Thoughts on the Week 6 October


This brief comment is in memory of my late mother (Brainah Leah bat Moshe Aharon) and for all those who read Tehillim for the sake of others. [Note: Quoted verses are taken from the Mechon Mamre website.]

Chapter 11:

Authorship of the 11th Chapter of Psalms is attributed to King David. Appropriate for the week in which Yom Kippur occurs, the message in Psalm 11 is of a Just G-d who hasn’t abandoned the world to chaos and chance but metes out judgment in careful measure.

 ה, בְּהֵיכַל קָדְשׁוֹ– ה, בַּשָּׁמַיִם כִּסְאוֹ:עֵינָיו יֶחֱזוּ– עַפְעַפָּיו יִבְחֲנוּ, בְּנֵי אָדָם.

The LORD is in the holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven; Eyes beholding, Eyelids trying, the children of men. (Psalms 11:4)

The Almighty allows the righteous to suffer atoning for their sins now, while granting them endless reward for their good deeds in the Hereafter.

ה, צַדִּיק יִבְחָן: וְרָשָׁע, וְאֹהֵב חָמָס–שָׂנְאָה נַפְשׁוֹ.

The LORD tries the righteous; but the wicked and those that love violence are hated. (Psalms 11:5)

In contrast, the good fortune of the wicked is in order to reward them in this world for any good they may have done, excluding them from having a share in the World to Come.

כִּי-צַדִּיק ה, צְדָקוֹת אָהֵב; יָשָׁר, יֶחֱזוּ פָנֵימוֹ.

The LORD is righteous and loves righteousness; the upright, shall behold G-d’s face. (Psalms 11:7)

Time – Someone is Looking after that for Me

As a child growing up in the United States, at the end of summer the same series of discomforting dreams always reoccurred, year-in and year-out. Even as an adult living in the UK, especially since becoming a rabbi, a similar set of recurrent dreams seems to replay on certain occasions.

The childhood dream usually began pleasantly, in a school somewhere, playing with friends on the sports field. Then gradually, when the bell rang and it was time to return to class, a growing sense of anxiety spread throughout. Entering the classroom, it gripped me fully – we were being seated for an exam I hadn’t studied for.

The dream pattern since becoming a rabbi involved rushing to the airport arriving late; realising somehow that there were way too many suitcases to check-in. The attendant insisted there wouldn’t be room for that much luggage, something had to be discarded – and while calculating what to jettison, they informed the flight would leave imminently.

Both dreams created anxiety and both contained a subtle message of not enough preparation or foresight – eventually their meaning became obvious – summers spent playing as a child instead of studying AND as an adult, not accomplishing enough in the short amount of time available.

The best-selling travel writer Bill Bryson has an anecdote about a Jewish fellow whose watch was stolen by a Nigerian during their travels together. Later when asked if he knew the time, the defrauded owner replied caustically; ‘Ahh, I’ve got someone in Africa looking after that for me.’

The New Year 5777 has already begun and Kippur is only a few days from now! May our lack of preparation, and penchant for outsourcing, not prevent us from achieving a day of solemnity and renewal.