The Kabbalah teaches that people come under two personality types: chessed or gevurah.
A chessed type is someone who is giving and outward, generous and expressive. They are easy-going, spontaneous and free-spirited. But sometimes a bit all over the place.
A gevurah type is more inward and disciplined, controlled and contained. They are focused, predictable and dependable. And can tend to be a little square.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both. A gevurah person can organize a party. A chessed person will be the life of it. A gevurah person is good at writing budgets. A chessed person spends the money. You’d rather get a gift from a chessed person. You’d rather get a lift with a gevurah person.
When they work together, a chessed person and a gevurah person make a great team. Their opposite talents complement each other, and the one’s strengths compensate for the other’s weaknesses. But when it comes to time management, they will clash. A gevurah type arrives five minutes early. A chessed type is just getting ready to leave when they’re already five minutes late.
Tiferes is empathy, our sensitivity to others. It is the ability to transcend our nature by becoming more attentive to the needs of those around us. Instead of acting from my own instinct, tiferes allows me respond to my surroundings.
When a chessed person taps in to tiferes, he is no longer stuck in his own instinctive pattern of lateness. He can awaken some inner gevurah. His chessed nature won’t go away, but he can at least force himself to come on time, out of consideration for those gevurah people who will otherwise be waiting around for him.
Through Tiferet, a gevurah person can ease up on his late friend. His lateness is a part of the package, the fun-loving over-the-top spur-of-the-moment friend that you love. Teach him some gevurah, and learn a bit of chessed. He might still be late sometimes, but at least you’ll be more chilled about it.
Mendel Bluming, Maryland and RA”M