Piero Ferrucci and the Kabbalah of empathy

Last Sunday we woke up to a world that pulsated with the Dual energy of CHESED IN NETZACH — This is the way a river of calm and kindness flows right through us, centering us, even though we might be in the midst of full on Aggressive combat mode — helping us to encompass dueling energies in a healthier way.

This allowed for a flow of the Sefira energy of Netzach /victory, balanced by a gentle soothing layer of Chesed/kindness, to set the tone for a holy new week – one that enabled us to celebrate the joy of our wins appropriately, allowing for the thrill of achievement, minus the arrogant gloating of conquest; empowering us To be able to make love even in those instances when we must wage war.

This Sunday our world looks entirely different as the battles wind down and we transition from Netzach-goal oriented personal advancement mode – into the world of Hod empathy. This world is about imagining a different way of being that is the exact opposite mindset- one that endeavors to foster a sense of curiosity and interest in the lives, and welfare of others.

I have found in all my years as a Rabbi – counselor, that I am of the greatest assistance to people, only when I have been able to be fully present and identify with their predicament.

Pierro Ferrucci in his beautiful book, the power of kindness, says it best: “… empathy has always been necessary to our survival- human beings can only thrive in community…and that is impossible if they cannot read the emotions and intentions of others….empathy is a prerequisite for communication, collaboration, and social cohesion. If we annul it we return to savagery- or cease to exist.”

In Hebrew the letter Vav is the connector. This might be why the actual hebrew word for hook is VAV! The Vav before a word is all about the inclusionary joining of… how we hook our lives into the lives of others- all about the empathetic and magical word- AND, not only the narcissistic, self centered word- JUST!

In fact according to Kabbalah, the third letter in G-ds four letter name is The VAV, the place where G-d is empathetic, and concentrates less on his capacity to beam infinite light, and more on our capacity to receive it- an adjustment that reformats G-ds infinite energy- too the point where it is scaled back sufficiently, to suitably “hook” into us, thus clearing the way for divine energy to begin its descent downward through the vertical passageway of the Vav toward and into us!

This is perhaps why the middle letter of the hebrew word for empathy, HOD is the letter VaV.

Lets take a few moments sometime today, while the energy of HOD is at its strongest, freshly arrived in the planetary awareness, to close our eyes and breathe softly for a few moments.

Then start to visualize G-d as a force of empathy, truly seeing exactly what we lack, what we need, and how we need it- we can imagine this vague force start to take on the shape of the Vav of G-ds name- descending, downward toward us, entering into our souls- feeling ourselves filling up with a deep faith, that through G-ds infinite Chesed, we will be led out of the dark spaces, into the shining tender light of our brightest day.

Take a moment to soak in that feeling of being held and truly seen by G-d.

Then, armed with the VAV of G-ds name,The VAV of Hod Empathy, and the VAV of hooking in-

ask yourself if there are perhaps other ways that you can deepen the connection with the people around you, to hook back into them, in more meaningful and thoughtful ways- getting another chance to work your way back into the lives of those that matter the most!

Happy Chesed of Hod
Much Love,
Rabbi Yossi

About the Author
Rabbi Yossi Lipsker is the co-founder and executive Director of Chabad of the North Shore and spiritual leader of the Chabad Community Shul. He can be reached at