Week 1: Ushpizin
Day 3: Jacob
Jacob is the third of the ushpizin and is associated with the Sefirah of Tiferet. In comparison to his brother Esau, who gave away his birthright for a meal, Jacob was of the mindset to put first things first in his decision making.
Tiferet may be the most complex of the Sefirot in some ways. Its centrality in the structure of the Tree of Life diagram is indicative of this. For instance, in the book ‘Sha’are Orah’ (Gates of Light) which is a study of all ten Sefirot, about 27 percent of the text is dedicated to Tiferet. Of the various names of G-d, the 4-letter name (YHVH) is associated with this Sefirah.
“Beauty is when the mind says, “There is symmetry here and I must find it!” It is the great hunt, the quest for meaning.”
– Tzvi Freeman
The word ‘tiferet’ comes from the Hebrew word pe’er, meaning “beauty.” This is beauty in terms of harmony. Tiferet merges the unrestricted flow of Chesed and the restriction of Gevurah to allow for the proper measure.
Tiferet is not “compromise,” it functions with a view toward integration. This balance/blending is why Tiferet is also called “Rachamim” (compassion), the synthesis between loving-kindness and judgment.
“… Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.”
– Genesis 25:27
Regarding this verse, it is taught that Jacob was a combination of Abraham and Isaac, i.e., the (two) ‘tents.’ He balanced his grandfather’s desire to give and bestow without limits, with the restriction (G-dly ‘fear’) of his father, Isaac. This ‘fear’ ensures that unbounded does not become misdirected. It adds sensitivity to our acts of loving-kindness.
Zohar, Shemoth 175b – “R. Simeon, we are told, explained thus the words, “And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall pass from one end to the other.” ‘ “The middle bar” ‘, he said, ‘signifies Jacob, the perfect saint, as we have pointed out on another occasion in connection with the characterization of Jacob as “a complete man, dwelling in tents” (Genesis 25:27). It does not say, “dwelling in a tent”, but “dwelling in tents,’, which denotes that he unified the two “tents” (of Severity and Mercy). … R. Simeon said further: ‘I perceive that Wisdom (Chokmah) is the totality of all the holy Sefirot, and that supernal Grace (Chesed) emanates from Wisdom, and Power (Gevurah), which is the prompter of severe judgment, from Understanding (Binah). Jacob harmonized both sides: the Fathers (Abraham and Isaac) signified the totality of all, and Jacob signified the union of the Fathers. Then came the merit of Jacob and synthesized both and made them one, for he signifies supernal harmony.”