“soon as they came to baal-peor, they separated (devoted) themselves unto the shameful thing”
we find that the prophet Hoshea (9:10) recalls the incident at baal-peor, which is famous for the action of Pinchas, who–not content to allow a prince of Israel to consort with his idolatrous prostitute–took a spear and skewered the two of them in flagrante delicto…..joined as one flesh in the grave. for this zealousaction, Pinchas is granted a “covenant of shalom” directly from G’d, and is made high priest.
not the sweetness and light you expect from the Bible? well, it is only one instance of a theme that carries throughout Torah: devotion, service, dedication, and confirmation are double-edged. they can be great love of G’d as mesirut (devoted), nazar (set apart, consecrated), cherem (designated gift for G’d), and avodah (worship); or they can be evil in the same way: traitor, separated as in alien, designated for utter destruction, and slavery, respectively. just like the latin “devote”, ‘addiction’ is the dark side of religious ecstasy.
netzach in yesod is the sort of powerful dedication and spirit behind enduring effort that can build a Temple or be enslaving, obsessive and distancing from G’d. time and again in Torah and afterward in jewish history, what gets the People into a bad way is to become devoted to the wrong, to the conventional, to the surrounding culture…or these days to secular consumerism and shabbat-evacuating activities like, oh, school sports (yes, i said it). channeling netzach in yesod correctly is important.
we jews are supposed to be bound to G’d….just consider t’fillin…bound to arm, hand, and head….modeling even our relationship with G’d to the erotic cleaving love of Song of Songs…
“i am my beloved’s and he/she is mine”
holds between humankind and G’d as well as between bride and groom. and we mean it. we contract it. we acquire it. we bind and covenant it. it is all good, but one can easily see the other side, the dark side of this tight holding and utter devotion if a little confusion…and an idol or 2…get’s tossed into the mix.
jewish practice requires sustained effort, difficult endurance, diligence, determination. it is not enough to be strong (netzach), you must also make the strength abide, endure, be established on a sound footing of study, prayer, meditation and community engagement (yesod). because of our foundational strengths and bonds of the Promise, we have recently returned to the Land of the Promise to Avraham Avinu. this is the great example of netzach in yesod.
we are still like the early american pilgrims in that we are a People of Industry, of slow, steady growth, and devotion to what seem impractical ideals until we realize them. good marriages are like G’d and Israel….for better or for worse. and sometimes it takes a Pinchas action to rectify a situation…the effort of the work on the spirit trait of netzach in yesod is to be ready and able and willing to do tikkun olam…the rectification work of thousands of generations…..abiding as a matter of constitutional makeup. and too dang ornery to die off.
mussar for netzach she b’yesod
with another….bein adam l’chaveiro reuse, recycle, renew. the environmentally conscious credo. conservation work, sustainability work, tackling greenhouse gases…these are gigantic worldly opportunities to practice netzach in yesod. whether the first step is leaving the car in the garage and extra day each month, or taking the time to drop off used clothing/furniture/computer equipment for a charity or recycling business requires strength in practice for a long haul to achieve the good resulets we all hope for. engage!
with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo be more holy because G’d is holy. commit to a long-term religious discipline. commit to a sustained charitable volunteer gig. commit to stop longing for what you ought not have. foundational strength….
kabbalah for netzach she b’yesod
in assiyah….the world of doing/completion many of us spent many years in school to master professions that we now base our entire livelihood on. others have been long-term supporters of the State of Israel. but all of this requires that we have the firm base of healthy strength and energy with which to improve the world in our particular way. but maintaining health is itself a marathon. build up your health today, for the sake of your family, of yourself, of your community, of generation of the clan not yet born.
in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation too many of us lead lives of quiet desperation. but finding the strength to call a spade a spade and speak out on oppression is difficult. choose an item needing stong, sustained, tight-bound effort and then walk the walk and talk the talk.
in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation it is said that the only reliably constant thing is change. might be so of much in the secular world, but in the religious world it needn’t be so. contemplate the comforting role of enduring practice on your everyday secular side.
in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition mind your breathing. listen to your pulse. regular, enduring, life-sustaining. you have built a lifetime to this point taking this foundational strength for granted. but you are granted only so many heartbeats, only so many breaths in a lifetime. meditate on how you can be for your family, your spouse, your community…the whole world in your little corner…as foundational as a heartbeat, as invigorating and sustaining as a breath.
kinyan 39 of 48 ways to acquire Torah
Ma’amido al haEmet….Setting/Leading Others to Truth. ma’amido is the same root as in “amidah” (‘standing prayer’), so this way could be called standing others to truth. standing them up to truth. hmm. can’t preach your way there, but you can be a living model of your own faith, your own learning, your own loving practice before G’d. you can stand for truth and give all around you the chance to see…simply, and without any self-righteousness. just walk humbly within community and those who can and would will see. you acquire Torah by helping others to it.
“then i bowed down and prostrated myself to G’d and blessed G’d, the God of my master Avraham, who led me on a true path to get the daughter of m master’s brother for his son.” (Genesis 24:48)