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Echoes of the Future
Video 17 of 17
Why is it that this psalm is the opening to verses of praise? It might have to do with that this is essentially what it is that praise of G-d means. What does it mean to praise G-d?
So I want to answer here with a little bit of a personal reflection, and I want to sort of challenge you to think personally about this also. I guess we don't often think about this. But let me ask you, how many of us walk around with a sense that we're kind of living in G-d's presence, that G-d is sort of there with us? I don't think many of us actually feel that way. We - G-d you can't touch Him, you can't feel with Him and sort of in the back of your mind you think He has better things to do anyway. Here you are you're one guy, you're one girl among four billion people, on a planet that's the third rock from the sun, a medium-sized star, and a pretty ordinary galaxy with one hundred billion other stars and who knows how many other planets supporting life? That galaxy is just one of hundred billion galaxies itself and who knows how many universes there are? G-d is the Master of this all and He's probably got better things to do than worry about little, old me.
I think that suspicion kind of gnaws at us in the sense that, yeah, it's one thing to sort of praise G-d, Master of the Universe, all of that, but to feel G-d's presence in your daily life, yeah, it's something that you say poetry about, but do we really mean it?
I want to ask, what does it matter? Let's say it were true. Let's say that you actually felt that G-d was sort of walking with you, you had company through life. G-d was literally walking with you through life, why would that be a big deal? Why would it matter so much to you? I think normally when we think about G-d relating to people we think often in terms of the things like communication, prophecy. We don't have much prophecy nowadays, if you say, oh I had prophetic vision last night, they'll lock you up in the loony bin. So we haven't had prophecy for thousands and thousands of years. But does that mean that G-d can't really be with us? Or is it possible that G-d can also just sort of be with you? Not necessarily talk with you, but just sort of be there with you. Why would it matter if you really felt that to be true?
I think it matters in a huge way. It's a huge deal. Think about the times in your life when you sort of just want company. The hard times in your life or the great and triumphant times in your life. Some days you just want someone to be with you and what if that someone was the Master of the Universe? What if that someone is your Father in Heaven? What if He was really there? What if at every moment in life you had a tangible sense that G-d was with you, how would that change you?
I think among other things it gives you tremendous strength. Think even about hard times in life, times when there's nothing you can do about anything, when G-d forbid you lose a close relative, you lose a loved one, and you feel terrible and someone comes to visit with you. It's not really about communication, it's not what they tell you, sometimes you don't want them to tell you anything. In a Jewish house of mourning by the way, the person who is visiting is supposed to remain silent, just showing up, just being with you. That alone, again, gives you strength. What if it's the Master of the Universe that's with you? That gives you tremendous strength. Maybe that's what Pesukei D'zimrah is about, praising the G-d, the Master of the Universe who has better things to think about but who is right there with us, and understanding how that would change our lives. I believe that's what Psalm 30 is really about.
Psalm 30 is about Judah's praise of G-d, about this sense that I called out to You and You were there for me. I screamed out to You; Vatirpa'eini - and You responded. You didn't respond by anything you said, You responded by being there. Judah is sensing G-d's presence in his life, somehow he feels in retrospect made all the difference. It gave him the strength to somehow be able to get the words out of his mouth; Mah betza - what do we gain out of killing our brother? At that moment when everyone was ready to do away with Joseph, Judah stands up and says, no we can't do away from him. I mean, yes, it wasn't the most morally virtuous thing at the time, but it allowed Judah to have another chance at the bat. Judah again comes back and heroically is able to say, I'll be the Oreiva - I will take care of him, take me as a slave instead. You were there, You were there for me this whole time. Hashem birtzoncha he'emadata l'hareri oz - through Your presence, You were the one who gave me that strength to back up my words. The deep reservoirs of strength that I found in myself came from You being right there at my side.
Maybe that's what we're supposed to take away from this. Maybe that's why we echo Judah's words, David's words, every single morning when we append the song, we add this psalm to Pesukei D'zimrah, the introductory verses of prayer. It was that sense of strength that allowed David - perhaps one of the strongest, most valiant people within Jewish history - to be the King of Israel, to ascend to the mantle of leadership that was prophesized by Jacob. When Jacob told Judah that kings will come from you, you will lead the nation. Judah does lead the nation, David leads the nation and he does so successfully because of Judah's ability to have brought to a fairly successful close the fearsome story of the sale of Joseph. Because of that, the tribe of Judah builds the Temple, David's son builds the Temple, and the Temple is built at the intersection of the children of two mothers - the tribe of Benjamin from Rachel, the tribe of Judah from Leah.
Every morning we remember how the Temple got built in this psalm for the dedication of the Temple. We try to summon within ourselves that consciousness that we're walking in life through G-d, so that we too can call on those reservoirs of strength. To act with heroism in our daily lives.
1. What Does the Book of Psalms Have to Do With the Joseph Story?
2. A Curious Dedication
3. Profit Motive
4. Blood Money
5. Did Jacob Know?
6. A Father's Ambivalent Blessing
7. The Ruthlessness of War
8. The Lion and the Cub
10. To Redeem an Ancestor's Pledge
11. The Lion and the Lamb
12. Moving Up
13. Memories of Father
14. First Cries
15. Where Would I Be Without You
16. What Could Kill Me--But Then What?
17. A Palpable Presence
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