16 November 2010

150 (133-135)

 133.  Hineh Mah Tov.  "How good and pleasant for us to dwell together as brothers."  We can all sing that.  Did you know that the poet goes on to suggest that the feeling of fealty and community are best understood as an anointment of fine oil, dripping down the head of the exalted priest Aaron, or like dew rolling down a mountain top--forever, from the source of Forever?  I suppose kids at camp feel that way, rocking back and forth in the grass, far from school and sibling rivalry and annoying parents.  Or rats that cross your path; garbage long neglected; callous drivers; racist neighbors; corrupt and greedy stewards of the "common good."  Are there bad mountains and good mountains but still piles all the same?  The rallying mess of dwelling together that tightens its grip, closes rank, and burns from its records those whose names are unfamiliar; and the rallying assembly of pleasant dwelling, the well-oiled machine of commonality, friendship, and decency. 

"Like the dew of Hermon, that cometh down upon the mountains of Zion."  Goodness, at times, has to come from far away, travel great distance, in order, once again, to emanate its decency from the source of Forever.

134.  Again with the standing all night long.  This time, like a magic trick, with hands lifted toward the Sanctuary of the Eternal.  I imagine a community meeting.  All members of CBE standing at the corners of Eighth Avenue and Garfield Place, hands raised toward the Sanctuary, blessing God.  We need blessing to repair our sacred spaces.  But we need money, too.  Lots of it.  "The Eternal bless thee out of Zion; even He that made heaven and earth."  This is a truth we have been davenning for three thousand years.  Still, please give.  It's cold outside.   And our arms are tired.

135.  Hey!  Who caused the vapors to rise from the corners of the earth?  What is going on over there?!  Alright, alright!  It's lightning out of the window over here!  Hello!?  History marches on; we survive against all odds.  Egypt; the Wilderness; Canaan; the Land of Israel.  Nothing can stop us--and their "gods" are mere idols.  Allow me to repeat myself:  Silver and gold are mere works of their hands; they have ears that don't hear; eyes that don't see; mouths with no breath; clay made from clay.  It all fades away.  House of Israel!  House of Aaron!  House of Levi!*  Blessed be the Eternal out of Zion, who dwelleth in Jerusalem.  Hallelujah!"

*("ye that fear the Eternal,"  as an aside, by the way.)

In other words, as I read this psalm:  We've been given the strength and support to survive.  But man, do we ever have the potential, at any given moment, to tear ourselves down.

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