haYom sh’mona v’esrim yom, sh’heim arba’a shavuot, laOmer: malchut she b’netzach

I am the Infinite One who makes All”

“who stretched forth the heavens alone; who spread abroad the earth by myself”

who, in fact, “formed each of us from the womb”, as it is written in Isaiah 44:24ff,  who “says to the Deep: ‘be dry, and i will dry up your rivers”.  this is absolute sovereignty, absolute eternity…infinitude is the ultimate endurance. and only One Who Creates a Womb Within (through tzimtzum, ‘internal withdrawal’ to create nonG’d space for Creation) can claim to have brought forth everything according to G’d’s own desire….and due to G’d’s absolute will to share love with Creation.

malchut in netzach has this aura of sovereign eternity following only self-same ends, motivated by nothing external to itself, beholden to nothing other. this is strength. and as we imitate the aspects of G’d, it is for us to find a way to bring an evocation of this majesty into our own way of walking, humbly, with that absolute Creator…..who nonetheless desires us to walk alongside!…or maybe just a tad behind as we are always following in G’d’s way.

the Sefer haBahir (Mishnah 22) interprets these verses in a useful way for us, explaining that the Sovereign We actually had a more down to earth end in mind:

“it was I alone who planted the tree of existence, so that the entire universe would derive pleasure from it. and I carved everything within this tree, and called its name The All. because the very existence of all is suspended from this tree; all come from it, all are in need of it, all gaze upon it with hope, and all souls are derived from it”

Avatar, anyone?  there is nothing new, apparently, even under alien suns….but this rerendering by the author of the Bahir gives us not only a technical tie-in of the sefirotic tree and Creation, but also some very human sounding options to consider. for us the existence of All is to be experienced in pleasure and with hope. hope and pleasure might well be the Indwelling Presence within Endurance, for they are the unexpected, the purposive, the nonrational, unpredictable, not rationally looked for aspects within the random system of our understanding of Creation.

how do hope and pleasure dwell with randomness in so many aspects of the underlying realities of the world?  we have most of us experienced how the world bustles on around us even thought the news dishes up tragic stories nightly. 20 dead in a traffic accident here…..so, like, where should we go for lunch?  tsunami inundates fukushima and the nuclear reactors are seriously compromised….i am SOOOO looking forward to Midnight in Paris…have you seen it? i hear that its woody’s best picture ever.

there is a spiritual source behind our ability to be aghast and then move on. we are created to not only serve, and to do justice, love kindness, but to also walk humbly with G’d….and to do that we have to be able to derive pleasure and gaze to the future with hope….lest we become self-righteous, or so troubled by the brokenness of the world that we can find no pleasure in it.  THAT is not humility in the walk; normality is.

we often see the Divine Presence in the wonderful event….the happiness of a new marriage, the birth of a child….but we must also see the Divine Presence in the bad situation calling out for our help. the good times ought to be a nudge to us to step up to that other call in the bad times…..we serve G’d in The All. and it is precisely the pleasure and the hope that gives us the ability to face the bleak and the dark.

those who make volunteering a regular part of their weekly schedule know this. they see how the one feeds the strength for the other. and those who bring their persistent strength to bear in acts of good know the sovereignty in the quiet call to justice, to mercy, to caring and compassion. and after they have given? they can laugh again without regret, or guilt. as you serve the needy, you hope for their pleasure….you hope for their hope.

Shechinah is a mom. ruling one minute over a birthday party, the next over an emergency trip to the hospital for an unforeseen tumble. to and fro. pleasure to hope….and back again. mom’s rule because they endure….they are all malchut in netzach.

mussar for malchut she b’netzach

with another…..bein adam l’chaveiro    make it a practice to donate an amount equal to one of your entertainments in each week. that is a material/spiritual way to link the pleasure and hope to the just and kind, and to acknowledge the sovereign persistence of G’d in All.

with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo   make it a practice to say “b’ezrat haShem’ (‘with the help of G’d’) when you give an assurance that you will do something, or make a promise. including when you make a date to go out and have some fun.

kabbalah for malchut she b’netzach

in assiyah….the world of doing/completion    you have a personal share in the root of Shechinah through you indwelling nefesh.  the ruach, the emotional soul, may flit about, but the nefesh abides.in fun and pain, in effortless and in effort. meditate on this personal indwelling presence of G’d.

in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation    when we see the light of recognition in a student’s eyes, or see someone on the mend making progress in physical therapy, do we worry about the failure and the difficulties that are still to come for that student or that patient? no, we smile and know the pleasure of recognizing a small bit of fixing in a broken world. and we spur on with hope and encouragement. “b’ezrat haShem, you can do it!”  meditate on how we can bring ready openness to pleasure to all the situations we or others around us face that need hope…that seem distant to pleasure.

in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation     we see bumper stickers urging us to do “random acts of kindness”. but we are after sustaining kindness, enduring compassion, sovereign  loving. contemplate how to bring the spirit of “randomness” productively to your sustaining kindnesses….(hint: think One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and learn pleasure and hope in hardship).

in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition    the Kotzker teaches that “G’d dwells/abides wherever/whenever we let G’d in”.  for some G’d is invited when they are happy; for others when they are sad and in need. Song of Songs teaches “the voice of my Beloved, here it comes”,  suggesting that G’d is ever arriving in the moment. can you lay out a welcome mat worthy of The All?

kinyan 28 of 48 ways to acquire Torah

Ahuv….Being Beloved.   combining pleasure with hope and persistence was not alien to the Rabbis, or to our Foreparents. consider this from Avot d’Rabbi Natan 31:

“3 things make a person beloved: an open hand, a set table, and a sparkling wit”

and open hand is both cheerful greeting and generous giving; a set table is both hospitality in entertaining and planning/readiness to meet needs; a sparkling wit is both bon vivance and humble compassion (“splendor” of hod and “brilliance”  of tiferet)

so, what do you think?

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