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“Moderation”/ M'tinut

“Moderation”/ M'tinut- 12th century scholar Maimonides writes: “The path of the upright is one of moderation in every trait. . .” The word he uses here for “moderation” is the Hebrew Sh’vil Ha-zahav, or “the golden mean.” This middle path between the extremes is his goal for everything in life, including our modern excesses listed above. If we eat too much or too little, we are out of balance. If we celebrate too much or too little, we are also out of balance. Finding the middle point, the sh’vil ha-zahav, conversely, brings us wholeness, holiness and peace.

Another word for moderation is m’tinut, as in the teaching of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Satanov. He writes: “Let your heart not be reckless nor your mouth be hasty. Rather, pause several times while speaking or acting so as to moderate and calm yourself.” Moderation thus also becomes a value for how we interact with other people. By thinking before we respond, we are creating a healthy balance in our relationships.

One of the wonders of the Hebrew language is that words are so rich in meaning. M’tinut can convey a sense of moderation, patience, restraint, or slowing down. The same root letters also give us the word matan, or gift.

As we welcome in the month of December, I encourage all of us to see “The Golden Mean” as a valid option for a month often marked by excesses. And . . . to understand that moderation (m’tinut) can be a true gift (matan)..

Happy Channukah,

Your Temple Adat Elohim Clergy

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