Thoughts on the Week 20 October (Sukkot)

Three USA presidential debates over, many viewers are left with a distinctly insecure feeling that if these are the best candidates the United States, arguably the most powerful nation in the world, can put forward, much uncomfortable uncertainty lies ahead. To the outsider, this presidential race appears more openly hostile & vicious than anything in the last half-century if not longer. It also highlights inherent problems within an electoral system that’s grown brittle and almost anachronistic.

Intended to be a political experiment that replaced the tyranny of kings, the USA founding fathers set in place a set of ‘checks & balances’ to prevent corruption of the ruling class. Over the past 240 years the USA has become a beacon and example to democracies around the free world; how sad to watch this raw, knock-down struggle of self-interests.

As in the message of Psalm 13 below, may the Almighty indeed bring salvation to our world at a time when it is most desperately needed!

RECITING PSALMS Introduction: 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 13:

Authorship of the 13th Chapter of Psalms is attributed to King David. In discouraging times, it pleads that gloom and hardship will be vanquished by our faith in G-d.

Only 6 verses, it uses a double-verse pattern; lamenting abandonment by G-d, petitioning a return to Divine favour, and ending with praise for the Almighty’s salvation.

עַד-אָנָה ה, תִּשְׁכָּחֵנִי נֶצַח; עַד-אָנָה, תַּסְתִּיר אֶת-פָּנֶיךָ מִמֶּנִּי.

How long, O LORD, will You forget me for ever? How long will You hide Your face from me? (Psalms 13:2)

Whether individual struggles or the travails of our long, dark national exile, this Psalm tells Jews to maintain Faith & Trust in the Almighty – an appropriate message during Sukkot, the Festival of Our Faithfulness.

וַאֲנִי, בְּחַסְדְּךָ בָטַחְתִּי– יָגֵל לִבִּי, בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ:אָשִׁירָה לָ-ה, כִּי גָמַל עָלָי.

But as for me, in Your mercy I do trust; my heart will rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because You have dealt bountifully with me. (Psalms 13:6)

The last verse of Psalm 13 appears in the early part of the daily Shaharit Zemirot section.

For some wonderful essays on Sukkot, please consider this brief article and this longer video lecture from Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.