haYom chamisha v’esrim yom, sh’heim sh’losha shavuot v’arba’a yomim, laOmer: netzach she b’netzach

“i will multiply, multiply your pain in pregnancy; in painstaking-labor shall you bear children”

likewise Adam would get food from the ground only through painstaking-labor (Genesis 3:16).  the same hebrew root is used in both cases…what i’ve translated as ‘painstaking-labor’ is also just ‘pain’, ‘suffering’, ‘travail’ (labor/pain as one word!), or ‘anguish’. the point is that endurance and persistent effort will be required….not just physical pain but psychic pain….and only with great effort will the necessary and the good be brought forth.  whenever you need sustenance…whenever you seek to reproduce….no gain without pain.

but in each case, there is reward, yes? children and, well, food. for the People, who would know repeated and sustained exile from their Land, the pain of exile, first in slavery, then in persecution, and finally in genocide would have to be endured to attain the ambition of return. child-bearing yields stronger women; slavery, persecution and genocide ultimately yielded a stronger People.

“exile contains redemption within itself, as seed contains the fruit. right work and abiding diligence wil bring forth the hidden reward.”

none other than the Gerer rebbe so taught. netzach in netzach is abiding diligence, enduring effort, with confidence (“bitachon”) that you are able, through your abiding diligence, to effect the ultimate reward, of course with G’d’s help, no matter how hidden. this actually is a great summation of the cosmos in kabbalistic terms, for the work of tikkun olam (‘repair of the world’…’rectification of time and space’), the very reason for human existence,  is touched with eternity and unending effort and intensity. but so is the redemption.

it is very important to remember that reward is explicit in the banishment from Eden, painstaking-labor, yes, but IN IT you shall bear children and bring forth your living. it is not endurance, perseverence, abiding for its own sake! consider the words of the insight of r’ Henoch of Alexander:

“the real exile of Israel in Egypt was that they had learned to endure it”

there is no sense of endurance for it’s own sake in netzach. no sense of purgative suffering, rather it is a tool of spiritual ambition, “ratzon” (‘desire’ or ‘will’) directed toward getting at a better end. walking longer each day and more humbly with your G’d requires bitachon and netzach: confidence and abiding diligence. again with the Heschel, who points out that “our task is…to change, not only to accept; to augment, not only to discover the glory of G’d.”

“i believe with complete faith in the coming of Moshiach, and even though (s)he may tarry, i anticipate every day that (s)he will come”

the jude abides, man

which will also bring us to bitachon redux in hod she b’netzach tomorrow…. 

mussar for netzach she b’netzach

with another….bein adam l’chaveiro    are there some people you can barely stand to listen to? some you regularly brush off? resolve today the change that relationship and tolerate, even with painstaking-labor your interactions until such time as you see what it is they bring in G’d’s world. it will be something you never imagined.

with yourself….bein adam l’atzmo     bring bitachon (‘confidence’) in the coming of Moshiach to your practice today. bring it to your prayers. bring it to bear in the kavannah you bring to all your doings of good and your avoidance of evils. just bring it.

kabbalah for netzach she b’netzach

in assiyah….the world of doing/completion    the traditional ideal is to make your life a continuous kiddush haShem (‘sanctification of G’d’s Name’), not through martyrdom, but through endurance, strength and persistance for you ambition to cleave to G’d. step one, however, is ceasing to do chillul haShem (‘desecration of G’d’s Name’) in your habits…many of which are as hidden to you as is the Presence of G’d, no doubt. contemplate on the many desecrations you do regularly, ferret them out with deep contemplation of your actions, and imagine how you would go about curbing and then abolishing them.

in yetzirah….the world of feeling/formation   kabbalah teaches that each of us has a soul ‘root’ that extends back into and through Adam and Chava and up into the realm of G’d. dwell on how this root draws you into the time of Eden….and what can you draw back from the experience into your life today?

in b’riyah….the world of thought/creation    the rabbis ethan and joel coen didn’t just pull “the dude abides” out of thin air, you know. consider Psalm 102:26ff), which describes how the earth and the heavens are  G’d’s handiwork….”even all this will perish, but you will endure”.  haDude abides. meditate on what this means for how you divide your intellectual time….are overinvested in that which will perish?

in atzilut….the world of nearness to G’d/intuition   soul and body are interincluded and utterly real. each matters, each supports the efforts of the other in growing near to G’d. but spirit abides in “l’olam” (‘forever’), whereas body abides in “ba’olam” (‘the world’), and G’d is G’dself abiding in olam as “helem” (‘hidden’).  meditate on how your walk with G’d partakes now of l’olam, now of ba’olam, and even now and then of olam/helem.

kinyan 25 of 48 ways to acquire Torah

Samei’ach b’Chelko….Being Happy with One’s Lot.   the very well know story goes like this: the Chofetz Chaim (renowned author of Chafetz Chaim on the halachah of evil speech, Mishna Berura  commentary on the Shulchan Aruch, and Ahavat Chesed on the commandment of lending mondy to the needy, among many other texts) wanted to change the world when he was a boy. at some point he saw that that ambition might be a bit too bid, so he resolved to change just the people in his town….likewise with limited success. sho he decided instead to change his own family.  even that proved elusive, so the Chofetz Chaim finally decided to focus on changing jut himself…and THAT was the ticket to changing the world of traditional jewish practice through his saintly example in living his own life and  his voluminous but accessible teaching.

“ben Zoma said: ‘who is rich? those who are happy with their portion’

(Shabbat 32a)