Thoughts for the Week 24 November

AISH UK AMAZING RESULTS Congratulations to Aish UK for raising more than £1.1 million in 24 hours earlier this week. Helped by a 3-for-1 programme of matching donors, more than 1,500 people or institutions contributed on the day.

Aish UK has served the Anglo-Jewish community for 23 years. Yet, to see this remarkable outpouring of support was hugely exciting.

VIENNA CONFERENCE The rabbi will be in Vienna this week for the 3rd segment of the KAICIID programme on Conflict Resolution & Peace Building. The 20 delegates from around the world will be learning practical skills and techniques, and planning workshops for their respective countries.

And, as a follow-up to last week’s tribute to the Late Leonard Cohen, the former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks posted a 15-minute Parasha piece about Cohen’s last song ‘You Want It Darker’ and it’s parallels with the world of Akeidat Yitshak (the Sacrifice of Isaac). Viewed by more than 365,000, the Chief Rabbi explained that while he was no Saint, Cohen was at times a profoundly prophetic voice for our times.

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 18: Authorship of the 18th chapter of Psalms is credited to King David. It is 51 verses long and closely mirrors the story of David’s life and struggles also found in II Samuel Chap 2. It can be divided into 5 sections; all different variations of praise for G-d who delivered him from his enemies.

Referred to as a ‘Song,’ Section 1 espouses David’s love for the Almighty. Section 2 recounts in celestial and terrestrial imagery the ways G-d rescued David from danger. In Section 3, David professes his righteousness and loyalty to G-d. In Section 4, he attributes his military success exclusively to the Almighty. And, in Section 5, David anticipates continuing support and strength from the Divine.

Several of the verses in Chapter 18 appear in well-known prayers. The following two are part of the Sephardi liturgy before we read the Torah (though in the siddur they appear in reverse order). 

הָאֵל, תָּמִים דַּרְכּוֹ:אִמְרַתה צְרוּפָה; מָגֵן הוּא, לְכֹל הַחֹסִים בּוֹ. As for God, His way is perfect;the word of the LORD is tried; He is a shield unto all them that take refuge in Him. (Psalms 18:31)

כִּי מִי אֱלוֹהַּ, מִבַּלְעֲדֵי ה; וּמִי צוּר, זוּלָתִי אֱלֹהֵינוּ. For who is God, save the LORD? And who is a Rock, except our God? (Psalms 18:32)

The final verse here appears in the penultimate paragraph of Birkat HaMazon (Grace after Meals).  

מַגְדִּל, יְשׁוּעוֹת מַלְכּוֹ:וְעֹשֶׂה חֶסֶד, לִמְשִׁיחוֹלְדָוִד וּלְזַרְעוֹ; עַדעוֹלָם. Great salvation He gives to His king; and shows mercy to His anointed, to David and to his seed, for evermore. (Psalms 18:50)