No Pain, No Gain

“Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.” – Psalm 126:5

Is it necessary to experience sorrow before we can truly appreciate the joy of redemption? Is this an axiom that can be applied to life in general? It is written in Psalms, “those who sow in tears will reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5). If we think about the value of pain, to learn from our suffering, then the idea begins to be credible as a principle. Thus, it follows, that our more challenging experiences in life are often the ones from where we learn the most.

A friend once related to me, how after not eating for several days, he sat at someone else’s campfire, and was able to procure some baked potatoes. He said that those potatoes tasted like the best meal he had ever had. I am using this as a simplistic example, to convey the understanding that the depths of pain have the potential to lead to the heights of joy.

The principle is reiterated, “Though he goeth on his way weeping that beareth the measure of seed, he shall come home with joy, bearing his sheaves” (Psalm 126:6). The passage conveys the understanding that in this life, we will experience sorrow; yet, in the world-to-come, we will experience joy. If we sow tears in Olam Hazeh (This World), then we will receive a joyous reward for our efforts in Olam Haba (the World to Come).

Seek Refuge

“Happy is the man who finds refuge in You, whose mind is on the [pilgrim] highways.” – Psalms 84:6, JPS 1985 Tanach

To take refuge in G-d is something that can be done today, and has been done across the ages. To keep one’s mind on the roads leading to Jerusalem that were full of those who came to observe the holidays from outside of Jerusalem, today becomes partly an excursion to our glorious past, yet, also possible to envision as this occurs in the modern era, whether by foot, car, or bus. Or for those living overseas, by plane.

Additionally this latter part of the verse, concerning a focus on the pilgrimage may also be rendered as an ascent that led to perceiving G-d in their hearts. Thus, this path of the heart, that all may partake of, may lead to the fulfillment of a constant awareness of G-d, such that this acquisition may outwardly reflect the inner radiance that results from connecting to G-d, and following His moral law.

Truly, a refuge from the external forces of modernity, and widespread pseudo-morality in the world today, this path may sustain those who seek a higher moral ground in their lives. So, as we pass through the Valley of Thorns, may our efforts to meet these current challenges, blossom into a means to draw closer to G-d in our lives on a continual basis.

May we go from “strength to strength,” until we stand before the L-RD in Zion (derived from Psalms 84:8).

reflections: Psalm 77:5

“Thy way was in the sea, and Thy path in the great waters, and Thy footsteps were not known.” – Psalms 77:20, JPS 1917 Tanach

After the Children of Israel crossed through the Sea of Reeds, the sea returned to its original state. As a result, the actual footprints of the Children of Israel were covered up by the waters. Therefore, there was no visible reminder left, in regard to the great miracle that was done for our ancestors. It’s as if G-d’s footprint, so to speak, were no longer recognizable, in terms of His guiding hand that figuratively speaking, parted the sea. The same may be true today as well, for all of the countless miracles, whereof we do not even attribute His hand as having had any influence. Yet, if we knew the truth of G-d’s involvement in our lives, then we would abound with gratitude for all that He has done for us as individuals, and also as a nation.

Psalm 72:5

“They shall fear Thee while the sun endureth, and so long as the moon, throughout all generations.” – Psalms 72:5, JPS 1917 Tanach

The awe, reverence, and respect due to H’Shem should not be misplaced upon others amongst mankind, who not only aggrandize themselves, rather, also have no fear of G-d. So, the proper yiras H’Shem should be inculcated across the generations, beginning with the younger generation. Today, this is more important than ever, in acknowledgment of the indoctrination of youth, who are being instructed in accordance with the pseudo-morality of Wokism. Moreover, it is important as well to reach the millennials who lack a religious background, and whom a significant percentage are known to have favorable views of socialism. The truth must not be “swept under the carpet;” rather, an alternative to the indoctrination must be made available to others.

reflections: Psalm 66

“Come and see the works of G-d.” – Psalms 66:5, JPS 1917 Tanach

The “works of G-d” include Yam Suf (Splitting of the Sea), when G-d “turned the sea into dry land;” and the crossing through the Jordan, when “they went through the river on foot.” These are examples of G-d’s mastery of His creation, what is often referred to today as nature. When outside in the natural world, viewing a sunset, or majestic mountains, let us recall the One who maintains the entire world. For, His essence is the reality behind all of the beauty of nature.

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Psalm 61: A Refuge in Exile

A Refuge in Exile: reflections on Psalm 61

It is interesting to note, that David’s flight into exile parallels the exiles of the Jewish people. Even today, during the current exile, we can learn from his words, in regard to the challenges that we face. For, we are indeed in exile, inasmuch that the Third Temple has yet to be built. So, even though, Israel has been a recreated state since 1948, many Jews still live outside of Israel in other countries around the world. The ingathering is not yet complete.

So, we may say with David, “May I take refuge in the shelter of your wings” (Psalms 61:5). Because, no matter where we live, the Shechinah, H’Shem’s Presence will be a refuge for the righteous. As is written elsewhere, “For He concealeth me in His pavilion in the day of evil; He hideth me in the covert of his tent; He lifteth me up upon a rock” (Psalms 27:5, JPS 1917 Tanach).

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reflections: Psalms 55:23

Tehillim (Psalms): reflections on the Psalms

“Cast thy burden upon the L-RD, and He will sustain thee.”

– Psalms 55:23, JPS 1917 Tanach

If we ourselves took responsibility for shouldering our burdens, without seeking help from H’Shem, how could we possibly bear our challenges in life? Even in seeking the help of others, if we do not also rely on the L-RD, then we are limiting ourselves and Him. It is as if we may unconsciously say to ourselves, H’Shem can not effectually change my situation for the better. Or, as is written in Torah, in no uncertain terms, “Is the arm of the L-RD too short?” (Numbers 11:23) So, we would do well to understand that H’Shem wants us to depend on Him. As is written, “in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:6, JPS 1917 Tanach).

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Psalms: Day 1 – The Path

Tehillim: Day 1 (Psalms 1 – 9) for 1 Tammuz 5782

“Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful.” – Psalm 1:1, JPS 1917 Tanach

“Notice that in these three are comprised all man’s position, either he walks or stands or sits.” – Radak on Psalms 1:1;

Where is the dividing line between the wicked and the sinful? And, can we sincerely count ourselves amongst the righteous? If the wicked sin intentionally, and the sinful are those who err by unintentional sins, because they are not careful, while travelling along the derech (path) of life, then where do we stand?

Incidentally, regarding, “nor stood in the way of sinners,” Radak further comments, that the righteous person “does not linger with, nor does he devote himself to them, neither does he remain in their company, lest he should learn of their works” (ibid.).

Moreover, the third category mentioned in the pasuk (verse), “nor sat in the seat of the scornful,” are the scorners, those who mockingly portray themselves as righteous, while degrading others.

If we can transcend all three of these negative categories, and root out any vestiges of similarities to these types of aveiros (sins), then we are “praiseworthy” in H’Shem’s eyes, even if we are not looked upon favorably by others.

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Tehillim (Psalms): Day 30

Reflections on the Psalms: Day 30, psalms 145-150

“He safeguards truth forever.” – Ps. 146:6

How reassuring that G-d has taken it upon Himself to place a guard around truth, to ultimately prevent the erosion, decay, and dissipation of His divinely inspired words, so that truth may be preserved, ultimately for the use of mankind. And, this current time cries out for truth.

So, He also keeps His attention focused on all human beings, as is written, alluding to us, “He counts the number of the stars” (147:4); that is to say how much moreso, does He cause His awareness to be placed upon our paths. And, when we stray from our individual course in life, He will bring back His “devout ones” (Ps. 148:14).

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Tonic for Mind & Body

“My heart and my flesh cry out to the living G-d.”

– Psalm 84:3

It is known to we, who pray to G-d in all sincerity, with heartfelt conviction, that our souls are nourished by Him, because He is the Source of renewal for our troubled selves. Yet, G-d is also a tonic for our body as well, so that both our heart (the seat of emotion, and biblically speaking, akin to the soul), and our body may yearn for His ever-flowing waters of refreshment. Although, at times we may flee like a bird soaring in flight, we will soon return to the place of our refuge, within the confines of our relationship to G-d (Psalm 84:4).

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