Let My People Know

"There is a difference between sensitivity and compassion"

One facet of Gevurah is that of the feminine, as opposed to the masculine facet of Chesed. 

Here one has to remember that in Kabbalah we cannot apply the same rigidity of thought as in biology. 

What is of value for our purpose is the fact that the relationship between male and female is one of the most rudimentary ones in an extremely complex system of relations, human and otherwise. 

It is human and beyond the human also in the way we divide the lines of the Sefirot into masculine and feminine forces, as influencing factors and those receiving influence, as right and left.

It is interesting that in this framework of Jewish writings, woman, the feminine aspect, belongs to Gevurah (Strength) and man belongs to Chesed (Love). 

Gevurah, which is also severity and justice, seems to be the essential quality of the woman, whereas Grace and Mercy, the so-called softhearted aspect of human character, is considered essentially masculine. 

This seeming paradox is resolved by the idea that women are more sensitive but not necessarily more compassionate. 

There is a difference between sensitivity and compassion, between delicacy of perception and kindness of heart (chesed). 

Grace or Chesed is a definite Attribute, whereas sensitivity is something else; it is a capacity that is not connected to any particular attribute or quality structure. 

People can be sensitive in terms of any trait or tendency within the framework of the intrinsic quality of their souls. 

They can be more or less sensitive in their expressions of Chesed or Gevurah. 

Persons who are easily stirred emotionally, whose enthusiasms are rapidly kindled or who are quick to fall in love, are sensitive.

That is, they have a delicate reaction system, a more sensitive physical-nervous system. 

This does not belong to an inner soul quality, which remains the same whether sensitive or not. 

And, of course, the matter of men and women is not the important thing here. 

The essential principle is that the relation between Chesed and Gevurah is a relation between that which gives influence and that which receives influence.

Only in this way is it considered a male—female relationship. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From In the Beginning by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz