Today is four days of the Omer, נצח שבחסד, Netzach ShebeChesed, Enduring Prophetic Covenantal Love, The Will of Covenantal Love.
The beginning of my journey
Rabbi Finley gave an overview teaching of the sephirot on Shabbat, which was streamed live on Facebook and as a Zoom meeting for members of Ohr HaTorah synagogue. That sermon reminded me of Rabbi Finley’s deep integration of Robert Assagioli’s understanding of the Will into his spiritual psychological philosophy. To be perfectly honest, I read The Act of Will so long ago that my recollection of that first-hand experience is lost and I can only offer the insight gleaned from hearing Rabbi Finley’s sermons for a dozen or so years.
Every day, we choose who to be.
This is what I know for sure: every day, we make choices. We make those choices consciously and unconsciously. Most of our days are routine and we move through the day by rote memory, thus many of our decisions become unconscious. This is part of what makes being at home 24/7 so difficult: our routines have been shattered and we are forced to choose how to engage our days with people we probably are not used to being around so much. Or alone. I can hardly imagine what you’re going through if you live alone, so I won’t even try.
When we pay attention to the choices we make throughout the day, when we bring our conscious mind to our thoughts, feelings, actions, and verbalized speech, we are more likely to use our will to move towards a better version of ourselves. For example, I’ve used foul language much more in the last month than I have in the last four years. My body is on overdrive, overly stimulated and constantly sleep deprived. And for 3/4 of the last month, I wasn’t connected to the spiritual discipline that grounds me.
Choosing love when everything feels irritating
So what Neztach ShebeChesed means for me this year is remembering my vision of the covenant I choose for my family: speaking with love and gratitude for each living thing I have the opportunity to grow with. That includes the dog who rarely leaves my side and the children who are far too young to do schoolwork without supervision (yes, it only took me a month to fully understand that one).
It means not being resentful that my husband leaves the house every weekday. And when I say leave, I mean he walks into the backyard and enters his wood shop so that he can do his job. He leaves to earn the paycheck that keeps our family from having the financial stress so many of our neighbors are enduring. So yes, my days are spent with children in a way that I have never experienced in my life. I am neither a Mandarin teacher nor a particularly good first grade English teacher (anyone else hate the thousand and one new ways to learn to read English that seem to be required these days before a kid even has the opportunity to crack open a dictionary?) But I will do my best. And we will survive.
And step by step, I will remember to use my will to limit my speech to the tone and words I wish to hear from those around me. I will remember to hold space and I will remember how devastating it is to only have your brother as a playmate. But I still won’t buy plastic junk just because my kids are convinced Ryan’s World is the best world that ever existed.
A prayer for continuous connection with HaShem
May I remember my Enduring Will to nurture the covenantal love of my family and may I connect my will to the Ground of Goodness, knowing that Was / Is / Will Be, Eyeh Asher Eyeh, exists continuously in this moment with me.