sinned with Bathsheba and was confronted by the prophet Nathan, David confessed, “I have sinned against YAHUAH (2 Shem. 12:13). He admitted he was wrong.

David wasn’t Yisrael’s greatest king because he was perfect but because he admitted his mistakes, accepted responsibility for his actions, and repented.

In time, all of YAH’s people became known as Yahudim (regardless of tribe). So, admitting mistakes and taking responsibility is an important part of being a Yahudi/te - just as important as giving thanks.

Like gratitude, confession also requires humility. We have to push pride and ego aside to admit that we were wrong. When we confess, own up to our mistakes, and take responsibility for our actions, we are expressing hod, humility.

Humble Splendor

With both gratitude and confession, we’re lowering ourselves and elevating another. This is the essence of humility.

It is also the basis of our relationship with YAHUAH.

Gratitude and confession lead us to humbly submit to YAHUAH’s Sovereignty.

We will follow YAH’s commandments only if we can admit that He knows what’s right better than me. We’ll obey Him only if we can admit that His wisdom is greater than mine. This comes through confession.

Giving YAH sincere thanks is admitting that we need Him and that we can’t do it all on our own. We’re admitting that we are obligated to Him because of the kindness He’s shown us. That obligation leads us to obey His commandments, which brings set-apartness.

With gratitude and confession, we remove pride and ego (decreasing our flesh) and increase in kedusha (set-apartness). Now, our inner being can shine brightly without hindrance. That's hod - the splendor of humility.

Growing in Hod

When we lower ourselves, we increase in splendor. Here are some ways to incorporate gratitude and confession into our lives:

Say “thank you.” We teach our kids to say it, now we have to practice what we preach. Say “thank you” with sincerity. Acknowledge everyone who shows kindness and thoughtfulness toward you no matter how small. Say it, and mean it. Take a minute to truly appreciate them and be grateful.

Say "Thank You" to YAH. Thank YAH for everything! Start each day with Modeh Ani and the Morning Blessings, and let that set the tone for the day. When something good happens, give YAH thanks instead of hogging the credit. And remember, we don’t have to wait for something good to happen to say "thank You." Say “thank You” for the things that already happened and for the things you already have. Say “thank You” for all the things that just are - like the sun, moon, air, water, trees, etc. Make thanksgiving a way of life.

Be happy about life. YAHUAH is Sovereign. Remind yourself often. Work to get rid of any anger, frustration, or sadness over your life. Realize that YAHUAH is in control, and therefore, somehow, in some way, this is what’s best. His wisdom is greater than ours. Accept His will. Focus on all the good in your life and in the world and express gratitude to YAH.

Admit when you’re wrong. I know. It's hard. But we just have to do it. Own up to your mistakes. Take responsibility for your actions. Avoid making excuses, rationalizing, and justifying, and just leave the blame game alone. Say “I’m sorry” - to others and to YAH.

The more we decrease ourselves, the more YAHUAH’s Light can shine. That’s the beauty of Creation. YAHUAH created us as vessels for His kedusha. When we humble ourselves, then His splendor can shine through us. Our humility brings His Light, His Presence, into the world.

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댓글 1개

2020년 7월 25일

HalleluYAH! A great read at anytime to help us become better Yahudi/te!

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