Psalm 32

Many are the torments of the wicked, but one who trusts in Adonai shall be surrounded with favor. (32:10)

Why do Jews ask me if Jews believe in Hell? Do they not know what they believe in? It seems clear that if they believed in Hell, they would not need to ask me – they would know that they, full fledged dues paying members of the Jewish community, believe in Hell and therefore Jews believe in Hell. They do not believe in Hell, and are asking me if Jews other than themselves, any other Jews, believe in Hell. Are they afraid that their non-belief might jeopardize the quality of their Jewishness? If I tell them that certainly Jews believe in Hell, would they suddenly change their minds and begin believing?

In fact, I don’t think that this Psalmist believes in Hell. It is far more likely that his theology assured him that goodness and evil carry their own rewards and punishments in this world, not in a future world.

The evil that you do will come back at you. It will torment you. It will catch up to you. it will turn you into a frightened, suspicious, bitter, dried up soul. On the other hand, the good things that you do will keep you fresh and vibrant. You will smile and others will return the favor. You will see the good in people, as they will see the kindness in you.

I believe in Heaven and in Hell, although I don’t really know what heaven and hell means or what it looks or feels like. I also believe that you make yourself into the kind of person you want to be, and you see yourself and your attributes reflected around you. When I am happy, I see the blessings and favors around me; when I am unhappy, I see the curses and burdens around me. I am happier when I am happy, so therefore I choose to be happy.

One thought on “Psalm 32

  1. Excellent. Positive. It is impossible for the human heart to contain both discontent and happiness at the same moment, so I choose happiness.


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