Results tagged “calmness” from BNTI Blog



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Equanimity


By Rebbetzin Revi Belk

B'nai Noach Torah Institute, LLC

 

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Rise above events that are inconsequential - both bad and good for they are not worth disturbing your equanimity.

Cheshbon Ha Nefesh

 

For in equanimity, there is balance and level-headedness, the desire for equality.  This middah helps us to stay focused in the easiest and hardest of times. With this trait, we can rise above events that are inconsequential-- both bad and good. To be even-keeled and have the ability to maintain composure is a powerful trait.

Inconsequemtial (insignificant, negligible, minor, trivial)

(that's an inconsequential problem compared to the other issues)

 

Rabbi Isaac Luria had this to say about equanimity.

 

A rabbi once came to one of the contemplative Kabbalists and asked to be accepted as an initiate.  The Masters said to him,  My son, may G-d Bless you, for your intentions are good. Tell me, though, whether or not you have attained equanimity.  The rabbi said to him,  Master, please explain your words.  The Master replied,  If there were two people, and one of them honored you and the other insulted you, are they equal in your eyes?  The rabbi answered, No, my Master. For I feel pleasure and satisfaction from the one who honors me, and pain from the insults of the other.  But I do not take revenge or bear a grudge.   The Master blessed the rabbi and sent him away.  Go in peace, my son. When you have attained equanimity, your soul does not feel the honor deriving from one who honors you nor the embarrassment a rising from insults.  Your consciousness is not yet ready to be attached to the supernal. Everyday Holiness Alan Morinis page 103

 

Calmness of soul is kind of similar to independence.  When we reach this place we are not tossed about by life's circumstances.  This first part of our path is not obtained by simply desiring it - we have to take action.  In Mussar literature we find the phrase distance yourself  referred to a lot - but what does that mean - how do we do this?  Let's examine this phrase.  To distance oneself from the circumstances that enter our lives seems to be exactly the tool we need to acquire calmness of soul.

 

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We are capable of patiently enduring any  difficulty in life when we believe that everything comes from HaShem and that everything is for the best.  Patient endurance, the result of emuna (faith), paves the road to genuine tranquility.  Genuine tranquility means a worry free, peaceful, and happy existence.  With emuna, we avoid untold emotional wear and tear.  The Garden of Emuna Rabbi Shalom Aruch Page 75

 

Does that mean that we don't pray for good things?  Do we just accept the status quo?  No it doesn't mean that at all.  We have free will.  We have the ability to make choices, however, there are some events in life that we can't control.  This is where we try to enter the Garden of Emuna, where we can and do accept this event as a test, a way for us to see if we are acquiring calmness of soul.  There are times when we need to step away from powerful outer forces but we cannot step away from our inner powerful forces.

 

Jochabed was an amazing woman.   She was born by the gates of Mitzaim (Egypt).

Jochebed was so called because her face was like the ziv hakavod splendor of glory; Midrash Haggadah. Genesis  23:1. She was born during the journey of the children of Israel to Egypt  Genesis  Rabbah. 94:9. She was 130 when she gave birth to Moses. She is the daughter  of Levi Shemot (Exodus)  2.1  her youth returned to her, her skin becoming smooth and the wrinkles of age disappearing when she became pregnant with Moses Genesis Rabbah  94.9.

Jochebed is identified with Shiphrah Shemot (Exodus) 1.15, because the Israelites were fruitful - she-peru - in her days Sotah 11b  The houses given to the two Hebrew midwives Shemot(Exodus) 1.21 means that she was destined to become the ancestress of the priestly family Exodus  Rabbah 1:17. She survived all her children and was permitted to enter Eretẓ Israel with Joshua when she was 250.  Ishei ha-Tanakh

But the midwives feared G-d, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive.  Shemot (Exodus) 1.17

 

What a brave woman.  To stand before Pharoah, agree to his command and not do what she was commanded because she feared HaShem.  This woman had equanimity.  Under extreme circumstances she kept her mind and soul calm and figured the best way to handle the situation.

 

Have we taken the first step(s) this week on our journey?

Have we taken the time to begin to record our journey?

 

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Blessings and Peace


Rebbetzin Revi





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Serenity and Tranquility

Equanimity ©


By Rebbetzin Revi Belk

B'nai Noach Torah Institute, LLC

 

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 The L-rd is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He causes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul . Tehillim (Psalms) 23.1-3

 

Menuchat ha'nefesh, calmness of the soul

 

Has anyone experienced this place?  What does it mean to say that the L-rd is my Shepherd?  If you look at the Hebrew, the phrase I shall not want appears at the end of the Tehillim.  How would that change our understanding about this Tehillim?

 

We are in unchartered territory for some, familiar territory for some, and for some of us not really a place where we want to go.

 

Before we begin meandering into this peaceful and beguiling garden one of the Mussar teachings from Rabbi Israel Salanter, the father of the Mussar movement states:

 

As long as one lives a life of calmness and tranquility in the service of G-d, it is clear that he is remote from true service.

 

The Jewish approach to life considers the man who has stopped going -- he who has a feeling of completion, of peace, of a great light from above that has brought him to rest -- to be someone who has lost his way. Only he whom the light continues to beckon, for whom the light is as distant as ever, only he can be considered to have received some sort of response. The Thirteen Petalled Rose  Adin Steinsaltz page 132

 

He whose search has reached a certain level feels that he is in the palace of the King. He goes from room to room, from hall to hall, seeking Him out. However, the king's palace is an endless series of worlds, and as a man proceeds in his search from room to room, he holds only the end of the string. It is, nevertheless, a continuous going, a going after G-d, a going to G-d, day after day, year after year.  The Thirteen Petalled Rose  Adin Steinsaltz page 133

 

What we most often feel we want and need is serenity and calmness in our lives.  After all the Tehillim above says that we should be lying down in green pastures giving the impressions of calmness and serenity.  Why is it then that when we begin to study a bit of Mussar it states just the opposite? 

 

There is a book called Life is a Test

 

I have Created the Yetzer Hara, G-d Proclaimed, but fear not, I Created the Torah as an antidote to it.. (Talmud).  You need only anchor yourself  to Torah and you will not only pass every test, but you will grow and thrive.  But more significantly, why does G-d have to test us?..... Undoubtedly, our Creator Knows us.  He Knows every fiber of our being,  He Knows our strengths as well as our weaknesses, but the problem is that we do not know our own selves, our own potential.  We have no understanding of the energy that G-d Planted within our souls - therefore, G-d has to test us to bring forth those treasures that are buried deep within ourselves and make us unique. Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis Shaar Press page 21 

 

Is it that we are unaware of being tested or are we simply too busy to notice.  When we discussed Hannah and how she prayed for someone who was making fun of her we learn that she had come to this place of equanimity.  She had calm in the midst of the storm.

 

Learning a Mussar  text is a great way to help turn the mind and heart towards action to improve who we are.  At the end of each day or at the same time each day, if by the end of the day we are too tired,  we are to account for how our day unfolded.  We should approach this path with commitment.  We all need improvement in our lives so with G-d's Help our journey begins.  Seems like a great challenge to find even a few moments a day to get alone with the Alone, with HaShem G-d.  We come to Him trying to quiet our hearts and minds and begin to learn to listen and reflect on the day that has just passed.  Are we now at this moment more sensitive to the challenges He Brought into our lives that day?  Did we choose to act or did we react?

 

No two of us have the same strengths and weaknesses. Mussar sets each of us on our individual path in an effort to find a balance, but we do not travel this path alone.  We need each other's help to hold up a mirror so that we can more clearly see our inner selves.  We will have to find someone close to us to listen and help us see clearly.  If there is no one close emailing or calling us here will work as well.

 

We mentioned last week a book called Cheshbon Ha Nefesh - which means - Accounting of the Soul. 

 

Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. This is what equanimity means.  The idea behind this middah is that the waves of life will batter the shores of our lives - Remember last week the story of Noah?   This is inevitable, and it's a necessary part of our human experience.  The question is, how do we react when the waves hit?  Do we let ourselves get tossed about, or do we stand in the center of the storm with an inner calmness. 

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All human qualities exist on a spectrum. Some of us behave by facing problems, others by running away. One person sweats the small stuff; another is easygoing. The gamut runs from kindness to selfishness, greediness to generosity, alacrity to laziness, and so on. When too extreme, a character trait, or middah, tends to cause pain and creates problems. Rabbi Yisrael Salanter understood the many ways humans can stray from the Spirit of Torah, even while abiding by the letter of the law. Mussar exercises are designed to restore our character traits to the proper balance, enabling us to live more whole, peaceful lives.

 

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Do we want or need to stir up our lives?  Doubtful.  Life comes with many challenges - we don't need to seek them.  We hope as we meander down this garden path to find how to be calm in the midst of the storm and to begin to understand and profit from these storms of life.

 

Dr. Akiva Gamliel is struggling with his weight right now - most of us women understand that all too well.  He is a big man and likes to eat.  He tries and tries but sees little success.  How can one change the results they are seeing in their lives when similar issues arise?  How do we acquire equanimity in these of situations?  Would equanimity help?  If it helps - how?  His goals were set too high.  He wanted the weight to come off - like now - that never happens.  He has, because of our discussion on Shabbat on when we discuss the Reflections Lessons, has changed his approach to be more obtainable.  Kind of downsized his expectations.  Please keep him in your prayers.

 

When my Mother, may she rest in peace, started down that final path I had many disagreements with my siblings about her care.  I wanted her to stay with me - they wanted to put her into a care facility.  I lost that battle.  I believe my Mother would have lived longer if they had gone my way.  We will never know for sure.  Since then my siblings and I have not spoken much.  My challenge with equanimity is coming to a peaceful place and trying to reach out so that these relationships can be healed.  I have done some of that so far with no positive results.

 

We all have some sort of issue in our lives.  The question is do we even want to look at these?  We at BNTI believe that if you are studying with us then the answer is yes.  We will need to take small steps, we will need encouragement, and we will need each other.

 

The path is before us what is our first step?

Is equanimity and calmness the same or worlds apart?

 

Let's take the time this week to see if we can find those few moments a day to get quiet, to listen and reflect on the day.  Write down how we have grown or where we might have done better.  Were there moments when we became aware that we have a choice to act or did we simply react to events that day.  This is the first small step to equanimity.  This is the first middot we will try to work on.

 

If there are any experiences you want to share with everyone as we begin this journey please email them.

 

 

 

Blessings and Peace

 

Rebbetzin Revi

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