Netzach – March of the Penguin

avi orlow headshot

Guest post by Rabbi Avi Orlow,
Director of Education at Foundation for Jewish Camp

 

March of the Penguins is a documentary depicting the annual journey of Antarctica‘s emperor penguins.  In autumn, all the penguins of breeding age leave their normal habitat of the ocean to walk inland across the frozen tundra to their ancestral breeding grounds.  There, the penguins participate in their yearly courtship ritual that, if successful, results in a chick.  for their baby to survive the brutally cold environment, both parents must make multiple arduous journeys between the ocean and the breeding grounds over the ensuing months.

 

 

This harsh prelude introduces the immense joy of the next generation of penguins. Watching these families of penguins surviving the winter in these extreme conditions is mesmerizing. It is more invigorating then watching your favorite sports team win a come from behind victory in the last second of the game. The endurance and fortitude of the emperor penguin is a wonderful depiction of the sefirah of Netzach.

With the resurgence of global anti-Semitism, our low birthrates, and growing assimilation rate, on communal level it is hard not relating to the difficult polar conditions of the emperor penguins.  In a 1975 interview, Professor Salo W. Baron, thought to be the greatest Jewish historian of the 20th century, said “Suffering is part of the destiny [of the Jews], but so is repeated joy as well as ultimate redemption.” This is Netzach Yisrael– the joy, victory, and eternity of Jewish life.

It seems that the power of Netzach, like the annual journey of emperor penguins, is that we need to know that falling is not the same as failing, we are never doing it alone, community is critical to success, and the greatest joy is when a family shares its love with the next generation.

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