“who is like You? glorious in holiness, awesome in praises, doing wonders?”
it is on the 7th day of passover that the Israelites found themselves between the sea and the army of pharaoh. G’d acted profoundly on the part of the People, splitting the waters of the sea to allow passage for the Israelites, and then sending the waters crashing down again on the army of pharaoh, destroying them utterly. at this moment, the People Israel knew that a new relationship had most certainly been established…a new yesod, ‘foundation’ established for a holy relationship between the two.
among sefardim, this day is known is known as Yom Vayyosha, ‘the day of the song of the sea’. aside from the song that we know in Torah, there is a ladino tune, Ketuba del Seten Dia de Pesah, or ‘Ketubah for the 7th Day of Passover,’ for this day is said to be day on which a marriage between the People and G’d was made. something foundational was established that day when the People broke out into spontaneous song at the awesome wonder of G’d who had just saved them from certain annihilation.
yesod is the sefirah of foundation. it is also the seat of sexual energy in the tree. and there is something very, very sexy in the intoxication of that 7th-day consummation. the incident at the sea produced an intimacy between the People and G’d that had not sprung from the plagues, had not sprung from Moshe’s return and proclamation of the immanent end of slavery, and had not sprung even from the beginning of the exodus from the land of Goshen. it was only in the exclusivity of the chesed shown in the division of the waters that the People came to know the Love that G’d held for them….a love once again as intimate and immediate as that between G’d and Avraham Avinu at the beginning of the jewish journey.
crossing the seabed was the ‘passover’, the pesach, the ‘leap’ from mitzrayim to “outside mitzrayim,” a going forth from the existence the People had been born into to a new life in which they would have to rely on their bound partner. just as one steps away one’s parents and family upon marriage, so does yesod in chesed urge us to consider founding and securing something new and awesome in love with our mate and with G’d. in judaism, marriage is associated with holiness. and the creative energy of sexuality is foundational for each couple in their marriage.
intimacy in love, the cleaving of mate with mate, is the closest our embodied spirits will get to the cleaving to G’d that we are urged to do. yesod is the strong foundation upon which the necessary mutual trust in love is built. yesod in chesed is enduring certainty in love.
mussar for yesod she b’chesed
yesod-chesed with another….bein adam l’chaveiro what happens in a relationship when chemistry moves into intimate contact? when interest becomes closeness? when separate souls cleave in married love? in the deep love of friendship? find a way to show how deep is your love for another today. do something that gets at the foundation of that love you share.
yesod-chesed with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo we all feel cornered sometimes. are you sometimes surprised by the parting of the waters that you fear will drown you? do you trust enough in G’d to open yourself up to faith? pray for an opening to the Holy One today….feel embraced.
kabbalah for yesod she b’chesed
in assiyah….the world of doing/completion one can only lead a life of chesed from a strong foundation. you need to feel a little secure in order to share deeply with others. the nefesh, the indwelling soul, is created uniquely for you and is your companion for life (and beyond). try to sense the nefesh of another today; then settle in your own indwelling soul and do some small kindness for the soul you find in the other.
in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation sexual energy is profoundly creative. but we all know that therein lies the potential for destruction as well. the life and death situation that faced the People deepened their faith profoundly. contemplate how you can use your sexual energy in ways that build holiness….what would it be to so secure in the foundation of your relationship that you could know or know again a holy lust?
in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation we say in the blessing before Torah study ‘la’asok b’Torah’, ie, to transact with Torah. but ayin-samekh-kuf has a slang meaning of have an ‘affair’. meditate on your marriage to Torah (Shavuot is coming!) but also contemplative the possible offspring of your affair with Torah….
in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition we have spoken of the need for an abiding faith, a steadfast, enduring trust in G’d….a faith that withstands slings and arrows of what seems like fortune, but is, as we must ultimate recognize, all G’dsend. ahavah and echad have the same value in standard gematria, which means that the Shema is telling us that G’d is love is the same as G’d is one. “Know this day, and lay it to your heart, that G’d is G’d in heaven above and upon earth beneath; there is none else” (Deuteronomy 4:39). meditate on the steadfastness of G’d’s love in both the good and the bad, for it is all one.
kinyan 6 of 48 ways to acquire Torah
Eimah… Being Awestruck. r’ chaim volozhin points out that G’d only resides in the 4 amot of halacha, hence, when studying Torah one should be in a state of awe not unlike that felt by the high priest on Yom Kippur. in yeshiva, we were urged to consider, whenever we would stray into some small idle talk, or daydream late in the day of study, whether we felt that G’d, who is sitting and studying with us after all, appreciated our ease in breaking off from study. what can one possibly reply, save to immediately re-busy ourselves in the text? being awestruck can be everyday when your worldview truly acknowledges how close G’d is to us in all our activities….and how much more so when we study. r’ avraham yehoshua heschel reminds us that “the question, ‘where shall wisdom be found?‘ is answered by the psalmist: “the awe of G’d is the beginning of wisdom.” so, you see, being awestruck is a powerful kinyan not only to the study of Torah, but also to the application of Torah!