haYom sh’losha v’esrim yom, sh’heim sh’losha shavuot ush’nei yomim, laOmer: gevurah she b’netzach

“how long shall the Land mourn and the herbs of the whole field wither?”

and all due to the prospering of the wicked and the wickedness they bring to the Land simply by dwelling in it.  so asks Jeremiah (12:4) of G’d. why is it that bad people sometimes seem to do just fine, and good people seem to suffer?  and it gets worse, for only a few verses later G’d tells Jeremiah that he is throwing Israel to the birds of prey and to the beasts of the field. it is very, very bleak:

“i have given the dearly beloved of My Soul into the hand of her enemies”

it don’t get no worser than that. so we have in chapter 12 a battle of the endurance fighters: in one corner Jeremiah on behalf of the People, and in the other G’d, who has endured His People’s failure to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with G’d. to which will come victory….victory as in netzach?  not victory as in a prizefight, but victory touched with eternity?

G’d is practicing gevurah she b’netzach, for G’d’s promise to the People is covenantal, and the heritage cannot be forever revoked, or, ch’v, cancelled. the Land is the Land of the Promise, after all. what is happening herein is cosmic tough love.

for you see, Jeremiah is missing the point, really. the People suffer, absolutely. but to frame it as he has is to ignore Torah by suggesting that Torah is abrogated by G’d, in a way. the wicked are prospering; the good suffer…sup w’dat? the Land will not bear/cannot bear its fruits, hence we can’t bring things like, well, the omer, or the minchah of shavuot and its famous requirement for 2 loaves. cain’t do it, G’d, cuz we is suffrin sumthin awful under yer wrath.

really? REALLY? let’s do a little Torah 101 and see wherein the real suffering and the real enduring toward netzach….

” I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. now choose life…”

choose life that you and your children may live. this is the G’dfather of all offers that one can’t refuse. G’d’s answer to Jeremiah’s question as to how long must the Land mourn is simple: until you do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with Me.

gevurah in netzach calls us to consider whether our endurance, whether our spirit forces, are directed against proper obstacles or not, and whether they are focused at the right time.  we, none of us, don’t need no stinkin jeremiads….stop with your kvetching and consider carefully redirecting your energies to do what you KNOW should be done…and helping others to do so too…

“G’d has told you, o man, what is good….”

and you should prepare to endure anything to do what is good. therein is the discipline of your perseverence. therein is the potential for victory that is touched by eternity and cosmic effects, for only G’d’s way can share in eternity. knowing, sincerely knowing that G’d has told you what’s what (now go study) alone should give you some mighty bitachon, some mighty confidence that persistent effort will pay off. what is stunning is that discernment in netzach is not so very hard, for G”d has told you what is good!  it don’t no plainer than that. baruch haShem.

mussar for gevurah she b’netzach

with another….bein adam l’chaveiro    what is hard about netzach and gevurah in it, is doing the good in the face of powerful sentiment in the souls of those around you  against it. the unconventional step is hard to take against peer pressure….but justice is, and mercy is, and humility is….each as real as the person who tells you they are not. but you must choose life for the sake of future generations as well as your own. better yet, help your neighbor choose life too!

with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo    consider why it seems to be that resolutions come and go, but goals are pursued. think about it. how many goals have you pursued and celebrated in the achievement? and resolutions?  resolutions are pointless unless there is t’shuvah (‘repentance” with a goal to do better next time). confess the wrong, apologize, and set the goal to not fail in that particular again. plot a goal in t’shuvah today…don’t wait til Yom Kippur!

kabbalah for gevurah she b’netzach

in assiyah….the world of doing/completion    goals are strategic, but there must be tactics in support of the strategy. you must decide small actions to take on the way to a larger goal of spiritual improvement. what gevurah in netzach brings is the attention and the temimut haratzon (‘sincerity in desire’) to determine all the steps you must take to achieve a goal…no matter how long it takes; no matter how many false starts; no matter what else must also change for the good in some small way in support of the greater good.  recall a goal that you met through careful, stepwise planning. devise the plan to apply that same approach to a spirit goal.

in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation    consider how temimut (‘sincerity’) in bitachon (trust-born, faith-born ‘confidence’) will keep you from hubris. from the showoff goal. KNOW WELL that your choice in improving your spirit traits comes down to choosing between a blessing and a curse…comes down only to choosing life. maybe not quite so easy, but the principle is….sincere confidence and cheer in pursuit of life through self-improvement is no vice!

in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation    Thoreau teaches that “the unexamined life is not worth living”.  is the “unexamined choice of life, the unexamined choice of blessing”  also not worth choosing? consider this.

in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition    we generally hold to Lao Tzi’s old saying “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” to practice gevurah in netzach is sometimes to simply choose your first step. meditate on the your possible first steps toward achieving your nesxt spirit goal. can you discern which is best easily?

kinyan 23 of 48 ways of acquiring Torah

Kabbalat haYisurin….Acceptance of Suffering.  the most commonplace practice of gevurah she b’netzach is in putting the leisure we would prefer away in order to go to work, to do homework, to file our tax return. this is so in the perpetual contest of material comfort against spiritual uplift. we know which one is better for us (‘G’d has shown you…’), but we also know which one is easier, more comfortable, less effortful….it is so in spades with the study of Torah. Torah is not easy. it is profoundly weird, and dense and cryptic….and has required the combined effort of thousands of the most brilliant scholars that the People has produced just to explain something as simple as kosher slaughter. you just kill that critter, right?  not quite. and to study the ways of Torah means giving up some time with a virtual game or a consumer activity that leaves you with cool new stuff. remember this watchword:

“gam zu l’tovah” (Ta’anit 21a). ‘even this is for good’ 

4 thoughts on “haYom sh’losha v’esrim yom, sh’heim sh’losha shavuot ush’nei yomim, laOmer: gevurah she b’netzach

  1. So bad things happen to good people cause G_d is trying to teach them a “lesson,” i.e. they must follow G_d’s commandments; and sometimes bad people are left off the hook cause G_d has given up on them…or perhaps they are part of the “test” for those who G_d feels still have a chance at Netzach? Or is this just a case of an attempted explanation analogous to trying to explain happenings a la Murphy’s law – where if one were to look at randomness and probabilities better the seeming disparity between bad things happening to good people and to bad people vanishes?

    reb yesif

    • you are asking a question that is not the point of the lesson exactly, but let’s take it up briefly. bad things happen to all; good things happen to all. rocks fall due to structural fault and gravity. if you are standing under it unaware, you will get squashed. THAT isn’t what we are talking about here.

      when bad things happen on the scale of the complete exile of a People from the Presence of G’d and from the Land gifted to them, well, yes, a bunch of somebodies messed up pretty bad. that IS what the rest of jeremiah is about.

      you and i know the answer, baruch haShem: a few thousand years later, a remnant of the People would still be looking to the Promise, would return to the Land with the netzach (determination) to make the desert bloom….and build a larger just democracy, and practice rachamim in international outreach way out of proportion to their size and numbers, and walking humbly….well, that is still a work in progress…

      but the post is about where jeremiah’s netzach is and how badly he is applying gevurah. he sees not drought, but that the Land is “mourning”, refusing to produce even what is needed for offerings. ok, so the Land is mourning and isn’t just a simple drout, jeremiah, so what are you gonna do about it?

      he eventually gets it right, bravely prophesying the Word of G’d in the face of great personal suffering….urging repentance, the doing of justice, the craving for compassion, and return to the walk….but at the juncture cited he is strong in pain and weak in recovery.

      we don’t want to invest strength in pain when bad things happen. we want to invest strength in recovery. and we should be using gevurah justly to hold out compassion to those who are still in their pain.

      jeremiah was a navi, he and G’d had each other’s ear, so to speak, his stepping up to Way set up the People for the eventual return, but he had to rectify his gevurah in netzach and work toward the long (in this case very long) view.

  2. So instead of feeling sorry for one self in times of trouble – and asking “why me G_d”…use netzach and apply gevurah to move yourself to a place of positive energy…..find the walk…and in this way contribute to teshuva…..carrying this a bit further…if one is not walking the walk…one is in a time of trouble….

    • apply gevurah in netzach, directing your strength to what will bring good…..now here may be the harder part…you may be directing strength to what will bring good, but not necessarily for you. or directly. or even immediately understandably. that is where the concept of netzach as bitachon helps, i think. you have strength in your faith in G’d, and confidence in the effects of walking humbly with G’d even if you may not know the good. the walk is still having effects in the worlds.

      and, yes, if you are not walking at all, that too creates ripples and a time of trouble…though you may not be the one who recognizes what you will have wrought. every action in this world (including inaction) has effect in this world and those beyond.

so, what do you think?

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