Day 4, April 19: The Netzach in Hesed

Today we contemplate the endurance of love over time...

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Before diving into the kavvanah for the fourth day of the Omer on Saturday, April 19, I thought it would be interesting to point out that a number of the names of the Sefirot appear in a very familiar passage in the service for the reading of the Torah on Shabbat and holidays. As we march the Torah scroll around the synagogue during the hakafah on Shabbat morning, we sing the Hebrew words, Lecha Adonai... “Yours, God, is the greatness [Gedulah], the power [Gevurah], the splendor [Tiferet], the eternity [Netzach] and the beauty [Hod].” (The quotation is from the biblical book of II Chronicles, Chapter 29 verse 11.)

That said, today we look at the Netzach within Hesed. Netzach means “eternity,” “endurance,” but it also has the connotation of “triumph” or “victory.” (The modern Hebrew word for victory, nitzachon, comes from Netzach.)

So, one way to look at the spiritual focus of this day, if we take Netzach to mean “triumph” or even, as Rabbi Arthur Green translates it, “aggrandizement,” is that the fourth day of the Omer provides us with a chance to look at what is self inflated or self aggrandizing in our love. When is our supposed concern toward others really a desire to elevate ourselves? How is our love giving and how is it selfish?

Another way to look at this combination of Sefirot, however, is to take Netzach in the sense of “eternity” or “endurance.” And it is this way of looking at it that I want to suggest we contemplate during the fourth day of the Omer.

During our second-day reflection upon the Gevurah within Hesed, we focused our attention on the boundedness and responsibility of love. To whom do we direct our love? What kind of action do we take? How much love can we give before burning ourselves out?

The Netzach or “endurance” within Hesed can turn our attention toward the steadiness and endurance of our love over time. How does one sustain love – love of those close to us, love of God, love of life – over “the long haul?”

One of the best sermons I ever heard a Rabbi give touched upon this topic. The preacher - Rabbi Marc Sack – asked the congregation to think of those times when we tell a friend, “It's going to be alright.” Then he asked, “Are we lying we tell someone that it's going to be alright? How do we know how it's going to turn out?” After letting the question hang in the air for a few long moments, he said, “When we tell someone that everything's going to be all right, we are not lying, because what we really mean is,' I'm not going anywhere. Even if everything isn't all right, I will stick with you.’” This is, perhaps, the Netzach within Hesed.

One action for the fourth day of the counting of the Omer might be to connect with someone with whom you have had a long-standing friendship and celebrate and reminisce about the Netzach, the endurance, of that relationship.

What has enabled the most enduring relationships in your life to persist over time? Consider, as well, the ups and downs of your relationship with God/Judaism. Have you found
Netzach with in that relationship, as well?

Shabbat Shalom, and many, many thanks to all of you who are participating so far!

Steve
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