The process of the Omer counting thus far feels like a dance performance. We began in the forward facing flow of Chesed, unstructured and uninhibited; the first dancer jumping and twirling with abandon. That one was caught in the arms of Gevurah as the second week unfolded, contained and given form, held to the limits of the stage. And this past week we experienced the harmony of the two dancers as they found their balance and moved together gracefully in Tiferet.
As we enter the fourth week of the Omer, the two dancers separate again, and we find ourselves in the flow of Netzach.
Netzach as Perpetuity
Netzach literally means perpetuity or everlastingness. I remember a conversation with Reb Zalman, where I expressed my judgment about the practice of naming spaces and whole buildings after donors, wondering aloud if they would give as much if they weren’t rewarded in that way. Reb Zalman looked at me with such loving concern and asked: “why would you want to inhibit their Netzach energy?”
That chastened me. At one time or another, don’t we all imagine living on in perpetuity? Netzach motivates authors, artists, civic and spiritual leaders, and so many other roles.
This week we test the limits of our endurance as our passions call us forward. Do we have the strength to follow through? Can we overcome the obstacles in our way and accomplish what we set out to do? This is Netzach at its best, leading the way and leaving an imprint on the world.
When I am in my leadership role, I am calling on all the Netzach I can muster. The best expression of this sefirah will be able to inspire and motivate others to accomplish the tasks at hand. This is a relational energy, though it is also that which awakens the life-force within and fuels the constant doing, striving, accomplishing on my journey through life.
Netzach Running Amok
Like Chesed, its parent, sitting above it on the Tree of Life, Netzach can run amok. It, too, is uninhibited flow and can become a brutal force. Think of those all-nighters we’ve pulled to complete a task; how often did we acknowledge the risks to our health or even to the quality of the work we would produce? Likewise, when our goal is to win – another quality of Netzach – are we considering all the costs? Netzach will need to be balanced by Hod – a relationship that Ruach D’vorah will introduce next week.
The Present Moment is an Eternity
This year, as we arrive at this sefirah, I find myself wondering about the nature of eternity. The forever-ness of Netzach points us to eternity. What is that? Is it a quality we can apprehend? In our lives, limited by time, what does eternity suggest?
My Savta (grandmother) taught me that the present moment is an eternity. Each moment contains all that came before and all the potential of what is yet to be. Be Here Now, a popular book by Ram Dass in my generation, launched the mindfulness revolution. We were taught to peel away at the layers of the material world, to discover our true essence or soul; and that part of us, we were told, lives on in perpetuity, it is everlasting.
Anyone who calls my phone when I’m not available, hears me invite them to “have a beautiful now”. So many have left a message wondering if their now already passed them by, as they listened to my voice. I have heard many variations on ‘now’ and ‘then’, and each time I’m amused. Because the whole point of eternity is that it’s not a game of semantics, it’s an invitation to simple Presence.
In this week of Netzach I invite us all to practice being fully present to a moment. While on the road to accomplishing a task, completing a project, winning the game, let’s stop to smell the roses. Let’s bring all of our attention and focus all our senses on the beauty of the natural world. Make a commitment to notice something beautiful or surprising in your world, at least once a day, and stop – be fully present to the experience. Then remember that moment and find the quality of eternity that was present as you entered into the fullness of it.
This, too, is Netzach.
Rabbi Nadya Gross, MA
Rabbi Nadya is Co-Founder and Chief Programming Officer of Yerusha, a spiritual director, and congregational leader. She transmits the mystical teachings passed down from her grandmother in a two-year wisdom school: Secrets My Grandmother Told Me, serves on the faculty of Yerusha’s Sage-ing® Legacy Program, and the Anamcara Project of the Sacred Art of Living Center for Spiritual Formation. She is the co-author, with Rabbi Malka Drucker, of Embracing Wisdom: Soaring in the Second Half of Life.
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