Monday, May 3, 2010
Psalm for Monday: Psalm 48, Verse 2
Great is the Eternal, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, God's holy mountain.
Here the pslamist is praising God in the city of "our God, God's holy mountain." The city referred to here is Jerusalem. The mountain, it would seem, is Mount Zion/Mount Moriah, in the "center" of ancient Jerusalem where Abraham is said to have bound Isaac and where the Temple was built by Solomon.
I would like to look at this psalm as referring not to the physical Jerusalem, over which wars have been fought for generations up until this very day. Rather, I see it as referring to the "heavenly Jerusalem." According to an ancient tradition, expounded upon in the Kabbalah/ mystical tradition, there is a heavenly Jerusalem that is linked to the earthly Jerusalem. In certain Kabbalistic texts, the heavenly Jerusalem is seen as the dwelling place of the Shekhinah, or indwelling Divine presence. The Shekhinah is also viewed as the feminine aspect of God and the aspect of God with which human beings have the most direct and intimate contact (sorry for the oversimplification here, but this is meant to be a brief blog and this is a complex topic).
The heavenly Jerusalem is devoid of politics. It is not a geographical location. It is simply the place where the Shekhinah dwells. In that place it is easy to praise God's greatness, because it is beyond the turmoil and confusion of the physical world. In that realm, God is truly "our God". Not the God of the Jews, but the God of all humanity.
Looking at it through this lense, the psalm says to me that wherever one is at any given moment moment, if we are truly present and seeking connection with the Divine, then we connect ourselves on spiritual level with the Jerusalem above. Our actual geographical location is of no matter. We can attach ourselves to the place where God is everyone's God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, anywhere. When we do this we are transported to a spiritual realm of eternal peace and no politics, no divisions between human beings. When we are able to connect with God that way, then we can truly sing the praise of God and be aware of the greatness of the Divine. The greatness that flows through and connects all of us and all of the universe. Then our task is to take this spiritual experience and bring it back with us into the everyday physical world.
Posted by Rabbi Steven Nathan at 8:27 AM
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