Thoughts for the Week 2 March

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.]

For those who read Psalms regularly as a prayer for well-being, it’s interesting to note the 150 chapters are divided into 3 different partitions. There is the Days-of-the-Week division where one can recite roughly 20-30 Psalms per day completing the entirety within 7 days. There is a separate division based on the 30-day Calendar where one can read roughly 5 chapters per day and also finish the entirety within a month.

Then there is a division which comprises 5 books; Book 1 consists of Psalms 1–41, Book 2 of Psalms 42–72, Book 3 of Psalms 73–89, Book 4 of Psalms 90–106, and Book 5 of Psalms 107–150. This last division is referenced in the midrash as being modelled on the 5 Books of the Torah. Scholars have noted among the differences between the 5 books of Psalms is the use of the name for G-d. Books 1, 4 & 5 predominantly use the 4-letter name beginning with the letter Yod, while Books 2 & 3 more frequently use the name Elohkim.

Chapter 32: One can but marvel at the emotional depths evoked by King David. Psalm 32 explores the joy and virtue of forgiveness contrasted by the ignorance and self-loathing of sin. Considered one of the Thanksgiving Psalms of the Individual, the chapter ends with a triumphant cheer from those who are righteous in heart.

Not by the innocent but rather for those who have sincerely repented, they can take solace in being forgiven by G-d.

אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם–לֹא יַחְשֹׁב ה לוֹ עָו‍ֹן; וְאֵין בְּרוּחוֹ רְמִיָּה.

Happy is the one to whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. (Psalms 32:2)

Penitents shouldn’t expect to be spared misfortune or suffering but rather when difficulties arise, they should pray not to be swept away in a flood of remorse and self-pity.

עַל-זֹאת, יִתְפַּלֵּל כָּל-חָסִיד אֵלֶיךָ– לְעֵת מְצֹא: רַק, לְשֵׁטֶף מַיִם רַבִּים– אֵלָיו, לֹא יַגִּיעוּ.

For this let the devout pray at a time when You may be found; surely, when the great waters overflow, they won’t reach him. (Psalms 32:6)

Just as an animal being groomed and adorned needs restraint for failing to understand its discomfort is for a better purpose, those being chastised mustn’t be defiant. They too should realise this is for one’s spiritual benefit and improvement.

אַל-תִּהְיוּ, כְּסוּס כְּפֶרֶד– אֵין הָבִין: בְּמֶתֶג-וָרֶסֶן עֶדְיוֹ לִבְלוֹם; בַּל, קְרֹב אֵלֶיךָ.

Be not as the horse or the mule, which has no understanding; whose mouth must be held with bit and bridle so not to come near you. (Psalms 32:9)

The wicked who are unchanged by their suffering experience it over and over, whereas the joy of those who repent knows no limit.

רַבִּים מַכְאוֹבִים, לָרָשָׁע: וְהַבּוֹטֵחַ בַּ-ה–חֶסֶד, יְסוֹבְבֶנּוּ.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked; but he that trusts in the LORD, mercy encompasses him. (Psalms 32:10)

שִׂמְחוּ בַ-ה וְגִילוּ, צַדִּיקִים; וְהַרְנִינוּ, כָּל-יִשְׁרֵי-לֵב.

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all who are upright in heart. (Psalms 32:11)

This Psalm is in the Yom Kippur liturgy. It is also part of the 10 Psalms that comprise the Tikun HaKelali (General Rectification) of Rabbi Nahman of Breslav.

PURIM: It’s less than 10 days until Purim – so you’ll understand if we’re very excited about this year’s Rambam Sephardi celebrations on 11/12 March. The new development this week is our fantastic Persian menu (click here) for Sunday’s Seudah prepared by our own 5* chefs Jason Sasson & Lauren Carmel! And, for a sneak preview from dress rehearsal, please click here. We urge those who plan to attend the meal to please book now!

HALAKHOT OF PURIM Attached is a description of the main halakhot pertaining to Purim. Please note that this year – because Purim occurs on Saturday night & Sunday – the Fast of Esther is advanced to Thursday 9 March, beginning at 4:51am and concluding at 6:35pm.

SAVE A LIFE – SEEKING YOUR ASSISTANCE A final reminder this week that we’re urgently appealing to readers to participate in a drive (to volunteer a saliva sample) to help Sipy Howard, a member of our UK Sephardi community suffering from blood cancer. Please attend the 5 March remaining session at BES Synagogue or contact DKMS to get a free sample kit.

MHAS FOLLOW-UP Following-up after the Mental Health Awareness Shabbat of 3/4 February, we’re hoping to begin a series of Mindfulness Meditation workshops and are looking for a few volunteers interested in helping to facilitate a regular programme of short sessions, as an on going activity in Borehamwood.

No previous experience is necessary. This will be a chance to find out about the benefits of practicing Mindfulness while helping others to participate. If you’re interested, please contact or click here and send us your contact details.

We wish academic success to the children who this week received placements in the school of their choice. We remind parents that if your child didn’t get a place yet please do not panic as some spaces are likely to be freed up in weeks ahead.