Life and Death
Tonight begins the 28th Day of the Omer (May 10-11, 2006), which is four complete weeks of the omer. May that part of me that is broken in Malkhut in Netzach begin to heal on this day.
Malkhut is the sefira that connects the "upper world" with the "lower world." The role of Malkhut in the sefirot shares some attributes with the the winged sphinxes (Fox translation of keruvim, cherubs) and the flaming, ever-turning sword that guard the way back to the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24). The comparison is limited, though. Malkhut is more of a mediator and translator between the two worlds while the keruvim and the sword are about keeping the two places separate.
But what the examples share is marking a transition between worlds where death exists and where it doesn't. This combination of Malkhut in Netzach would seem to be a joining of opposites, with Malkhut representing the "lower" world of life and death and Netzach, Forever, representing the "upper" worlds where death has no meaning.
Our task in this world is to see the connection of life and death clearly. In the photo, I imagine a funeral scene where the young trees are attending to the fallen dead older tree lying before them. The biology of it is that the dead tree is tending to the living ones. It has made some room in the crowded forest canopy from some light to reach the younger trees. And soon the decomposing tree will nourish its comrades with minerals as well.
My kids are 11 and 8—which is a time ripe with seeing them out-do me in a host of physical as well as even some intellectual arenas (my daughter is better than me at Sudoku and Boggle).
In Bava Metzia 59b, after a vigorous legal debate in which human beings perform miracles and reject heavenly evidence as having no standing, God says, "Nitzchuni banai, Nitzchuni banai." The litteral meaning there is "My children have defeated me." Most commentators have God proclaiming this with joy.
Nitzchuni, they have defeated me, comes from the same root as today's sefira, Netzach. So one might translate God's line as "They have endured beyond me." This might teach something about God's distance. But I think it also teaches us about the meaning of "forever." It is not about eternal life. It is not about the absence of death.
In witnessing my children "defeating," me, I begin to prepare for my own death in a way that is joyful, full of nachus, pride.
The cycle of life is a cycle of life and death. It can't be any other way.