AV – אב
THEME: HEARING, MUSIC, BALANCE
QUOTE: “Through prayer, our needs and wants become the source of our greatest blessing – closeness to God.” ~ Heshy Kleinman (Praying with Fire)
PSALM 59: God-my-Tower-of-Strength
CREATIVE EXPRESSION: Find ways to illustrate and express the theme and what you are learning and experiencing this month.
At the start of Psalm 59, we see that young David is in a life-threatening situation. As he flees the murderous rage of King Saul, he cries out to God for help. From this place of terror we see how, in the mere 18 lines of the Psalm, he moves to a place of serenity. His cry of despair transitions into a song of grateful praise! How does this happen?
When a person finds herself in an overwhelming situation, feeling time constraints, stressed by overpowering demands, feeling totally out of control and not able to manage, the first step to a transition is to recognise what is happening and to name it. Then she can cry out for help, knowing with full assurance that our Father hears our cries!
The enemy is described as howling, ravenous dogs that are intent on causing disturbance and to maul their victims. David knows, however, that our G-d is mightier than they and He scorns the evil among the nations. In verses 10 and 11, David uses personal adjectives to describe God. Ozi – my Strength; Misgavi – my Haven; Chasdi – my Lovingly-faithful One. Such is He to all His children and we can happily run into His Presence as into a Strong Tower. Then, like David we can take a deep breath of relief and rest. Selah!
CE: Write out the verses that resonate with you and express your responses to the Psalm.
PARTS OF THE BODY – EARS
And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
And after the fire the sound of a low whisper – a still, small voice. (1 Kings 19:12)
The volume of noise in the world, on many levels, is overwhelming. Together with the physical din, there is constant mental chatter going on in the surface of our minds from TVs, radios, cell phones, etc., etc. Imagine you are in a noisy, crowded room – maybe at a wedding, or party, or convention, and you want to speak to someone and to hear what they are saying. What would you do? Our immediate reaction is to raise our voices and to yell over the noise. It is proven, rather – in order to protect your vocal chords and to be heard more successfully, it is far better to lean in close to the person and whisper! We may consider the “still, small voice” God uses to speak to us in the midst of the cacophony of the world. When things seem out of control, as they did to Elijah in the account recorded in the first book of Kings, God did not yell at him in the whirlwind, or earthquake. Rather, He spoke in a whisper and brought calm and enabled Elijah to voice his fears, upon which He was able to reassure him. However, we need to be able to attune ourselves to His whisper, His still, small voice – to know how to hear it, to recognise it, and then we will be able to respond to it.
The noisy clatter in our own heads may be loud, demanding voices that deliver messages that make us feel afraid, or defensive, or negative and fill us with doubt of our own ability to cope. It’s likely that the prophet Elijah was being plagued by some of these voices when he was on the run from Jezebel! The messages may be ones we internalised from childhood experiences, from society and the culture we grew up in, and they may contain half-truths which confuse us. We should, logically, be able to refute and ignore them, but their strident, distracting urging claims our attention. God’s voice of truth, on the other hand, whispers reassurance and its message instils quiet confidence. Once our ears tune in and hear it, a sense of peace and calm will settle over us like a warm tallit (prayer shawl) and the other voices simply fade away.
The more we become adept at listening for and recognising our Father’s voice, we will discover the beauty and power it conveys and then we will be able to walk in the peace, reassurance, and confidence it imparts. As we align ourselves with it more and more, we we will be able to share His soft whisper, like a gentle rustling in the leaves of a tree, and create more moments of peace, comfort, and confidence, amid the raucous clatter of the world. May it be so!
POEM: A PRAYER FOR PRAYER by Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman
O my God
My soul’s companion
My heart’s precious friend
I turn to You.
I need to close out the noise
To rise above the noise
The noise that interrupts—
The noise that separates—
The noise that isolates.
I need to hear You again.
In the silence of my innermost being,
In the fragments of my yearned-for wholeness,
I hear whispers of Your Presence—
Echoes of the past when You were with me
When I felt Your nearness
When together we walked—
When You held me close, embraced me in Your love,
Laughed with me in my joy.
I yearn to hear You again.
In Your oneness, I find healing.
In the promise of Your love, I am soothed.
In Your wholeness, I too can become whole again.
Please listen to my call—
help me to find the words
help me find the strength within
help me shape my mouth, my voice, my heart
so that I can direct my spirit and find You in prayer
In words only my heart can speak
In songs only my soul can sing
Lifting my eyes and heart to You.
Adonai S’fatai Tiftach— open my lips, precious God,
So that I can speak with You again.
MUSIC AND RECEPTIVITY
What is the extraordinary power in the gift of music that God has given us? In some ways, music and song are more effective than speech in expressing our thoughts and emotions. Medical science has proven that even a baby in the womb responds to both instrumental music and the sounds of voices, particularly that of its father. It has also been observed