52. Fifty-two cards in a deck. A house of cards. Houses of Worship, communities, have toxicities, ways of doing business that seep into and ooze out of the fiber of their organizational structures. I know this in my own synagogue, where certain inherited ways of doing business, of the ways people speak to one another, act toward one another, continues, over and over, killing by a thousand cuts, leaving great scars, or, quietly closing doors. "The tongue deviseth destruction, like a sharp razor, working deceitfully." The power of language to destroy, never made more clear by David than here. The destructive razors of deceit. This is powerful language, a particular strength we Jews possess. "Thou lovest evil more than good; falsehood rather than speaking righteousnes. Selah."
Selah. Selah! Stop with the deceit! The falsehood! The lies! Are there not mitzvot to perform? Mouths to feed? Homes to build? What exactly is going on here? And just when you think your own House of God is dysfunctional in its own special way, you encounter something so much more comically worse than your own worst nightmares about Jewish public voices that you wonder: how many times does history repeat itself as farce as to make us tire of, well, farce? I mean, really? Do I actually have to see on the same front page of the New York Times the monumentally historic rescue of 33 Chilean miners alongside some homophobic Haredi showboat ostentatiously standing in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral--without the Cardinal, I might add--spewing forth his hatred of those who dare to love those they love? I mean, on a certain level, shut the fuck up, you know? I beg forgiveness of the good people in my community whom I have offended by my language but incivility demands, on occasion, a dose of its own medicine. I'm embarrassed and disgusted. Thank God for King David. His poetry soothes me.
"But as for me, I am like a leafy olive tree in the Beit Elohim. I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever." Think about that. Whose mercy? Where?
53. It begins with denial--not the pained skepticism of struggle and sorrow but the arrogant dismissal, the de-fertilizing hatred. "The fool hath said in his heart: 'There is no God'; they have dealt corruptly, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none that doeth good." This is the guy that disregards human life, plowing through others, seeing means, only means to a selfish, bitter end. Seeing means but not discerning, distinguishing, thinking critically. Mosse used to open his lectures on Jews in European history with the words, "A Jew is an outsider with a critical mind." David said it like this, "God looked forth from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any man of understanding, that did seek after God." Can you imagine what it means to ask, "Is God looking for me? Do I merit being found?"
54. "Doth David not hide himself with us?" This is a very loaded question. It implies complicity above all, collective guilt, even. Or deceit. Mendacious double-crossing; distrust; urgency; arrogance. What knotted treachery! Yet how does he answer? He asks God to save him by His name. "And right me by Thy might." Though sheltered, he intuits no trust and therefore trusts in only He that can be truly trusted: "Behold God is my helper; the Eternal is for me as the upholder of my soul."