11 October 2010

150 (46-48)

46.  "There is a river, the streams of which gladden the city of God."  It's not that the hailstones flood on Plaza Street made me think of that tonight, since I had considered this line on a plane, up in the air, piercing clouds between North Carolina and New York City but still.  As it stormed all around us and the kids noted that we had all witnessed the tornado together from the same window as well, one of them said, "Why is Hashem mad at us?"  So we went downstairs in the rain and the thunder and lightning and gathered from one of the flowing, icy streams, a container filled with hailstones, twigs and leaves which under the streetlights was gloriously beautiful.  The perception from anger to wonder shifted.  David was conflicted as well and as a reader, I'm frustrated by his own temperamental relationship to power.  Sometimes persecuted, sometimes the aggressor; rarely consistent.  Finding refuge in the earth's quakes and trembling can lead one to at least two conclusions about power and its uses.  Awe and humility are preferential to shock and awe.

47.  More musical celebration in this psalm, and in particular, a choreography of the shofar blasts.  This psalm is traditionally read on Rosh Hashanah, in preparation of the shofar service.  I had a thought reading this that next year, for Rosh Hashanah, we ought to build the shofar service around the community's core values.  Have members speak about the meaning of those values to our community.  Shofar blasts for Hesed; Shofar blasts for Talmud Torah; Shofar blasts for Tikkun Olam.  It would be interesting.

48.  "Great is the Eternal and highly to be praised, in the City of our God, God's holy mountain."  That's true.  God feels bigger in Jerusalem, but also smaller.  Scorching, foot cracking heat; explosive anger and searingly pained prayer; great, heavy stones, immobile, eternal.  But also jasmine and rosemary blooms or a pomegranate tree swaying in a cool evening wind.  A meal for the poor.  A poet's reading, or graffiti, grabbing your attention, making you laugh.

"Let Zion be glad, let daughters of Judah rejoice because of Your judgments."  I like the self-confidence.  We belong here.  And there are structures that one can rely upon to live here.  And so "mark well her ramparts, traverse her palaces, so you can tell it to the next generation."  Boast of your love for her!  Which of course begs the question--is this David talking or Solomon?  How many wives can one man have?  Are her well-marked ramparts to extend to Silwan?  To Sheikh Jarrah?  Aren't the already secure borders of Jerusalem enough?  When I walk her ramparts, or take runs around the Old City, I notice that more than three-hundred thousand Palestinians live there, too, and love her as well.  Do we each love the same woman?  Or is *his* woman different from mine?  Or are we caught up in a contest for accumulating wives?  This metaphor has me caught up in the weeds of unrestrained desire when I've already been forewarned:  "Let Zion be glad, let daughters of Judah rejoice, because of Your judgments."  It's enough to follow those, no?  Why all the commotion with land-grabs, building permits, loyalty oaths?  Enough already.

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