Let Torah Live in You

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For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life.
Deuteronomy 32:47a

Great is Torah, for it gives life to those who practice it in this world, and in the World to Come. As the Scripture states, “For the words of the Torah are life to he who finds them, and a healing to all his flesh” (Proverbs 4:22)…, “She shall give to your head a garland of grace, a crown of glory she shall grant you” (4:9). [1]

 

Torah – G-d’s Word – not just to be read but embraced and lived out.

As we finish one Torah cycle and move into another, may we be reminded that Torah both starts and ends with gemilut hasadim, acts of loving kindness. In Genesis, G-d clothed the naked (3:21) and in Deuteronomy He buried the dead (34:6). The Rabbis also tell us that in the middle of Torah we see another act of loving kindness when G-d visited the sick (Genesis 18:1). [2]

Acts of loving kindness permeate G-d’s words and are at the very core of who He is. Made in His image, it should be at the very core of who we are also. Rabbi Shai Held tells us, “If we study Torah and it does not make us kinder and more able to be present in the face of sorrow and loss, then it is not Torah that we have learned.” [3]

As we finish one cycle and move into another, may the words of our lips and the work of our hands always, always, always be of loving kindness. May these Words of Life truly be alive and active – breathing life into our hearts and through us breathing hope and healing into the world.

Chazak, chazak, ve’nitchazek! Be strong, be strong and may we strengthen one another!

In Him who loves us with an infinite love,
Cindy

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She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and those who lay hold of her are blessed.
Proverbs 3:18

LET TORAH   by Alden Solovy

Let Torah hold your moments
Carry your days,
Lift your years.

Let Torah fill your hands,
Nourish your breath,
Refresh your heart.

Let Torah sustain your words,
Enliven your deeds
Lead you home.

For Torah is in each life and each generation,
In the yearning for G-d and in G-d’s yearning for us,
The flow of secrets from Sinai,
Divine guidance and grace,
Calling out to you dear sisters and brothers:
‘Awake you slumberers!
Awake you who wander empty and lonely without wonder and awe.
Have you forgotten this precious gift?
Have you forsaken your past and your future?
Have you traded your birthright for empty promises?’

This, then, is G-d’s command:
Let Torah hold you,
Fill you,
Sustain you.
Let Torah guide you into radiance and mystery.
Study and learn,
Question and seek,
Hear and grow,
Lifting your life in sacred service.
Let Torah be your breath and your heartbeat.

Blessed are You, Source of Torah.

© 2012 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

* Photo Credit: Yoram Raanan, Tree of Light
** Photo Credit: shutterstock.com

1. Ethics of the Fathers 6:7
2. Sotah 14a
3. Rabbi Shai Held, The Heart of Torah Volume 2,297

You and I – Leonard Nimoy

Kavanah is a Hebrew word meaning intention and focus. The rabbis often speak of ‘kavanah of the heart’ in terms of prayer. This Hebrew word is deeply significant as we stand on the threshold of the Hebrew calendar month of ELUL.

The following poem speaks into this season of repentance and reflection as a reminder that we do have a set time that we walk on this side of eternity. And that knowing, that realization, is a gift!

As we move into Elul may we have intent and focus and may every intention and thought of our hearts be profoundly aware of the One to whom we are speaking.

You and I *
Leonard Nimoy

I am not immortal.
Whatever I put off for later
May never be.
Whoever doesn’t know now
That I love them
May never know.
I have killed time.
I have squandered it.
I have lost days…weeks…
As a man of unlimited wealth
Might drop coins on the street
And never look back.
I know now, that there will be an end,
A limit.
But there is time
Valuable and precious time
To walk,
talk,
breathe.
Time to touch,
taste,
care.
To warm the child
Who is cold and lonely.
There is time to love
I promise myself…
I will.
I am…
I am ready
I am ready to give
I am ready to give and to receive
I am ready to give and to receive love.

* Blog of Rabbi John Rosove

The Seeds of Hope Planted on Tisha b’Av

We are close to entering Bein Hameitzarim – The Narrow Straits – or Three Weeks Of Sorrow. As we enter this time it is good to remember that this time of grief can also be seen as a time of healing.  Rachel Barenblat explains: 

[The Three Weeks] This is the corridor between two painful anniversaries: the date when Jerusalem’s ancient city walls were first breached, and the date when the Temple was destroyed. What does it say about us as a people that we remember these dates each year? Is it spiritually healthy to hold on to ancient wounds?…

The breach in ancient Jerusalem’s city wall is a paradigmatic cracking-open from integrity and wholeness to brokenness. And as those of us who offer pastoral care know well, every grief that we feel triggers every other grief. Every brokenness evokes other brokenness: whether the breaking of a marriage, or the breaking of a life’s trajectory, or the breaking of a heart suffused with sorrow.

The Jewish calendar gives us these Three Weeks as a time for feeling the brokenness that characterizes every heart and every life. These weeks offer an invitation, and an opportunity to feel what hurts. Not because we’re going to stay in that brokenness, but precisely because we’re not — and because recognizing what’s broken is the first step toward healing, as individuals and as a community.*

Blessed are you Lord our G-d, King of the Universe. Abba may we allow this time of sorrow to teach and reshape our hearts. May we come out of The Narrow Straits more grateful for the blessings we have and filled with even greater hope and expectation for return of Messiah Yeshua – for a time when wars will cease when the land and people will be healed and Your knowledge and glory will fill the earth!

ADONAI, turn us back to you; and we will come back; renew our days, as they were in the past. (Lamentations 5:21)

THE SEEDS PLANTED ON TISHA B’AV**
– Ovadya ben Malka

A long sorrow follows us into the future.
A sadness long foretold
Baked into loaves
Laid out under the lamps
Of unforgiving time
Meeting our questions with silence.

A great joy lives in our future
A seed planted in the soil of memory,
Watered by our tears
Pushing roots into the past and green shoots into the future
And calling to us: Live!
Only live to see me blossom!

A blessing and a curse were laid on us that day.
We have drunk our fill of the curse,
Lived it through every dark and empty moment of chaos,
Sought unattainable death amidst a sea of corpses.
However large or small a bowl one brings,
This curse fills it.

A curse and a blessing were laid on us that day.
Having lived the curse,
Can we doubt the blessing?
We’ve felt the change, stirring beneath the spiral coil of time,
See the green shoots of hope blossoming in our Land renewed.
However large or small a seed we plant,
This blessing fills it.

Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am The Lord.
Ezekiel 37:5-6

* Rachel Barenblat, Why The Three Weeks Of Grief In The Jewish Calendar Can Be Healing
** Ovadya ben Malka, From Memory And Redemption – Reflections From A Damaged Mirror

 

PSALM for DAY 7 – SHABBAT / Saturday

May the Psalm of the Day be a blessing to you!

Follow along as Keren recites the Psalm of the Day.

 

Day 7 – SHABBAT – Saturday

Psalm 92

A Song for Shabbat

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High;
to declare Your steadfast love in the morning,
and Your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your work;
at the work of Your hands I sing for joy.

How great are Your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep.
The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
but You, O Lord are high forever.

For behold Your enemies, O Lord,
for behold Your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

But You have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
You have poured over me fresh oil.
My eyes have seen the downfall of all my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the House of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;

He is my Rock,
and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

Artwork credit: Yoram Raanan, Israel.

PSALM for DAY 6 – Yom Shishi / Friday

May the Psalm of the Day be a blessing to you!

Follow along as Keren recites the Psalm of the Day.

 

Day 6 – Yom Shishi – Friday

Psalm 93

The Lord reigns;
He is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed;
He has put on strength as His belt.
Yes, the world is established;
it shall never be moved.

Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.

The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunder of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the Lord on high is mighty!

Your decrees are very trustworthy;
holiness befits Your house,
O Lord forevermore1

 

Artwork credit: Shimon Nachshon, Israel.

PSALM for Day 5 – Yom Chamishi / Thursday

May the Psalm of the Day be a blessing to you!

Follow along as Keren recites the Psalm of the Day.

 

Yom Chamishi – Day 5 – Thursday

Psalm 81

To Him who grants victory – by Asaph

Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.
Blow the shofar at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.
For it is a statute for Israel, a judgment of the God of Jacob.
He made it a decree in Joseph when he went out over the land of Egypt.

I hear a language I had not known:
“I have removed his shoulder from the burden,
your hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”  Selah.

“Hear O my people, while I admonish you.
O Israel, if you would but listen to Me.
There shall be no strange god among you; you shall not bow down to a foreign god.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”

But My people would not listen to My voice,
and Israel would not submit to Me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts,
to follow their own counsels.
Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
that Israel would walk in My ways.
I would soon subdue their enemies and turn My hand against their foes.
Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward Him,
and their fate would last forever.

But He would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.

Artwork credit: Matt Doll

 

 

 

 

 

PSALM for DAY 4 – Yom Revi’i / Wednesday

May the Psalm of the Day be a blessing to you!

Follow along as Keren recites the Psalm of the Day.

 

Yom Revi’i  – Day 4 – Wednesday

PSALM  94

God of retribution. Lord, God of retribution, appear!
Rise up, Judge of the earth. Repay to the arrogant what they deserve.
How long shall the wicked, Lord, how long shall the wicked triumph?
They pour out insolent words. All the evildoers are full of boasting.
They crush Your people, Lord, and oppress Your inheritance.
They kill the widow and stranger. They murder the orphaned.
They say, “The Lord does not see. The God of Jacob pays no heed.”
Take heed, you most brutish people. You fools, when will you grow wise?
Will He who implants the ear not hear? Will He who formed the eye not see?
Will He who disciplines nations – He who teaches man knowledge – not punish?

The Lord knows that the thoughts of man are a mere fleeting breath.
Happy is the man who You discipline, Lord, the one You instruct in Your Torah,
giving him tranquillity in days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake His people, nor abandon His heritage.
Judgment shall again accord with justice, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against wrongdoers?
Had the Lord not been my help, I would soon have dwelt in death’s silence.
When I thought my foot was slipping, Your loving-kindness Lord gave me support.
When I was filled with anxiety, Your consolations soothed my soul.
Can a corrupt throne be allied with You? Can injustice be framed into law?
They join forces against the life of the righteous, and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord is my stronghold, my God is the Rock of my refuge.
He will bring back on them their wickedness, and destroy them for their evil deeds.
The Lord our God will destroy them.

Come let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout aloud to the God of our Salvation.
Let us greet Him with songs of praise.
For the Lord is the great God, the King great above all powers.

Photo credit: Sarah Showalter

PSALM for DAY 3 – Yom Shlishi /Tuesday

May the Psalm of the Day be a blessing to you!

Follow along as Keren recites the Psalm of the Day.

 

Yom Shlishi – Day 3 – Tuesday

PSALM  82

A psalm of Asaph.

God stands in the Divine assembly. Among the judges He delivers judgment.

“How long will man judge unjustly and show favor to the wicked? Selah.
Do justice to the weak and the orphaned. Vindicate the poor and destitute.
Rescue the weak and needy. Save them from the hand of the wicked.

They do not know nor do they understand.
They walk about in darkness while all the earth’s foundations shake.
I once said, “You are like gods, all of you are sons of the Most High.”
But you shall die like mere men, you will fall like any prince.

Arise O Lord, judge the earth; for all the nations are Your possession.

“A judge who delivers a true judgment becomes a partner of the Most Holy One,
blessed be He, in the work of Creation.” (Shabbat 103)

 

PSALM for DAY 2 – Yom Sheni / Monday

May the Psalm of the Day be a blessing to you!

Follow along as Keren recites the Psalm of the Day.

 

Yom Sheni – Day 2 – Monday

PSALM  48

A song. A psalm to the sons of Korach.

Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of God, in His holy montain – beautiful in its heights,the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on its northern side,
the City of the Great King.
In its citadels God is known as a stronghold.
See how the kings joined forces, advancing together.
They saw, they were astounded, they panicked, they fled.
There fear seized them, like the pains of a woman giving birth,
like ships of Tarshish wrecked by an eastern wind.
What we had heard, now we have seen, in the city of the God of hosts,
in the City of our God.
May God preserve it forever, Selah!

In the midst of Your Temple O God, we meditate on Your love.
As is Your Name, God, so is Your praise: it reaches to the end of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
Let Mount Zion rejoice, let the towns of Judah be glad, because of Your judgments.
Walk around Zion and encircle it. Count its towers, note its strong walls, view its citadels,
so that you may tell a future generation that this is God, our God, for ever and ever.
He will guide us forevermore.

Photo credit: Kenneth Berg

 

Victims No Longer

ISRAEL to the World…A message.

After the ghettos and the camps,
The humiliations and the murders,
A decision was made —
To rise from the ashes,
To work and to build,
And to fight if necessary
To be free.
A reborn people
In our reborn Land,
Walking in victory
With G-d’s help,
Victims no longer.

-Keren Hannah


15 PSALMS of ASCENT – pdf download

joy

THE SEASON OF OUR JOY!

Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be akh sameach – altogether joyful.

~ Deuteronomy 16:15

There were 15 steps leading from the Women’s Court in the Temple up to the Court of Israel and the entrance to the Holy Place. The Levitical choir would pause on each step to sing one of the Psalms of Ascent. It’s likely that King David composed these psalms for that very purpose. A daily reading and meditation on each of the 15 Psalms helps to  make the spiritual Ascent from the 1st of the new Hebrew year to the 15th – the joyous celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles!

Download Shir la’Ma’alot, the Psalms of Ascent,  to read on your journey to Joy –
Tishrei 1 (Rosh Hashanah) – Tishrei 15 (Sukkot).

Shir la’Ma’alot – Psalms of Ascent

PSALM for Each Day of the Week DAY 1 – Yom Rishon / Sunday

May the Psalm of the Day be a blessing to you! 

Follow along as Keren recites the Psalm of the Day.

 

Every day, when the Temple of God was standing in Jerusalem, the Levitical choir stood atop the platform located in the Court of the Women, where all public prayer and worship were conducted, and they sang the psalm of praise for that particular day. Every song was orchestrated by King David and had deep significance. The practice has been preserved in Judaism through the centuries and is continued to this day in private prayer and in synagogues.

It is a practice worth pursuing and a special means of helping to commit particular Psalms to memory.

DAILY PSALMS:

1. Sunday – Psalm 24
2. Monday – Psalm 48
3. Tuesday –  Psalm 82
4. Wednesday – Psalm 94
5. Thursday –  Psalm 81
6. Friday – Psalm 93
7. On Shabbat – Psalm 92, a song for the future, a perfected world “the day which is complete Shabbat tranquility,” forever.

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Yom Rishon – Day 1 – Sunday

PSALM  24 

A psalm of David.

The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world and all who live in it.
For He founded it on the seas and established it on the streams.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His Holy Place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who has not taken My Name in vain or sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and just reward from the God of his salvation.
This is a generation of those who seek Him,
the descendants of Jacob who seek Your Presence, Selah

Lift up your heads O gates; be lifted, eternal doors, so that the King of glory may enter.
Who is He the King of Glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.  Selah!

Artwork: Shimon Nachshon – Israel

 

PSALMS of ASCENT – STEP 15 – PSALM 134

HEARTS OF GRATITUDE AND BLESSING

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The fifteen steps have been ascended; hearts have been prepared, and a profusion of joyful praise has welled up, ready to pour forth in worship.

“Come bless the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
That stand by night in the House of the Lord!”

 In the original context of the Temple, as sacrifices could only be brought and offered during daylight hours, the general public would congregate in the Temple courts during the day. After the early evening prayers, when most people returned home, the Levitical priesthood remained behind and, in accord with a set roster, would serve as watchmen on the walls through the night.

After the destruction of the Temple, commentaries compare the “night” to the long, dark night of exile. Although forcibly separated from His chosen Holy Dwelling Place of Zion, the loyal servants of the Lord continued to stand in worship of G-d and to lift up their hands in faith and hope towards the place of His Sanctuary in Jerusalem. Throughout the centuries of exile, and to this very day, Jews who physically live outside of the Land of Israel turn to face Jerusalem when they stand to pray. Thus, day and night, from all corners of the globe, a steady steam of prayer, supplication and thanksgiving is directed towards Zion. In return, the Lord, who hears and answers prayer and who neither slumbers nor sleeps, sends forth His blessings.

 “The Lord will bless you out of Zion; Maker of heaven and earth.”

 Our Creator still pours out His blessing from His holy hill. It is He, Maker of heaven and earth, the Source and giver of life to all things, who even now is at work to fulfill all His promises and the purposes of His Word. He is watching over His Word to perform it and is working out His plan of Redemption for Israel and all the nations from Zion, at the heart of which is His City, Jerusalem.

In the Hebrew verse,  יברכך יהוה מציון  –  Ye’varechekha Adonai mi’Tzion –  The Lord will bless you from Zion, the last letters of the three words form the word כהן – cohen or priest. *1 The chief role of a cohen-priest is to bless the Lord and to extend His blessing upon the people in a particular way. In Jerusalem every Passover, we witness an annual public Birkat Cohanim – Priestly Blessing. Thousands gather to the Western Wall, where hundreds of cohanim, covered in their prayer shawls, raise their hands to recite the Aaronic Benediction over the people.

The well-known and beautiful blessing, of Numbers 6:22-27, is echoed in the structure of this psalm, which is the shortest of the Psalms of Ascent. Both are composed of three lines. The Priestly Blessing places G-d’s Name upon the people and of the 23 words of Psalm 134, five are G-d’s Name YHWH – יהוה. Also, each of the three verses of the Psalm include the word ‘bless’.

In our great High Priest, Yeshua, we too can rise to our calling as priests in the Kingdom of G-d, and with grateful praise and in constant communion with Him, be those who faithfully extend His blessing to others. In this regard, another interesting facet of this last verse is that, in Hebrew, the pronoun “you” is singular. The focus has moved from all Israel to the individual. Then, in the last phrase that refers to the Maker of heaven and earth, we are reminded that the G-d of Israel is indeed the Creator of all and His ultimate will and purpose is to bless all nations and people from His now restored and rebuilt Dwelling Place of Zion.

May His Shalom, as you walk in closer unity with Him, fill your days and guide your steps as you now move forward to take the next step He has perfectly planned for your life.

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~Keren Hannah

 

*1 The Torah Anthology, The Book of Tehilim; 255

PSALMS of ASCENT – STEP 14 – PSALM 133

 BLESSING POURED OUT FROM ON HIGH

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Mount Hermon on Israel’s North Eastern border

The series of the 15 Psalms of Ascents concludes with the two short Psalms of 133 and 134. Both psalms begin with Hinei or Behold, which in Scripture usually is an indication of the sovereign intervention of G-d within a situation. The two are beautiful songs of praise, befitting the arrival of the Levitical musicians and singers at the summit of their ascent to the entrance court of the Holy Place of the Temple in Jerusalem. As such, they gloriously transcend time and space and to this day the songs are raised in joyful praise in many congregations.

The opeining verse of Psalm 133 is one of the Hebrew verses that likely is known by many Christians around the globe: Hinei ma tov u’ma’naim shevet achim gam yachad! It is translated as: ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together [in unity].’ The Hebrew word yachad intimates a united togetherness; a harmonious oneness that is reflected in the word ‘one’ – echad. How good it is when brothers, people, neighbors, who dwell together physically, also can dwell in unity of heart and spirit. Proverbs 27:10 reads, “For better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far off.” This carries a meaning that a good neighbor who is nearby can be of more immediate practical assistance than family who are far away geographically. It can also be understood as a friend who is like-minded or caring of heart is better than a blood relative who is in opposition to you and is distant and uncaring in attitude.

At times it may be preferable, for the sake of peace and to avoid ill-will and competition, if two parties are separated by distance. However, in a good social order, which is in accord with biblical values, every person should show genuine concern for others and should interact openly and honestly. If each one extended care and help where possible to one another in an attitude of loving unity, rather than one of envy, self-aggrandizement and strife, all would benefit and not only would it be tov, “good,” it also would be naim, “pleasant.”

Such truly caring communities are rare in this world of brokenness and selfishness. Here David employs rich imagery of the motion of descent to describe the depth of blessing and joy that true unity engenders; not only to those involved but also to the heart of G-d. The medium of the first is oil – the precious oil of anointing that is poured on the head of Aaron, the High Priest. Oil is smooth and soothing and a symbol of abundance and gladness, as we see in the beautiful verse in isaiah 61:3,

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord,
that He might be glorified.”

The connection with Aaron is fitting in this context, for he became known as Rodef Shalom, the one who pursued peace between brothers. Whenever he became aware of strife between two people he would caringly intervene and do what he could to settle any argument; to put things right and promote unity. This extends to a wider picture of all Israel as the oil trickles down his beard and reaches the collar of his robe. From there it would touch the shoulder straps and the breastplate he wore that carried precious stones engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The stones were united as one and he would carry them over his heart into G-d’s Presence when he performed his service in the Holy Place of the Temple.

The second simile, “…like the dew of Hermon that comes down upon the mountain of Zion,” intimates the downward movement of the precipitation of moisture that is supplied through the provision of G-d.  In the hot, dry climate of Israel, rain and the provision of life-giving water is a great blessing. The origin of blessing is thus from “on High.” Rain, snow and dew collect on Mount Hermon in the north and move down or flow to Mount Zion, which is on the same central mountain range through the heartland of Israel. In Psalm 132 we were reminded that Zion was chosen by G-d as His eternal dwelling place. His desire always is for His House to be a place of Shalom Bayit, of pleasant harmony and unity. And from there His blessings of anointing and life, of joy and refreshing, will flow forth.

In the context of the Temple, this picture brings to mind the ceremonial climax of the Feast of Tabernacles in the Fall. The High Priest would collect water in a golden jug from the Pool of Siloam and in joyful procession bring it up to the Temple. There, he would pour it on the Altar of Sacrifice in gratitude for the blessing of life that came from Above and in trust, at the end of a long, dry summer, for the winter rains to come. Prophetically, we are told by the prophet Zechariah in connection with the Coming Day of the Lord: “Then, everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them.” Again we see the relevance of man’s actions and G-d’s response.

For from there, from Jerusalem in Zion, His chosen and eternal dwelling place; in the good and pleasant unity personified by Aaron and brought to fullness in our great High Priest Yeshua, who constantly intercedes on our behalf before our Father’s Throne of Grace and Mercy on High, He commands the eternal blessing of life forevermore.

HalleluYah!

~ Keren Hannah

PSALMS of ASCENT – STEP 13 – PSALM 132

THE DAVIDIC DYNASTY

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During the years of his reign, King David faced many moments when his kingship and kingdom were threatened. Psalm 132 is a prayer and reminder, as it were, to God and himself, of the immutable bond and covenant between the Almighty, the Davidic line and the capital, Jerusalem. David also stresses the troubles he had undergone and the efforts he had made in seeking the right place for the building of God’s house, the securing of the Ark, and the ammassing of all the materials necessary for building. He anticpates that God will enter His dwelling-place , where he and the people “will prostrate ourselves at His footstool” (verse 7). As glorious as the Temple would be, in regard to the great glory of God, it could only represent His “footstool.” In comparison, the heavens are called, “the throne of the Lord” (Isaiah 66:1).

This is the only psalm that refers directly to the piece of Tabernacle furnishing that symbolized the Shekinah Presence of  God – the Ark of the Covenant (v.8). The text also reflects the journey of the Ark, which first was housed at the village of Ya’arim; here referred to as s’dei Ya’ar, the “fields of Ya’ar” (verse 6). This was situated near the town of Bethlehem Ephrata, the birthplace of King David and of the Messiah of the line of David. Later, as we know from the biblical narrative, the Ark was brought up to Jerusalem by David with great rejoicing and celebration. There it was kept in temporary housing until it  finally was moved to its “resting place” – the innermost Holy of Holies in the Temple built by Solomon.

The reign of the Davidic dynasty lasted 400 years until the destruction of the First Temple. Verse 12 sets a stipulation for the earthly descendants of David in order to retain the kingship: “If your sons will keep My covenantal decree that I teach them, then their sons also, for all time, shall sit upon your throne.” Only David and Solomon ruled over all Israel. Their successors fuctuated in their obedience to God’s commands, not recoginizing Him as the true King over all, and would reign only over the Southern Kingdom of Judah and Benjamin until the country was overtaken by the Graeco-Roman Empire.

In spite of the destruction of the Second Temple and the loss of rulership over the Land, David has the assurance of God that He has chosen Zion and He promises:

“This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it” (verse 14).

He continues to promise that  He would bless with provision all who came to His House and the needy would always have bread. The priests would be clothed with deliverance and the righteous ones filled with songs of praise! This is a refrain of the prayer of Jacob when he stopped to sleep at Mount Moriah on his flight from Esau. He vowed that if  God would “…give me bread to eat and clothing to wear” (Genesis 28:20) and would return him to his Father’s House, which can well  be seen as a prophetic reference to the site of the Temple, “…then the Lord shall be my God.” If God would sustain him and return him to this land of his father Isaac, then he would be assured of the faithfulness and sovereignty of God.

Verse 17 records a beautiful promise of God regarding HIs Dwelling place in Zion:

There I will cause pride [ a horn of provision keren and power, shofar] to sprout for David, for I have prepared a lamp [ a candle ner,  a light of truth, menorah for My anointed [Meshichi, My Messiah].

From David’s line would arise the Messiah, the anointed king of God. The splendor of Messiah will become evident in that very place. Jerusalem, the City of David in Zion, is also the City of the Great King, from whence His glory and might will become evident to all when, as promised in the final verse: “His enemies will I clothe with shame; but upon Him will His crown shine.”

HalleluYah!
~Keren Hannah

Shavuot 1

Artwork: Baruch Nachshon, Israel