Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Psalm for Tuesday: Psalm 82, Verse 4
Rescue the poor and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked
In this verse, the psalmist continues to call on God to deliver those who are oppressed and in need. Strong's Biblical concordance translates the root of the first verb used פלט as "rescue." The second verb, הציל, is translated as deliver.
Rescue is a verb that is often associated with human action. However, deliverance is usually associated with the Divine.This then points to the Divine-human partnership that enables those who are poor and needy to become free. This refers not only to the poor and needy in the world, which we must all work to free from oppression, but to the poor and needy parts of ourselves.
With the help of the Divine energy that flows through us, we can release and redeem those parts of us that feel poor and needy. We can release the negative images of ourselves and the negative messages that we have perhaps received from others and assimilated within us. But we cannot do this without the help of a Higher Power, however we choose to define that. But our Higher Power also cannot act unless we also let Her/Him/It/They into our lives.
We must work to bring about the rescue and the deliverance of all those parts of ourselves that keep us from seeing who we truly are and also keep us separated from God and others.
In the verse we also find the word מיד, literally "from the hand". And so the translation reads "from the hand of the wicked." I read this as meaning from the hand of the forces within each of us that seek to oppress and separate us. The forces of "evil" are not just out there, they are within us as well. And they grab a hold of our soul and try to keep us from living. This is the job of the ego, of our "evil impulses" (to use a traditional rabbinic phrase) that wants us to only worry about ourselves and to ignore the rest of the world and God.
So we must work together with our Higher Power to be released from the grasp of the ego. But מיד can also mean "suddenly", especially in modern Hebrew. And so we must do the work that we need to do now, suddenly, in every moment. It is an ongoing process in which we must participate whenever we feel the forces of oppression trying to take root within. That is how we can free ourselves. For only by remaining free ourselves can we work with all our heart and soul to free all the others who are needy and oppressed in our world.
Posted by Rabbi Steven Nathan at 5:47 PM
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