Posts Tagged ‘kavod’

August 1, 2011

Rabbi Danny’s three-part question

Rabbi Danny wrote a three-part question:

(1) Are bad character traits such as the classic anger, jealousy, the desire for physical pleasures, the desire for honor, etc. found more in specific personalities, or are they totally independent?

(2) How does one tell a chesed, aside from process of elimination?

(3) Seeing that approximately half the world are chesed personalities, it would seem to be extremely important to know specifically about the particulars of each secondary middah for cheseds. Which secondary middos make a “later chesed“?

Answer to Part II & III (see Part I below):

(2) The way to tell if someone is a chesed is by (A) checking his or her mannerisms and preferences, and (B), which relates to your third question, is to try and check out their secondary middah (quality).

Someone who has the attribute of chesed will naturally be more mild-mannered and less uptight when dealing with people in their environment, compared to other personalities. Cheseds are more willing to brush off the irritation of external stimuli than are gevurahs, by comparison.

For example, if there is a couple consisting of a chesed-type and gevurah-type that throws a party and the party becomes overly crowded and a somewhat unruly, a common gevurah susceptibility is to become perturbed at the developments, and to attempt to restore order to the event. The gevurah may be tempted to allow his- or herself to become uptight and he or she may end up ruining some of the fun atmosphere of the party.

A typical chesed response, in contrast, would be to be somewhat upset about the developments, but to not attempt to rectify the events fully. They tend to ‘let go’ and not get strongly involved.

Another way to tell if someone is a chesed is that cheseds shy away from accepting people’s big plans as reasonable decisions and feel uncomfortable when urged to buy into others’ elaborate dreams.

In addition, cheseds can be identified as people who feel that they are always searching for something to make themselves unique and special. Because chesed by nature is a middah that has no overbearing characteristics you will often find that the chesed’s secondary middah is his or her most prominent quality. This makes them a ‘later chesed’.

A “later chesed” is someone who has a personality combination that is later in the sequence of the seven chesed personalities. The seven chesed personalities are in a specific order, chesedchesed, chesed-gevurah, chesed-tiferet etc. all the way down to chesed-malchut. The later cheseds are later in this order.

As such, I refer to people who are chesed-chesed as earlier cheseds. I prefer to identify these groups as two distinct subsets of the chesed middah, due to the fact that they each exhibit somewhat different characteristics. (Click here to learn more about some of the differences).

You can ascertain if someone is a later chesed if they do not seem to have any overbearing characteristics in their temperament, but have some of another middah, i.e. a secondary middah, which shows up less than a primary middah. For example, if the person in question dabbles in some artistic area, but he or she does not have the personality of an artist, they may be a chesed-tiferet.

It does seem to be ‘process of elimination’, but when one puts together these basic characteristics, cheseds will be readily discovered.


Answer to Part I:

Dear Rabbi Danny,

Yes, those three ‘primary’ bad character traits do show up in certain personalities more than others.
I cannot answer you fully right now, as it would take multiple pages to bring the full explanation and proofs. However, I am in the process of writing an article/chapter “Chachma, Binah, Da’at: The Building Blocks” that goes through this topic in full detail.

The short if it, though, is mostly straight forward and quite intuitive:
Malchut and gevurah types are very stong-minded, and concerned with self-preservation, so they are quite susceptible to gaavah and ka’as, arrogance/self-righteousness and anger. Netzachs unexpectedly are susceptible to their own version of the same, as they are naturally intelligent, thinking-oriented people and often feel that they are much smarter than others. The self-righteousness and contempt soon follows.

Cheseds (especially chesed-cheseds ‘earlier cheseds’) and Hods are susceptible to tayva the desire for physical pleasure. Later cheseds (i.e. someone who is chesed-X where X is any middah (trait) except for chesed) can become quite cynical. I will explain why this relates to tayva in the aforementioned article.

People with the middot of tiferet and yesod have issues with kina, as kina does not simply mean jealousy, but the use of the faculty of the imagination (this is based on Rashi, Malbim, and Maimonides). In truth, tiferets can be very jealous, but the key trait here is that they are susceptible to focusing on contrived expectations and imagined future events, hoping for unrealistic dreams to come (I discuss this issue and how to deal with it extensively in The Seven Ways). Yesods are, by nature, not jealous whatsoever. However, they continually imagine ‘what could be’ and desire to change, improve, and reach the goals in their imagination.

We are all susceptible to these bad character traits, but certain people are susceptible to some more than others. May we all know our weaknesses in order to improve ourselves.

Take it easy,
Rabbi Bailey