Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Psalm for Tuesday: Psalm 82, verse 6
אני אמרתי אלהים אתם ובני עליון כלכם
I said that you are gods; all of you are children of the Most High.
My commentary on Verse 5 concluded: "When we acknowledge the reality of Oneness...we know that [even] in those moments of uncertainty, we will not be stumbling in the dark. Instead, we will know that we are supported in those moments. The Divine, as made manifest in our fellow human beings, will be there to guide and support us at every turn."
When we acknowledge the Oneness of the universe and live our lives free from the forces of the ego and the self, in that moment we are not only beings created in God's image, but we are as gods! This concept would sound heretical were it not taken directly from the psalm.
The psalmist could have written that we were "like gods" or "in God's image", but the Hebrew clearly states אלהים אתם - elohim atem "you are gods." The word for gods אלהים elohim is usually simply translated as "God." However, there are instances in the psalms and elsewhere in the Bible where the word, which is actually written in a plural form, is used to denote "other gods" (of the other nations) as compared to the One God.
There are also times when it has been translated as "divine beings", but I believe that is because translators have been afraid to acknowledge that on some level our Biblical ancestors may have still believe that there were "other gods", even though our God was THE God. Even if that is not the case, the word still refers to the fact that other nations believed in other Gods, even if we didn't. But in this psalm, we do believe in other gods; these gods are each of us, when we live up to our potential and live life as part of the Oneness of the Universe.
In reality, this is not heresy at all. For what the verse says is that, when we acknowledge that we are part of God and that God is a part of us, then we are gods ourselves. We are not God per se. However, just as the soul is the part of God within us, or that within that connects us to the One, so too each of us becomes a part of God (a god, intentionally with a lower case g) within humanity and that which connects the world to its Divine essence. It is then as is if each of us is the soul of the universe or of humanity.
This is an awesome responsibility, as well as a blessing and a privilege. It is also something that reminds us that we are indeed "children of the Most High." This refers not only to the idea that God is "higher" than all else, but that we become children of our highest potential as human beings. We reach the pinnacle of existence at the moment when we feel and act as part of the One. But rather than causing us to think that we are better or separate from all else, as the ego wants us to believe, we are most aware at these moments that we are part of everyone and everything else and that they are a part of us.
This is the true blessing of being children of the Most High. This is the true blessing of being, as it were, gods walking through life bringing goodness, blessing, compassion and joy to the our universe.
Posted by Rabbi Steven Nathan at 12:01 AM
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