Day 28, May 13: The Malkhut in Netzach
Connecting Malkhut with the dignity of royalty, I’m reminded of something I once heard an African American Baptist preacher here in Austin say when an interviewer asked him to reflect upon his role as a minister. He said, “My job is to hold a crown up over people’s heads and then help them to stand up straight enough to wear it.”
Dignity isn’t snobbery, egotism or an inflated sense of self-importance. It is, rather, remembering that you are a child of God made b’tzelem Elohim, in the Divine Image. Dignity is not selling yourself short. It is holding yourself to a standard of menschlichkeit (Yiddish for human decency) in such a way that when you look in the mirror, you like who you see.
But this is the Malkhut in Netzach - perseverance or “eternity.” Perhaps this reminds us that standing upright enough to wear the crown of our humanity is a lifetime project.
Let me close with a passage from Primo Levi’s magnificent memoir, Survival In Auschwitz. Steinlauf, an Austrian Jew and fellow Auschwitz inmate, scolds Primo Levi for questioning why Steinlauf undertakes the futile task of washing himself in the filthy conditions of the camp.
Steinlauf says: ...that precisely because the Camp [is] a great machine to reduce us to beasts, we must not become beasts; that even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that to survive we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton... of civilization. We are slaves, deprived of every right... condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength, for it is the last -- the power to refuse our consent. So we must certainly wash, walk upright [and]... polish our shoes, not in homage to Prussian discipline, but for for dignity and propriety, so as not to begin to die.
What role does Dignity play in your unfolding as a person?
Rabbi Steve Folberg