127. Did you know that the priest who used the phrase "the family that prays together stays together" has the jingle written for him by an ad executive and that the priest was used by the CIA to fight left-wing politics in Central America with his religious campaign? And no, I didn't learn that by watching "Mad Men."
Frankly, I prefer "Except the Eternal build the house, they labor in vain that build it; except the Eternal keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." No matter the faith or lack thereof, I believe that a home, whether occupied by one or many, ought to be founded on morality. It is the foundation of a purposeful existence.
So are kids. Our stroller parking lot at shul can be a real pain to navigate. There are alot of them and in a neighborhood as precious as ours, it's important to remember that it's not really about the stroller or its adorned add-ons like organic juice dispensers, the perfect coffee-cup holder, or nibbly cheerios receptacle but the soul in seat, the little one, brought forth to life to add goodness and kindness to the world.
"Children are the heritage of the Eternal; the fruit of the womb is a reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of one's youth."
Let's raise them to fight injustice, to shoot arrows that will pierce the armor of inequality, to destroy the giants of hatred and oppression.
"Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be put to shame, when they speak with their enemies in the gate."
128. "A song of ascents. Happy is every one that feareth the Eternal, that walk in His ways.
When thou eatest the labor of thy hands, happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee."
I was explaining to one of my kids my teenage decision one summer to not play baseball for my high school team but to work. I gave up the dream of earning a Letter for a jacket and traded it in for the satisfaction of labor and earning my keep by cutting lawns, all day every day from June to September. There was a life-long lesson there and despite certain lost opportunities of youth (the letter, the jacket, the girl) I earned instead a lifetime commitment to work, self-sufficiency, and independence that I've always appreciated. And after all, what really is guaranteed? Here the poet argues that all one can truly attempt to achieve is a god-fearing life at the center of a family, employing the imagery of a well-tended garden of productivity and reproduction.
"Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine, in the innermost parts of thy house; thy children like olive plants, round about thy table. Behold, surely thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Eternal. The Eternal bless thee out of Zion; and see thou the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life; and see thy children's children. Peace be upon Israel."
129. Contrasted with the abundant blessing of the above psalm is this, a curse: "The Eternal is righteous; He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. Let them be ashamed and turned backward, all they that hate Zion. Let them be as the grass upon the housetops, which witherith afore it springeth up; wherewith the reaper filleth not his hand, nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom."
Everyone cutting off his enemies produce! And with signs of glaciers melting more and more, who is Zion? Who is wicked?