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In Search of........the Better Me

Sunday, 27 April, 2008 - 8:47 pm

Tonight, we enter the Omer's second week (please see Torah thought of 4/17 for a brief explanation of the Omer).

The Omer is an analysis of our emotional 'tools'. I, My higher Self, am not the tools; I am the User.

I am not my behavior. But my Higher 'I' - my 'internal traffic-controller' - needs to consistently monitor my behavior and keep it aligned with my principles.

This week, we explore the psycho-spiritual energy: 'Gevurah'.

'Gevurah' translates as 'strength'. But, as an internal dynamic, I believe it is best described as 'breaking free'.

A simple example, as a follow-up to last week's 'closeness' exercise (please see last week's Omer message): Being self-aware, you’ll notice that when you’re in ‘closeness mode’ you need to calibrate; one needs to occasionally ‘break free’ of  the closeness rhythm to allow for the other person’s space. That’s Gevurah; and there Gevurah means respect.

Do we leave space for our loved ones to be themselves? Do we make space in our conversations, to really hear them when they speak?

Apart from love, the human psyche has other powerful – often counter-productive - forces: Pride, ambition, jealousy, appetite etc. Whenever we break free of those strong internal patterns, we're exercising Gevurah – self-restraint.

When a social setting is 'compelling you’ to say something disagreeable (or to betray a confidence etc), do you 'break free' by restraining yourself?

Similarly: There's a natural tendency to react to a [perceived] provocation; which is allowing the situation to control you. When we pro-actively – and courageously - choose a proper response (which may mean silence), that's Gevurah.

Gevurah is avoiding confrontation out of strength, not fear. It's taking your life back from the situation’s grip.

A slightly different side of the same internal flow: When we pray or meditate, we need to break free of life's tumultuous tide to find inner quiet. That's Gevurah.

The bottom line is that it takes great internal strength to break free of a pattern, habit or stream of life.

In the words of the Talmud: “Who is valiant? One who conquers one’s impulses”.

But Gevurah isn't only an inward motion (self-restraint etc), it also flows outward.

The human psyche is prone to inertia; the status quo is comfortable and movement takes effort.

'Breaking free' means passion (where our ‘internal traffic-controller’) deems appropriate). When our blood begins pumping, when we feel excited and emotionally engaged, that's Gevurah.

Disciplined or passionate, it’s a time for authentic strength.

 Have a meaningful Omer week.

 Rabbi Mendy

Comments on: In Search of........the Better Me

Mendy wrote...

In Jewish tradition, our three Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – correspond to the first three psycho-spiritual attributes – Chesed, Gevurah and Tiferet.
Last week, we explored Chesed, which is – in its purest sense – unequivocal love and connectedness. This reflects Abraham’s selfless love for the Divine and for humanity at large.
Gevurah, which we’ve just explored, is reflective of Isaac.
The Scripture tells us very little about Isaac. But, looking at the sparse Scriptural information we have, much of it describes – interestingly enough – Isaac’s well-digging prowess. Why is well-digging such a prominent biographical feature of this central figure in the world’s history?
Our Gevurah exploration – and the Isaac/Gevurah connection - shed some light on this.
The process of finding water hidden beneath the ground, and releasing it from its earthly hold, symbolizes the breaking free of Gevurah. Picture a geyser, the energetic release of water shooting up from the ground. That’s the picture of your soul breaking free of its human traps. It’s a picture of Gevurah.
Isaac is also described as blind. He was an introspective person, searching to find himself and his connection with the Divine. The upward surge – the Gevurah motion – of Prayer was his primary modality. Hence, again, the Isaac/Gevurah connection.


Mendy wrote...

When the Talmud describes G-d’s bestowing of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, it uses the language “[hearing the Commandments from] the Gevurah’s Mouth” (Talmud – Shabbat 88b).
The Talmud uses ‘Gevurah’ as an appellation – a nickname as it were – for G-d. Why?
Chabad thought gives an interesting insight:
In the nature of the cosmos, the Infinite and the finite shouldn’t really have an interface. How can a truly Infinite Being interact with a limited human? It shouldn’t be possible. Sensory overload is putting it way too mildly.
Yet, in giving the Torah, G-d ‘broke away’ from the Infinite mode, to give of Himself to us, the finite. Through investing Himself in the Torah, G-d gave of Himself to us.
G-d’s ‘breaking away’ from the pure Infinite reality is reflected in the Talmud’s choice of the word Gevurah to describe the Divine.
In addition, the Torah stimulates ‘Gevurah’ within its recipients. When we recognize that Mitzvos are a bridge to the Infinite, a bond with G-d, it should create a surge within us to ‘break away’ from mundane life to connect with the Infinite.