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Monday, May 10, 2010

Psalm for Monday: Psalm 48, verse 3

(please note that most Christian Bibles list this as verse 2)

Beautiful in elevation is the joy of all the earth; Mount Zion, on the sides of the  north, is the city of the great Sovereign.

In my comments on verse 3 last week I viewed the point of reference of this psalm as the "Jerusalem above," the mythic heavenly Jerusalem where there are no politics and no boundaries.  As I wrote week: "wherever one is at any given moment, if we are truly present and seeking connection with the Divine, then we connect ourselves on spiritual level with the Jerusalem above."

Verse 3 simply states that it is the elevation of the  higher Jerusalem that is the source of its beauty.  If in my reading the psalm is referring to the Jerusalem above, then the elevation of which the psalmist wrote is its spiritual elevation. That the heavenly Jerusalem knows of no distinctions between racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender or other identities is, in part, what makes it beautiful and what makes it holy.
In our physical world these distinctions are what cause separations between human beings, as well as between human beings and the Divine.   I am not saying that we should ignore these distinctions in our world.  On the contrary, we must acknowledge and celebrate our various differences.  But we must be careful not to allow them to serve as reasons to separate from others and from the Divine. Too often, that is the what happens in the earthly Jerusalem, not to mention everywhere else in the world. 

In thinking about Jerusalem, I remembered that in Biblical times the city was  referred to as  ir shalem עיר שלם, the city of completeness, or ir shalom עיר שלום, the city of peace .  The Jerusalem above is the joy of all the worlds (not just this world) because it's essence is completeness.  It is this completeness, the unity and not the separation of all, that is the source of its peace and the source of its holiness.

Mount Zion, is viewed in ancient Jewish tradition as the center point  of the earth; it is the point where creation mytholigically began.  That is why it is at the heart of the earthly Jerusalem.  But this is also the point where the earthly and heavenly Jerusalem connect.  It is as if there is a spiritual umbilical cord attached to Mt. Zion that links the two worlds to each other.  Indeed, there are places where Mt. Zion is referred to as the "navel of the world," a phrase and concept that appears in many ancient cultures.  

In psalm 48 Mount Zion is also described as being "in the north," which is its physical location in the land.  However, Hebrew word for north tzafon/צפון is from the same root as the word for hidden tzafun/צפון.  Actually, as you can see, without vowels (which is how the Torah is written) the two words look identical.  This connection between the two words should remind us that the place that connects us with our heavenly source, with the oneness and unity of the Divine, is indeed often hidden.  Yet it does exist within each of us. It is within the soul, the piece of God within us. When we pay attention and listen to the voice of our soul, we will find that place of connection hidden within. In each moment when this occurs we are then able to enter the 'city of the Divine' in a spiritual sense.

Our goal in each moment is to be mindful and pay attention to our own spiritual self so that we can find the hidden place within.  That hidden place will enable us to enter that realm where there are no separations or divisions, where there is only unity.  Then the challenge is to bring that sense of oneness and unity back to the world in which we all live and to make it a reality here as well.



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