Diana Brewer is a cantorial student in the aleph ordination program. she leads prayer services regularly at the jewish community of amherst.

Omer Day 4 נצח שבחסד Netzach SheBeChesed

Endurance, Leadership, Dominance, Day-to-Day, Victory, The Long-Haul, within Love, Generosity, Light, Expressive Love (OK, maybe I'll throw some English words at Chesed from time to time...)

Anybody who's been married for more than a few minutes knows something about Netzach SheBeChesed. For me, marriage is an extremely apt expression of this idea. In a marriage, we must dwell within Chesed. By Chesed, I don't  mean only a feeling but also the idea of extending ourselves and showing our love through loving acts. Hopefully, we feel love and lovingly towards our spouses at least much of the time, but we don't dwell forever in the first flush of romance. (That's tomorrow's topic.) We must practice being generous, rubbing sore feet, listening to shop talk, giving (or not giving) a hug when it is needed (or not wanted). We also, hopefully, are on the receiving end of this type of generosity. The marriage exists within a bubble of Chesed. And we must do these things over and over again for (again, hopefully) a very long period of time. That's Netzach

Buddhist author and teacher Jack Kornfield's book title "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" is an oft-cited example of the idea Netzach. There is plenty of laundry to be done after the wedding, over the course of a marriage - literal and otherwise. Certainly, any relationship that matters can also fit this mold, but marriage seems to me a particularly stark example. 

The thing about Netzach is that it is a wonderful example of how many varied meanings one little Hebrew root can have. I heard a description of the Arabic language once that went like this: each word means what it means, the opposite of what it means, and something about a camel. The person who shared that with me pointed out it works for Hebrew, too. I've also heard it said that each Hebrew word means what it means, the opposite of what it means, and the opposite of its opposite (chew on that for a while). As different as each of these words seems, however, we can also see the connections. Eternity, Endurance, Dominance, Victory. Get it? (keep chewing)

Above, I wrote "Leadership" in my list. I've never actually heard anyone translate Netzach in that way, but I think of the many psalms that begin with a superscription that starts: "LaM'natzeach..." (To/for the director...) Here, this word, from the same root as Netzach, usually refers to some sort of musical director. This is where I get the idea of leadership. This, in turn, makes me think of the importance of taking on leadership at times within any of the various Chesed roles one might take on. Sometimes, we do have to be leaders in our marriages. Social action most certainly requires leadership. Back to parenting - do I need to unpack that? Didn't think so. 

A note on endurance. I'm aware that this can have a slightly negative ring, but I don't mean it in the holding-on-for-dear-life sense. I mean it as a necessary quality for anyone that wishes for lasting results in their lives. It can simply be a willingness to get up each morning and do what needs to be done. If we approach Endurance from the standpoint of being wrapped in or dwelling within Chesed, it can certainly take on a more luminous quality.

Today, I spoke to a good friend who was having a hard time and, on top of it, not pleased that she was having a hard time. She thought she should be done with this particular hard time. I could hear my own experiences of this type of frustration in her voice, and told her things I need to hear in times like that. I encouraged her to remember that her hard time might have a timeline of its own, and that surely, the Divine Love would continue to be patient with her, even if she couldn't be patient with herself. Now, there is a mighty example of Chesed laced through and through with Netzach. Ahavat Olam - an Eternal Love.  The Greatest Love of All. (Thank you Ms. Houston)

Today, may you be blessed with the staying power and leadership you need to fulfill the Chesed to which you are called. May you know that you are wrapped in the Eternal Love of the One.

Omer Day 5 הוד שבחסד Hod SheBeYesod

Omer Day 3 תפארת שבחסד Tiferet SheBeChesed