haYom sh’monah asar yom, sh’heim sh’nei shavuot v’arba’ah yomim, laOmer: netzach she b’tiferet

“there is no light as brilliant as that light that emerges from out of the darkness”

the Holy Zohar (vol 3, folio 47b) brings this teaching to illustrate the importance of challenging the obstacles that face all of us in rectifying our spiritual traits and in learning to walk more humbly with G’d. essentially, the more difficult the obstacle overcome, the more powerful the rectification…..it is the effort that matters and not simply the achievement (see Avot 5:26). the example given is none other that the power of G’d, who brought light to the tohu v’bohu, bringing it out of utter darkness and absence of light.

r’ Tarfon offers a variation on the theme of struggle, also in Pirkei Avot (2:20): “yours is not to finish the task, yet neither are you free to desist from it.”  it is the effort that matters most…..always walking humbly, never ceasing from the great task of doing the Way to repair the world.

netzach in tiferet is the courage to fight the good fight for compassion and the beauty it brings in truth. it is NOT easy to be compassionate to all always. anyone can find a situation or person or circumstance that is so personally revolting that we must struggle mightily to overcome loathing in order to do the compassionate good. i will never forget the scene in the film ‘Ben Hur’ in which Judah finally resolves to go deep into the dank, close cave in the valley of lepers to rescue his sister, going from disease-ridden, curtained shelter to shelter, viewing countless suffering in eaten away flesh and despair, and ultimately putting himself in direct contact with his nearly dead sister by lifting her and carrying her out of the cave. netzach came to me right then and there.

in netzach we channel our desire to risk-taking to rip off the husks that conceal the still burning embers of Divine Light. the compassion is all the greater for the force that must be brought to bear to make it happen in the world.

but few of us will face the valley of the lepers. most of us will have to battle a far more insidious enemy to strive to bring tiferet to all our waking moments: the world of distraction, convenience, conventional thinking, indolence, listlessness, ennui, inertia and habit. habit is the great enemy, for it is mindlessness reminding itself only of itself in an endless feedback loop of unthinking regularity and familiarity.

compassion withers in the face of this sort of wasting away to what is less than your soul-self. doing compassion takes effort and time. it is inconvenient almost always. it has to get in your way, get in your face. netzach is the courage of your compassion. the resolve to stay balanced, to persist,  and to make harmony where none is yet found. it is steel in the magnolia.

mussar for netzach she b’tiferet

netzach-tiferet with another….bein adam l’chaveiro    we love to argue, don’t we? try to find the truth (the tiferet) in opposing opinions within your familiy or with a friend or acquaintance.  s0metimes the compromise reached is its own new truth.

netzach-tiferet with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo    bring to mind 2 mitzvot: 1 that you already do, and 1 that you know you should do but dont. analyze the 1 you already do and understand why you do it. can you bring that understanding and make it bear upon the mitzvah you don’t yet do?  (yes, i said ‘yet’.)

kabbalah for netzach she b’tiferet

in assiyah….the world of doing/completion   humans are full of underused brainpower and undeveloped potentials…this is true in soul as well. netzach must be applied to get that indwelling couch potato nefesh up and moving in an unfamiliar direction. find something within you that you’ve expected/hoped you had, and plan a path to develop it.

in yetairah….the world of feeling/formation    remember a time when you had great clarity of purpose, and persistence of spirit to see some particular thing done. did it feel good? did you feel more powerful then? ambition is ok within spirit-driven ambition. remember that clear strong time, and enjoy the feeling again.

in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation    clarity and persistence sometimes happen by accident, but the spirit warrior will bring intention (‘kavanah’) to bear on potential and on power. apply cosmic intention to one of your best potentials or proven strengths and make it more. before you do the act next time, say that you are doing it to restore harmony of the Creation with the Creator…..and mean it.

in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition    gravity continues to hold you to the surface of the earth. your electrons don’t just linger in some improbable positions. you wake up breathing, your heart still sending oxygen to the farthest corners of you being. there is netzach within and without you always…quietly persisting, driving. recreating. meditate on this.

kinyan 18 (am yisrael chai!) of 48 ways to acquire Torah

Miyut Sichah….Moderation in Speech.   sometimes it is just a matter of slowing it down. those of us who have overcome a stutter, or who still tend to stammer, have practiced for years to slow down our speech pattern to establish better breath control and to bring room for easing into sounds. how silly is it that we don’t ordinarily bring a similar discipline to the content of what we say and the frequency with which we say it?  if you wish to speak with soul deliberation, you will weigh your words on the scale of truth (tiferet) before you speak them at all.

so, what do you think?

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