Tipheret is the point of balance between chesed (loving-kindness) and gevurah (restraint). It is about the joy that comes from both working in balance. Tipheret’s about choosing what is best for the whole, not only for yourself or another. Tipheret is about compassion, beauty, and mercy. It energizes creativity. Tipheret feels and creates harmony. It feels like you have been blessed.
Ultimately tipheret is about the beauty and appreciation of ongoing creation. Sometimes this kind of creativity comes in an energized form, other times from peacefulness and contentment. Neither is better or worse. But you’ll understand tipheret best when you feel hardwired into what’s best and right with the world, and when evil or ugliness feel very far away.
Rabbi David Cooper uses the analogy of spooning whipped cream onto your dessert. If chesed had no balancing force you’d drown in it. With too much gevurah you’d get little or none. There’s a perfect equilibrium between sweetness and health that’s good for you. In Goldilocks terms, tipheret feels “just right.”
Think about walking a tightrope or climbing a ladder, to which Tree of Life is similar. Only by maintaining balance can you reach your true destination.
Though Tipheret represents balance, it is dynamic. Think white and red making shades of pink. Any pendulum will find its true center in time. But in your life, there’s not necessarily only one right answer, even dead center, because every situation is unique. Tipheret lets you try them on and see what fits and feels right.
Tipheret is about being kinder and gentler. Not in the unlimited love way of chesed, but in the sense of greater empathy and caring. You don’t have to give away all your worldly goods. But you should become more willing to share, and to forgive the transgressions of others. It’s about creating more calm, generosity, goodness, and well-being.
The dance of dialogue, even about troublesome topics on which people disagree, can be part of tipheret. It’s about learning to see an issue through another’s point of view and to become able to incorporate that perspective into your own worldview.
Tipheret is sometimes associated with the idea of a tzaddik, someone who goes through the world doing good, making wise judgments, creating peace and justice. These qualities are also associated with what are called the thirteen attributes of God or the thirteen attributes of mercy. They include compassion, mercy, graciousness, truth, being slow to anger, and forgiveness/pardon.
Tipheret is also associated with physical beauty. The sun bursting through clouds, or art, music, and poetry. You may be a conduit for beauty’s creation, or an admirer of the harmony and peace that it creates. It’s all tipheret when you feel it soften and open you.
Think about situations that make you feel balanced and in harmony. People or situations that engender your sense of compassion. Is it a process of actively energizing your chesed and your gevurah and then consciously creating balance? Or does it arise spontaneously in you?
What calms your heart and what excites it? Does it more often feel natural or like a goal? Are you satisfied or hungry for more? How can you help bring more tipheret into your life?