“I do not aspire to great things.” (131:1)
I’ll give Shakespeare two out of three for “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” (Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 5). I don’t think people are born to greatness, but I do agree that some people aspire to greatness and achieve their dream; and others have unsought greatness thrust upon them. There is nothing wrong with people aspiring to greatness as long as they are prepared to live a full and meaningful life even if their dreams fail. Those like the Psalmist who do not aspire to great things nonetheless should aspire to make a difference through their lives. They should understand that they do not need to be great to be important.
“Yours is the power to forgive.” (130:4)
You control one of the greatest superpowers, the power to forgive. Be not stingy nor overly generous with forgiveness. Forgiving too quickly missed the opportunity help the other person appreciate how hurtful his or her actions were, and learn how to repair the damage. Withholding forgiveness is more damaging to you than the other person, because it keeps your hurt alive while the other person has moved on. You have the superpower of forgiveness. When used wisely, you can profoundly change both your life and the other’s.
“Greatly have they oppressed me since my youth.” (129:1)
Anti-Semitism is a real phenomenon, even in the free and open society of the United States. However, it is important to be able to distinguish degrees of anti-semitism. Seventy years ago (and more), Jews were restricted in where they could live, where they could golf, what country club they could join, and where they could go to school, in addition to common incidents of physical intimidation. Forty years ago, bullying was not uncommon in school, although it was mostly verbal or mildly physical, but Jews were mostly free of other restrictions. Twenty years ago, schools began taking a hard stance against bullying of any form. Be aware and defend yourself, but know that there has never been a better time to be Jew in the world.
“May you see your children’s children.” (128:6)
Leaving aside the rich and deep Jewish conception of the eternal soul, life in heaven, and the resurrection of the messianic era, what many of us want is to see our legacy in our lifetime in the form of children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, if we are blessed with longevity. However, just as we learned, while raising children, not to expect that they will be carbon copies of ourselves, we need to remember that our grandchildren might not have the same interests and passions for business, community support, and institutions as we do. We can only hope to be blessed to see our genetic legacy and that they perpetuate our basic values for their grandchildren.
“Eaters of the bread of anxiety …” (127:2)
Without a doubt, it is true that sometimes things go horribly wrong. Most of the time, however, things sorts themselves out and come out right in the end. People who suffer from unreasonable anxiety, however, obsessively search out and find reasons to be anxious, they consume anxiety the way a person with an eating disorder consumes calories. The solution to calm nervousness and panic is generally not self-control alone. Patterns of behavior, when eating disorders or panic disorders, at the very least require the hard work of unlearning deeply rooted patterns of behavior.