Gevurah: Discipline with a Twist

7 years ago Risa Mond 0

The second night of passover starts an expedition. No, I’m not talking about the journey of the second seder (though yes, it is a journey!), but the journey to discovery. The 14th of Nissan is when the Jewish people start counting the Omer.

When the Jews were enslaved in Egypt, the environment rubbed off on them—similarly to the way that news, media, and environmental aspects rub off on us. The environment was so bad, that the Jews slid down to the 49th level of impurity and sin. Had they reached the 50th level, there would have been no way back up. But how can we say G-d couldn’t of taken us out? We say He can do anything—so why not this? Because that is only one part of it. G-d can take us out of Egypt, but only we can take “Egypt” out of us. So, during the Omer, we go through a process of spiritual refinement for 49 days.

Each day helps us transcend our own ‘spiritual exiles’ until we reach the highest level. Throughout the weeks, Torah is giving us an opportunity to delve into our thoughts, psyche, and soul.

Of course, the Torah doesn’t just send us off on a soul searching journey without any tools. For each day during the 49 that lead up to Shavout, we are given a chance to refine another aspect of ourselves. We are given the opportunity to refine and strengthen our relationship with the parts of ourselves we may not like or do not give enough attention to.

There is one Middah (attribute) from this list that gets all the flack: Gevurah.

Gevurah is one of the most misunderstood middot of all. Translated as discipline, Gevurah holds with it also strength and control. And it is often thought of as completely opposite from chesed, translated as kindness.

Did you ever stop to think that maybe Gevurah, discipline, is actually better for you than you think?

Sure, we all need Chesed. We need to be kind to ourselves and kind to others. But Gevurah is where the magic happens.

Don’t think of Gevurah as self-aggression, think of it as self motivation. Discipline should not translate into a punishment. I will not lie, it does take a lot of strength and is not easy. But you can either deal with the hardships of discipline, or the consequences of regret.

Growing up a competitive level athlete, I was taught early on how to show Gevurah to myself, to my teammates, and to the other players on the court. I learned to have the discipline to control my emotions—fear, anxiety, doubts and insecurities—and box them away during games and matches. Using the Middah of Gevurah also taught me how to push myself to work harder when necessary. It wasn’t about bashing myself, but rather giving myself the push to reach my true potential. Discipline became my bridge from goals to accomplishments.

When the Sefirot work in harmony, say for example, when self discipline is infused with self kindness—knowing when to work yourself, but also knowing when to give yourself a break—we reach the ultimate level of self perfection. These days leading up to Shavout are meant to instill a healthy balance and sense of self understanding. And when you have this balance, there’s nothing you can’t do. Pesach was just the beginning, it is really a 49 step process.

Fact: you have the tools necessary to begin this journey. Lucky: you’ve been given this opportunity of improvement. Now take your facts and your luck—and do something.