Monday, April 26, 2010
Psalm for Monday: Psalm 48, vs. 1
1. A Song; a Psalm of the sons of Korah
Normally, if a psalm begins "A Psalm of ...." I would simply add vs. 2 and comment on both. However, the phrase "a psalm of the sons of Korah" struck me. 13 of the 150 psalms are attributed to b'nei Korah . How strange, since Korah was the cousin of Moses, from the tribe of Levi, who led a brief rebellion against Moses and was swallowed up by the earth as a consequence. How is it that his descendants became not only sacred musicians, as were all the Levites, but sacred composers as well?
As Rabbi Perry Netter points out in his commentary on the Torah portion of Korah, "The sons embraced the claim of the father that they were indeed holy, and they wrote holy words. His sons became poets; they wrote Psalms...Korach is the symbol of rebellion and conflict and despair; his sons are a symbol of hope."
The sons who wrote the psalm lived generations after their namesake. The fact that they were still very much a part of the priestly Levite tribe reminds us that the sins of the parents are not visited upon the children (or at least not for long) in the Biblical tradition. Yet, how many of us carry the "sins" of our parents within us, and even to the next generation, because we are unwilling to let go. Each of our parents have acted in ways that have angered us. Perhaps more frequently than we would have liked. And those of us who are parents have angered or hurt our own children more times than we would probably like to admit. We have made mistakes, sometimes serious ones. I know I have.
And yet, as mindfulness teaches, we must live in the present moment and not in the past. Yes, we must seek for giveness for wrongs we have committed, but it also our obligation to accept the amends made by parents or other who have hurt us. If they do not acknowledge that they have done wrong, or not sought to apologize, then we owe it to ourselves to forgive them or at least, to let go of the anger that will simply continue to gnaw at us.
Korah believed he was at least as holy, if not holier, than his cousin Moses and so he deserved the mantle of leadership as much as his cousin. His hubris and ego brought violence and destruction to himself and the community. The sons of Korah believed that they were holy for we all are holy, we are all a part of the divine. And so they provided song, joy and comfort to the community and to themselves. Hence they are, as Rabbi Netter wrote, a "symbol of hope." Not the hope for things of the future that we can know nothing about in this moment. But hope simply as a recognition that life continues from moment to moment. Hope and belief that divinity can be found in each person and in each moment. Hope that comes from letting go of past hurts and living in the presence. Hope that makes us want to sing!
Posted by Rabbi Steven Nathan at 11:16 AM
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