Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Psalm for Wednesday: Psalm 94, verse 5
I apologize for the absence of psalm commentaries for the last two days (I am not writing them on Shabbat). As I wrote at the begin, I will try to write these on a daily basis, but there are simply times when this is not possible. Thank you for understanding. SPN
עמך יהוה ידכאו ונחלתך יענו
God, they may crush your people; they may oppress your inheritance.
As in my commentaries on the two preceding verses, "they" refers to the ego and its forces that try to separate us from the Oneness of the universe.
This verse is profound in its very simplicity. It is these forces of the ego that try to get us to think that the I, which is merely an illusion, is more important than the One, which is the true reality. These forces, through their manipulations, can ultimately bring about destruction.
However, it is important to remember that the two verbs, translated here as forms of "crush" and "oppress," are not the future tense as we understand it. In Biblical Hebrew there is no future tense. There is only the imperfect form, which implies that an action MAY take place at a future time, but is in no way stating that it will. Therefore, I have translated the verses to clearly read that the actions MAY occur and not that they WILL.
From the perspecitve of mindfulness teachings, we only have the present moment, past is a dream and future is an illusion. I believe that this is how the psalmist, at least in this case, also understands the world. They are not predicting nor stating with certainty what will occur. They are simply implying what might happen should the wicked ones continue prevail. This crushing and oppression are the potential results should we allow the forces of the ego to prevail.
These forces have the ability not merely to injur, but to spiritually crush all of God's people, which means all people. Indeed, all of God's world. The ego, in setting the individual above all else, ultimately brings about the downfall of that person, but not without wreaking havoc on others around them as well.
But more than that, these forces "oppress God's inheritance." Using a verb ענה, which has also been used to describe slavery, the psalm reminds us that the ego can enslave. From that place of enslavement we become a people oppressed and a people that oppresses others. In allowing this to happen we are indeed oppressing or afflicting God's inheritance. For all of us, all of the world, is the inheritance of God.
We are from and of God and our souls also will ultimately be "inherited" by God when our body departs this world. If we allow the forces of the ego to prevail, then God receives a damaged, oppressed soul. But more than that, we must live with that damaged, oppressed soul prior to our death.
However, we must remember that the verse is not predicting any of this with certainty. Rather, it is reminding us of what may happen if we allow it to happen.
May we work together to see that this does not occur and that the ego does not prevail. May we do this for the sake of the One of all Creation, the Source of All Life and the good of our world.
Posted by Rabbi Steven Nathan at 12:55 AM
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