Rabbi Jack Moline, in my opinion one of North America’s wisest rabbis, once shared that when he writes a sermon or a d’var Torah, his first intended audience is himself, so that when he listens to himself delivering it, he’ll learn something that he needs to learn. If anyone else listens and learns from it as well, so much the better.
Well, having completed almost three months of Psalm blogging, that’s about how I’m feeling. A systematic consideration of Psalms is helping me think through some issues that come before me, but I’m wondering how many others find it useful. A blog is a conversation – I invite you to share your thoughts on what I write each week. If you are so inclined, please go to embodiedtorah.wordpress.com and leave me a note or a reflection on the week’s Psalm.
“When the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous man do?” (11:3)
We live our lives based on a set of core assumption and beliefs about the world. Most of the time we don’t question or explore those basic principles, and in fact we might not even know what they are. Now and then, however, something happens to make us notice one of our foundational beliefs and either reject it, modify it, or conform to it.
Our core belief might be that if I treat other people right, I will always be treated well. This principle is shaken when we find ourself being mistreated for no apparent reason, perhaps by people we don’t even know! We might conclude that we should reject the core belief, and from that point on not care about how we treat others. Preferably, we will decide to modify the core belief and conclude that regardless of how others treat me, I am going to treat people well.
Another core belief might be that Judaism directs me to care for the environment and all who live in it, both human and animal. This principle is tested when I learn more about food production and the damage done to the environment by pesticides and the raising of animals for food. I might commit myself to conform to my principle and change my diet; or I might decide that other principles of Jewish eating allow me to lesson my commitment to this core value as long as I hold onto other principles of kashrut.
In order to live a life of righteousness, it is important to examine, preserve, maintain and live by one’s foundational principles.