Thoughts for the Week 30 March

As we adjust to the clock-change last weekend trying to make up for that lost hour of sleep, this week we have news of the formal commencement of BREXIT negotiations. The national decision, made just over 9 months ago, was launched through formal diplomatic channels on Wednesday.

On its own, this is a great testimony to the vibrancy of democracy in the UK. That global financial markets were unaffected, may indicate the desire by most investors to see the UK get on with its business and succeed.

Some in the Anglo-Jewish community perhaps may see a connection between Brexit and Exodus or BREXODUS – defined as spending the upcoming Passover holidays outside the European Union- as both are intended as protests against perceived oppression.

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 36: Psalm 36 is attributed to David, servant of the Lord, and is about the false wages of sinfulness. It is divided into 3 main themes; the attractive lure of transgression, the antidote of Divine kindness and righteousness, and a call for the downfall of the wicked.

Referring to the Evil Inclination, David informs that Sin corrupts the innocent, telling them there is no Providence. And since the Almighty is unconcerned with their behaviour than why be concerned about G-d while making one’s way in the world.

נְאֻם-פֶּשַׁע לָרָשָׁע, בְּקֶרֶב לִבִּי; אֵין-פַּחַד אֱ-לֹהִים, לְנֶגֶד עֵינָיו. Transgression speaks to the wicked, there is no fear of God before his eyes. (Psalms 36:2)

Instead, David asserts, G-d’s lovingkindness is with those who pursue righteousness. Encompassing all of Creation, there is a system of justice and accountability.

מַה-יָּקָר חַסְדְּךָ, אֱ-לֹהִים: וּבְנֵי אָדָם–בְּצֵל כְּנָפֶיךָ, יֶחֱסָיוּן. How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. (Psalms 36:8)

Those who choose to follow pathways to purity benefit not just by avoiding Divine punishment but they avail themselves of the joys of life as reflected through G-d’s light.

כִּי-עִמְּךָ, מְקוֹר חַיִּים; בְּאוֹרְךָ, נִרְאֶה-אוֹר. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light do we see light. (Psalms 36:10)

David offers a prayer for all times; beseeching the Almighty’s protection against veering off onto the path of sin – for the wicked shall surely fall – while aspiring instead to live in the presence of the Divine.

שָׁם נָפְלוּ, פֹּעֲלֵי אָוֶן; דֹּחוּ, וְלֹא-יָכְלוּ קוּם. There the workers of iniquity have fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise. (Psalms 36:13)

It might be added that the tragedy of sin, experienced by all with a sense of conscience, is the great post-event let-down. The excitement generated in anticipation – usually related to hoped-for selfish gains – proves far less desirable; and the sinner quickly realises their immediate gratification was far outweighed by a longer-term sense of lost spirituality or holiness.

In our liturgical tradition, verse 6 is found in the Tsidkatekha prayer recited on Shabbat afternoon, and verses 8-11 are found both in the recitation for putting on one’s Talit as well as in the Anglo-Jewry Ashkenaz funerary service.