Day 13, April 28: The Yesod in Gevurah

Yesod literally means "Foundation." It is also associated with sexuality. And Gevurah, in some readings of the Sefirot, is associated with discernment (not a far cry from how we’ve been reading it until now: restraint).
For our consideration of "The Foundation within Discernment," I'm going to take the lead of Rabbi Min Kantrowitz. She speaks of what it means to have cultivated a strong inner foundation that informs our discernment, our choices. She points out that strong does not mean "rigid," and that, for example, a building that is too rigid may collapse in an earthquake, while one built with a flexible foundation may endure the shifting of tectonic plates. I am not arguing against having firm principles, but I am cautioning against the tendency for abstractions to blind us to what's really going on, when we succumb to the temptation to filter reality to fit a set of preconceptions!

To have a firm foundation is to make decisions from a place of calm and discernment, as opposed to a place of reactivity, frenzy, resentment or anxiety. Such a foundation must be deliberately cultivated. By working on making space in our lives for contemplation, quiet, prayer, meditation, Jewish learning and (as my teacher, Rabbi Jerome Malino of blessed memory, used to say, "reading uplifting literature") we can develop and strengthen a solid, inner foundation.

What gets in the way of growing our souls in this way? As Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg puts it on one of her meditation CD's, "conversation, busyness of various kinds, the media, this and that..." All of these distractions and temptations pull us away from developing our inner lives, building a strong, inner foundation that will give us a place to stand, a vantage point from which to view our thoughts and feelings, see the landscape of our lives, and make wiser decisions with a sense of clarity and kavvanah (intention).

How do you cultivate a Yesod (foundation) that strengthens your Gevurah (discernment, restraint)?

Eager to hear from you!

Rabbi Steve Folberg

PS: Tomorrow I leave for an IJS rabbinic retreat. I’m not sure what the Internet situation at the retreat center will be, so in the event that this blog goes dark for a few days, that’ll be the reason. But I hope not!
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