Thoughts for the Week 9 March

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: Many events were held and much has been written about International Women’s Day this week. Along with many others, we support the Be Bold For Change initiative. We are so proud of the amazing achievements of women in the Rambam Sephardi community. May we be worthy of their support throughout the year.

One project building momentum quickly and worth drawing attention to is Nisa-Nashim, led by Laura Marks and Julie Siddiqi. This grassroots interfaith women’s initiative is creative and wonderfully social, and at the same time discuss issues of relevance to the Jewish and Muslim communities. More info can be found here.

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 33: Psalm 33 begins without attribution to King David. It can be divided into several familiar themes; the call to worship G-d with praise and jubilation, recognition that all of humanity must recognise G-d’s sovereignty, acknowledgment that the Almighty observes us from Heaven and that our victory in battle is not from physical strength, and the need to be in awe of G-d and to long for a relationship with the Divine Presence.

Readers will recognise this Psalm from the Shabbat morning Pisukei D’Zimrah. Some individual verses are in use throughout our traditional annual prayer cycle. Because of its jubilant tone, some scholars have suggested it may be from the time of the Maccabees.

רַנְּנוּ צַדִּיקִים, בַּ-ה; לַיְשָׁרִים, נָאוָה תְהִלָּה. Rejoice in the LORD, you righteous; praise is desirable from the upright. (Psalms 33:1)

Just as the natural laws are consistent, so are G-d’s moral and spiritual principles. As G-d has tempered justice with mercy, so too shall we act compassionately towards each other.

בִּדְבַר ה, שָׁמַיִם נַעֲשׂוּ; וּבְרוּחַ פִּיו, כָּל-צְבָאָם. By G-d’s word were the heavens made; and all the host by the breath of G-d’s mouth. (Psalms 33:6)

The world only exists because G-d commands it each day. Were it not for G-d’s eternal life force, Creation would cease.

עֲצַת ה, לְעוֹלָם תַּעֲמֹד; מַחְשְׁבוֹת לִבּוֹ, לְדֹר וָדֹר. The counsel of the LORD stands for ever, the thoughts in G-d’s heart for all generations. (Psalms 33:11)

Natural laws govern our world; beyond that is the potential for a more personal relationship with the Divine.

מִמְּכוֹן-שִׁבְתּוֹ הִשְׁגִּיחַ– אֶל כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ. From the place of habitation G-d looks intently upon all inhabitants of the earth; (Psalms 33:14)

Whosoever violates life’s spiritual principles won’t endure, but those who practise righteousness will persevere and be preserved.

הִנֵּה עֵין ה, אֶל-יְרֵאָיו; לַמְיַחֲלִים לְחַסְדּוֹ. Behold, the eye of the LORD is toward the fearful, toward they who wait for G-d’s mercy; (Psalms 33:18)

G-d will relate with us through the attribute of lovingkindness in the same measure that we choose to relate in our minds and hearts with G-d.

יְהִי-חַסְדְּךָ ה עָלֵינוּ: כַּאֲשֶׁר, יִחַלְנוּ לָךְ. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we have waited for You. (Psalms 33:22)