A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth

A Kabbalistic Approach to Spiritual Growth: Part 62 – Connecting Heaven and Earth

This sixth skill of setting pace and priorities is related to the sefirah of yesod ("foundation"), which Kabbalah describes as a channel connecting the heavens with the earth, the mind/emotions with the body, and the giver with the receiver.

Yesod is the channel of will from the subconscious into conscious awareness. As such it relates to the nervous system. An unrectified personality exhibits agitation, restlessness, and impatience. A rectified personality is calm, peaceful, and patient. The more settled the educator, the deeper and more accurate his insights, particularly in relation to the proper choosing of priorities within the context of education. The teacher must also remember that in the student, change sometimes temporarily blocks the channel of yesod. When this happens, the teacher must take care to provide an alternative route of flow and expression to avoid psychological and spiritual damage.

Yesod also corresponds to the covenant of circumcision that represents the holy man (tzadik), who is called by King Solomon in the Proverbs the "foundation of the world." It is the tzadik's complete fixing of the covenant of circumcision–meaning his complete conquest of the sexual drive so that it is channeled only for good and not toward the forbidden–which distinguishes him from the common man, or even from the Torah scholar. Joseph is called Yosef HaTzadik because when he resisted the sexual advances of Potiphar's wife, he rectified the covenant of circumcision in this ultimate way. By resisting the advances of Potiphar's wife, Joseph passed the necessary test and fixed the vessel of yesod on the deepest possible level.

Likewise, Joseph epitomized the perfection of this sefirah when he, step by step, guided his brothers toward their complete repentance. This was only possible once he had rectified those aspects of himself associated with yesod and achieved the inner state of humility and patience that results from it. In the course of the account of Joseph's meeting with his brothers, it is written that he "restrained himself" (vayitapak). This word has the same Hebrew root as ofek, meaning "horizon," the kissing point between heaven and earth, representing the tzadik's ability to unify spirituality and physicality through his undeviating self -control.

The most surprising element of Joseph's strategy was his treatment of Benjamin, who was not even present when the others decided to sell him into slavery. Nevertheless, Joseph had his guards hide a silver goblet in Benjamin's bag, and then put him through the trauma of being suspected as a thief, and even went so far as to threaten him with slavery. The idea was to reveal within Benjamin the hidden love that lay dormant in his subconscious.

This compares to the concealed love of God at the core of every Jew, by virtue of the merit of the patriarchs. The revelation of this hidden love is often catalyzed by a tzadik. It always comes as a great surprise to the person himself, who has never suspected that all this time he had within him this great potential.

In our case, by applying the proper tools to connect between heaven and earth, the educator can also reveal this great potential in his students. 

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