Mussar Gevurah – Strength, Restraint 7


Mussar Gevurah



In the Talmud HaShem States, I created the Evil Inclination, but I also Created the Torah, as its antidote.  Talmud Kuddushin 30b


G-d Created evil so that we could conquer it.  This is where Gevurah comes into play. 


When you go forth to war against your enemies, and The L-rd (HaShem) your G-d (Elokim) has  Delivered them into your hands, and you have taken them captive. Devarim (Deuteronomy)  21.10


HaShem is Chesed, Elokim in Gevurah.

Both needed to balance each other.



Our souls contain seven middot (divine emotive attributes).

Gevurah is the fifth in the serfirotic tree and the second emotive attribute


The word Sefirah from the Hebrew word lesaper (רלספ) means to express or communicate.  It implies that the function of a Sefirah is to express a certain attitude. 

וַאֲנִי קִרְבַת אֱלֹהִים לִי טוֹב שַׁתִּי בַּאדֹנָי יֱהֹוִה מַחְסִי לְסַפֵּר כָּל מַלְאֲכוֹתֶיךָ: ס  

But for me it is good to be near G-d; I have made the L-rd G-d my refuge, that I may declare(tell, Lesaper) all Your Works.  Tehillim (Psalms) 73.28


It is also related to the word Sapphire, implying that the function of a Sefirah is to give light.

וַיִּרְאוּ אֵת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְתַחַת רַגְלָיו כְּמַעֲשֵׂה לִבְנַת הַסַּפִּיר וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם לָטֹהַר : ס   


And they perceived ( everything from Aleph to Tav ) of the G-d of Israel; and there was under His feet a kind of paved work of a sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clarity: Shemot (Exodus) 24.10


And they perceived ( everything from Aleph to Tav ) of the G-d of Israel; and there was under His feet a kind of paved work of a sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clarity: Shemot (Exodus) 24.10


When G-d’s Gevurah is more active that His Chesed we tend to feel that He is far, far away.  He only does this so that we would seek Him with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength.


But if from there you shall seek the L-rd your G-d, you  shall find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.  Devarim (Deuteronomy) 4.29


During the High Holy Days we pray that G-d’s Gevurah will be tempered with Chesed.  Those days are days of accounting of our soul, days where we truly seek to acquire a Blessed year from HaShem.  Our awareness of His Gevurah is heightened during those days.  We should strive to carry those energies throughout the year, not just on Yom Kippur where it all culminates.


Chesed is from the masculine side and Gevurah is from the feminine.  Chesed is considered male because it expands, it bursts forth.  Gevurah is feminine because it receives, it constricts.  Abraham is associated with Chesed.  He left his homeland and sought out relationships with others.  He was always trying to expand by providing travelers with food and lodging.  Issac is associated with Gevurah.  He is the receptive party in the akeda.  He was passive most of his life as is seen in the incidents of Rebeccah and Jacob.


Gevurah is the sefirah of emotion extended inward or away.  It limits expansion.  When we feel like moving away from something we are activating Gevurah.  It takes a lot of strength to move away or limit ourselves in any way.  Moving away or inward always has an element in it of limitation or contraction. 


The dictionary defines Emotive as — Emotive is used to mean arousing intense feeling, while emotional tends to mean characterized by intense feeling. — Thus an emotive issue is one which is likely to arouse people’s passions, while an emotional response is one which is itself full of passion.


Feeling and Emotion are two different instincts that are often equated as the same. Feeling is an instinct that is physical.  The realm of feeling belongs to the animal kingdom.  It is a response to internal and external physical stimuli.


Emotion has faculties that no animal possesses.  Our soul is emotional by nature. 


Emotion is a combination of Gevurah and Chesed.  Judgment (Gevurah) is passive,  Mercy (Chesed) is active.  Gevurah is the outer emotional aspect of a person.  It is that part that assesses, values, checks and constrains the emotional life of a person.  It reacts rather than initiates.  Gevurah controls the impulses.  Without Gevurah one could run amuck and become a tyrant.  However if one removes Gevurah  Chesed will drown one in fervor.  Adam and the Kabbalistic Tree Z’ev ben Shimon HaLevi Page 157-159


Gevurah also helps us restrain the Yetzer Rah (the Evil Inclination).  Gevurah manifests the power to implement Chesed, it helps us refine our middot, our character.

לִי עֵצָה וְתוּשִׁיָּה אֲנִי בִינָה לִי גְבוּרָה

Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding; I have strength (Gevurah)Mishlei (Proverbs) 8.14


Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, and the might (הגְּבוּרָ֚), and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty…Divrei Hayamim 1 (1 Chronicles) 29.11


מִי יְמַלֵּל גְּבוּרוֹת יְהֹוָה יַשְׁמִיעַ כָּל תְּהִלָּתוֹ

Who can utter the mighty (Gevurot) Acts of the L-rd? Who can declare all His praise?  Tehilim (Psalms) 106.2


Originally it arose in G-d’s thought to Create the world with the attribute of stern judgment (Gevurah) (i.e., with total concealment of G-dliness); He Saw, however, that the world could not endure, so He Combined Gevurah with the attribute of mercy (Chesed).  Bereishit (Genesis)1.1  (Rashi’s Commentary) The Sapirstein Edition The Torah with Rashi’s commentary page 4


Israel had so many times where they did not have the Gevurah, the Strength and Restraint needed to follow the path G-d Set for them.  They would have avoided so much pain if they had.


What about our lives?  When we reflect on our own behavior do we find incidents where we did not use our Gerurah, our Restraint?  When we observe others, do we see where we can learn from them?  How are some individuals able to restrain from putting others down, from judging others, from lashon horah ( speaking ill of another)?


As with all things, acquiring Gevurah takes time, it takes purpose and dedication.  The rewards that are reaped will be considerable.  With restraint we won’t injure those we care about with words and deeds that are not thought out, ones that will produce the best results.


Each and every moment we have in this life is a GIFT from G-d.  What we choose to do with those moments matters.  These moments affect our lives now and in the world to come.


These moments have as it were eternal ramifications. 


I will hold my peace at him/her; listen to his/her words, the report of his/her power (Gevurot), and his/her graceful speech. Iyov (Job) 41.4


Blessings and Peace

Rebbetzin Revi Belk

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