The COVID19 pandemic came at an interesting time on the Jewish calendar. Something very important can be learned from this.
The period of time between Passover, celebrating the Exodus from Egypt, and Shavuot, celebrating receiving Torah at Mount Sinai, is a time of counting. Bundles of wheat were brought to the Temple. The portion was called an Omer. To count the seven weeks of seven days from Passover to Shavuot was also counting the Omer – the offerings brought as part of the harvest holidays.
Over time these seven weeks gained mystical significance. Each week was identified with a different attribute of God such as strength, beauty and loving-kindness (Hesed – one of our favorites at Hasidah!). We are in the fourth week of this counting and come to a timely attribute: endurance (Netzakh).
The Hebrew word netzakh also implies eternity and fortitude. We are currently experiencing a pandemic and if you are reading this you are likely facing infertility or other family building challenges, which can feel like a marathon of endurance, lasting forever and testing your fortitude.
The Hebrew Prophet Samuel refers to God as Netzakh Yisrael (Eternal of Israel – Samuel 1 15:29) to show that God is one who stands firm, not wavering. Who among us can say that during these times we do not waver? These are challenging times. With a lot of alone time and the doors temporarily close, the doubts creep in. The sadness and the worry come too. Endurance is tested.
Yet, netzakh is an attribute that is essential to cultivate now. Endurance does not mean an adherence to an unrealistic stringency or standard and it also doesn’t mean to simply accept whatever comes. Endurance is to hold firm and steady to that which is important and essential.
Endurance requires patience. It requires that we can sometimes look past the small stuff and keep our eye on that which is truly important. It also means caring for ourselves to make sure we can continue to endure.
If becoming a parent is truly important, the shelter in place, the closing of clinics, the stopping of treatment might be one of the hardest tests of your patience. It is time to nurture your endurance. Connect to that which is eternal to you. Connect to the Eternal.
A short meditation. Find a quiet space and sit comfortably:
- Give yourself a few moments to remember the essential goodness of who you are that will endure no matter what.
- Take another moment to connect to your body. As long as you are alive, you are in it together with that body and you need to endure together.
- One more moment to hear your breath. Your source of life. Your source of connection to The Eternal. That connection endures. You can endure.
May we all continue to endure and reach Sinai together.