Guest post by Dr. Zvi Bellin
When I was a child my family spent a long summer weekend strolling the boardwalk of Wildwood, NJ. I have a particular memory of going into a beach front store that sold iron-on T-shirts. Every inch of the store’s walls were covered with different pictures that a consumer can choose to have ironed on to just about any colored shirt. My older siblings wanted one, so of course, I did too.
When it was my turn to tell the clerk what I wanted, I looked up and all around at the different images and colors. I realized that I had no idea what to pick. When I said I was not sure, my siblings jumped in pointing all around, “Get that one!” “No, that one!” “How about that one!” I felt completely paralyzed by the all of the options, and perhaps was afraid to point out what I was truly drawn to – an image that a typical boy should not want. The pressure led to fear, frustration, and inevitably tears. I don’t remember if I got a T-shirt in the end, though I did leave with a sense of how frightening making a choice can be, especially if my authentic choice was not the one that I was “supposed” to make.
This story came to mind when I reflected on Yesod. Yesod is the sphere of foundation, the second to last step before the manifest world is materialized. Yesod is the channel that gathers and funnels all of the creative energy generated by the previous spheres into Malchut, the existing world. Yesod is generally associated with the genitals, symbols of the potential to create new life. In our ancestry, Yesod is connected with the archetype of Yosef, the boy prince who single handedly saved his family and an entire population from famine; who also transfers immense powers of land ownership from people to king. Yesod is also connected with the Tzaddikim (Righteous Ones), the hidden members of our tribe that silently encompass the suffering of the world despite their goodness. They hold our pain and our joy and everything in between, channeling that energy into service and justice.
As I stood at the store counter of the T-shirt store, I was unable to hold all of the choices presented to me. I was not able to break through the fear and pressure to make an authentic choice. I imagine that I was in a Yesod-struggle moment. There were too many possibilities present, too many overlapping voices and potentials. I was not able to channel the chaos into an authentic moment of creating. Instead, my vessel cracked. It was a time for self-compassion, to take a step back and work on inner-fortification.
To move into and through Yesod is not for the faint of heart. We need complete awareness of our flaws and strengths. Like Yosef in Egypt, the pieces of our Self that were pushed down and rejected need room to surface. We are bombarded with all of the ways that our lives can look, and all the ways that we can be in the world. In Yesod we need to make hard choices, saying goodbye to untold potentials in order to make room for expressed potentials. Knowing that what we choose to express will be seen and judged by those around us.
During this week of Yesod, you might connect with a challenging decision that you have been putting off. Is this a time for compassion so you can fortify yourself and make the decision a little further down the road? Is this a time to gather your inner strength and external support system and boldly choose in spite of the uncertainty that the outcome might bring? Has your relationship with the decision changed altogether – perhaps the issue is irrelevant now and your holding on has been an unneeded drain on your life? Or perhaps it is a time for celebration, seeing that the decision is now perfectly clear, and fear is replaced with joy and ease?
The reward of Yesod is feeling more whole in your life decisions, comfort with your self-expression, and deeper connection with your community and planet.
Dr. Zvi Bellin is an Assistant Professor of Holistic Counseling Psychology at John F. Kennedy University, and the Jewish Education Specialist for Moishe House. He directs intimate retreats and workshops for the Jewish community that are both spiritually uplifting and intellectually stimulating. He is an international Jewish educator, a licensed professional counselor, and a teacher of Jewish mindfulness practice. Find out more at www.meaningthroughbeing.com