Malchut. Royalty. Also known as Shechinah. God’s close-dwelling presence. In theological jargon: the immanent God.
Netzach. Eternity. One of the qualities of the philosopher’s God. Eternal. Infinite. Omnipresent. Omnipotent. In theological jargon: the transcendent God.
Malchut she’b’netzach. The immanent in the transcendent.
Perfectly expressed in the hymn Adon Olam. The first three stanzas describe the transcendent God. The next two say: this is the same God who comforts me.
(Read more about Adon Olam in the last chapter of The Infinity Inside.)
Ah, Adon Olam. It’s a philosopher’s prayer. The poet knows God is infinite and eternal. So, when times are hard, the poet thinks about that transcendent God. And finds comfort in the thoughts. They bring the transcendent God close.
Some days, I love Adon Olam. But today, I don’t. Today, Adon Olam seems backwards to me. Today, I start with immanence, and feel my way towards transcendence. In beautiful ways, but also in painful ways.
When I see the spring cherry blossoms, for example, it’s beautiful. The pink flowers open my heart, launch my soul, and set it soaring. I don’t even have to think about the Eternal One. I just feel It.
But when I see cruelty, for example it’s painful. The victims hurt, the world hurts, my heart hurts. Then, I feel there must be a higher order. One that will break through soon. It’s not a conscious thought; it’s an immediate yearning.
And when I place the two experiences side by side, my heart breaks. Because I feel that God is failing us. How can God be so present in the blossoms, but so absent from the hearts of cruel people?
And, asking this, how can I, in good conscience and with a straight face, stand up and teach religion day after day?
Today is Day 28 of the Omer, i.e., four weeks.
New to counting the Omer? Here’s a primer.