haYom shiv’a v’esrim yom, sh’heim sh’losha shavuot v’shisha yomim, laOmer: yesod she b’netzach

“i will betroth You to me in righteousness, in justice, in kindness, and in mercy”

this is one of several verses from Hosea (2:21ff) that we say when we are wrapping the t’fillin strap around our middle finger….making a ring.  yesod is the level of foundation and of the figurative genitalia. and our relationship to G’d, as r’ Akiva pointed out in insisting that Song of Songs be included in the canon, is as one lover to another. this relationship is Holy of Holies, in a way….a boundless love for G’d, and by G’d for G’d’s People.

“the entire universe is unworthy of the day that the Song of Songs was given”

so what are we to make of this (Yadayim 3:5ff)?  perhaps, that we should be very serious when we marry. it is not called kiddushin (‘holiness’ and part of the wedding ceremony that gives its name to the whole) for nothing, fot it reflects the love of G’d for us….in good times and bad….in sickness and in health.

the love between the well-wedded is the one place wherein we can all see enduring victory built upon the most solid of foundations, spiced with the delight of lovemaking and the promise of yet another life-long covenantal love relationship with the children of the marriage.  all yesod in netzach, all the time! baruch haShem!

but we know that the conventional sociological view of modern marriage seems to show us something very different….something built on shifting sands in an active seismic zone.  no clear foundation…no enduring….no touch of eternity in G’d.

the problem seems to be that yesod is the seat of the ego and the associated genitalia. we know that each of those can go oh so wrong, but when the ego is confident (netzach) but not overweening, and a touch of a real notion of eternity in acknowledgement of G’d, there is foundational reliability (yesod) in the loins….probably literally and figuratively. the touch of eternity matters fundamentally, for it is also the suggestion that the ego, the individual will,  is superceded by something….if by nothing else than by the relationship and the other to whom one is convenanted. seems so easy to grasp, yet we fail in it so often. Rachel weeps for lack of children; Leah weeps for lack of her husband’s love. Sarah laughs at the possibility of offspring in senescence, and Rivka had to intervene in a father-son relationship for the sake of both of them. marriage is a life-long wrestle….in and out of the sack….that is the enduring bedrock of Creation. think about it.

not perfect, marriage, but it really does work when people enter into covenant–not just lip service–through it. 2 souls, each retaining independence, nevertheless strive to become one flesh. the very model of cleaving to G’d. and in the parent-child relationships that come of marriage, there is the reiteration of Eden and the chance to do a better leave taking from it in each generation….less wandering…perhaps no wandering of Cain at all!

all relationships take part in this relationship, for all of us are either children of parents, or married and out of our parents home….or both….and this colors our capacity to love our neighbor as ourself in powerful ways.

and we experience the joys of stable relationships only to the degree that we mirror a good marriage in even our platonic relationships. mutual respect regards the yesod of each participant as something to be honored. compromise of self-centeredness is the directing of the capacity of netzach to tend to tolerance in persistence.

yesod in netzach gives each of us the potential for enduring victory, conditioned most directly by chesed and tiferet, by way of hod.

mussar for yesod she b’netzach

with another….bein adam l’chaveiro   is your individual strength, your netzach, strengthening the foundation, the yesod, of your relationships?  or are you overweening? if the latter, remember the covenant that underlies your friendship, or your marriage, or your parenting. remember that a covenant expects performance from both parties in balance. work on coming through on your initial promises in your relationships.

with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo    consider writing an ethical will (google it!) this week. the aspirational values statement that you would leave to your beloveds should you die. after you write it, consider how well you yourself live up to it.

kabbalah for yesod she b’netzach

in assiyah….the world of doing/completion    doesn’t the ideal of a solid foundation for your best ambitions seem wonderful? take stock of your ambitions for good and assess how solid are the foundations you have established for each. bolster the foundation of at least 1 that remains on shaky ground.

in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation    it is difficult to assess relationships sometimes, for they are always packed with memories and feelings. it can seem tiresome to even think about relationships after a number of years. yesod in netzach can also serve as a battery recharger, providing you with energy to examine your life in relationships, and come out stronger for the examination. how will you use your charge?

in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation       Ahad Ha’am said that “more than the jews have kept the sabbath, the sabbath has kept the jews”.  time is the touch of eternity that helps get each of us out of our self-relational space in place. contemplate how jewish time, the holy days, the rosh chodesh, the weekday reading schedule, affest the jewish psyche and soul.

in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition     for thousands of years, jews have been wrapping themselves in the leather straps of t’fillin and betrothing themselves to to G’d. put on your t’fillin today…borrow a pair if you haven’t any of your own–and meditate on yourself as the spouse of G’d.

“and i will betroth You to me in faithfulness….and you shall know G’d”

kinyan 27 of 48 ways to acquire Torah

Eino Machazik Tovah l’Atzmo….Claiming No Credit for Yourself.     ideally, each of us sits to learn Torah with a friend. the modern academic model of sitting down by yourself and reading silently is alien to the heart of judaism….we learn through public reading and arguing over Torah! it is a shared endeavor….like marriage!

“if you have studied much Torah, do not take credit for yourself, because that is what you were created to do”

so, what do you think?

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