“Halleluyah, Hallelu.” (150:1)
One year.150 mini-reflections on Psalms. Goal accomplished.
A good goal is one which you need to stretch a bit to achieve, but it has to be within reach. A goal to eat at least one meal a day is not very useful for most people, because typical, healthy, individuals can achieve it without any effort. Setting a goal for my 5’ 6”, over fifty year old body to play in a Super Bowl is not useful, because this goal is simply not achievable.
When you accomplish the task that you’ve set before you and learned something in the process, you should feel good and celebrate. And so the Psalmist concludes his work with the refrain of Halleluyah, Thank God!
“Let them sing happily upon their couches.” (149:5)
I remember when my children were very young and would lie in their cribs or beds late at night or early in the morning, happily babbling to themselves. They would read or recite a book, sing songs or prayers, or just make adorable noises. But all reached a stage when they could lie in their bed before falling asleep or wake up in the morning by themselves and keep themselves happy with music or words. They, and we, haven’t changed much. They still hum or sing or talk out loud, as do we all. It helps us organize ourselves, rid ourselves of anxiety, or express joy.
“He commanded and they were created.” (148:5)
What power this is, the power to express a desire and know that people will make it happen! This is a power I associate with the very rich or the very rich and powerful CEO who can afford to hire people to take care of every expressed wish. It is a god-like power, one that may seduce the user with delusions of divinity. I am far more impressed by the rich and powerful who have the humility to do things for themselves and others, than I am of seeing them pass the tasks off to their minions.
“He counts the number of the stars; He names them all.” (147:4)
Dale Carnegie said, ““A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” To be able to recall a name and use it in conversation, to greet a person by name, to remember names of people we meet, are signs of caring at a deep level. Jewish tradition discourages us from counting people, thinking, perhaps, that to count them is to assign them an impersonal number rather than acknowledging their uniqueness with a name.
“Put not your trust in the noble.” (146:3)
It is hard to avoid the trap of celebrity worship. There is something electric about being in the company of the influential, the powerful, and the famous. When we are in the company of politicians, actors, entertainers, or the uber-wealthy, we can be overwhelmed by the aura of their physical presence. They have talents and abilities and the power to get things done over and above that of the average mortal. Yet they also have outstanding moral faults and failures, just like every other human being. So value them for their abilities, but worship them not!