Come on, be truthful now, we have all been there and yes we are all foolish. You find yourself arguing with some of the people you love most about who knows what, and the more you go on the angrier you get. You find yourself fuming with righteous indignation, you are right this time, and you don’t intend to let anyone forget it. The room spins before your eyes, you are so angry. How could they? Who do they think they are?
Now before everyone rustles his papers in shock, please, let’s be honest with ourselves. Sure the script may be different but the intent is the same.
A poet once wrote, “People make up, to break up, and start in again.” It is as if it is part of our human condition, we get things wrong, and become entrenched in our views. Our anger becomes a barrier that creates our own isolation. We seem never able to forgive others for the same weaknesses we carry in our own selves, and therefore we create a cloud of anger in our soul. So, what to do, where to go, it can’t be right, yet we fall into the same pattern time and again.
Hashem has given us the perfect example of how to create a proper understanding with others; it is called by a quaint word, forgiveness.
Think of it for a moment, this is an astounding concept. The entirety of sefer Shemos is full of the Jewish nation’s refusal to behave! Every act of goodness is repaid by our befuddled refusal to be thankful. Time and again we fall, and wonder of wonders, each time Hashem picks us up with His forgiveness. The audacity of this nation, we sin in such ways, and then plead for forgiveness. We do so because of something Hashem has let us know, and that is that He will forgive us, despite our waywardness.
The Torah tells us tales of this forgiveness for a purpose; so that we can see Hashem’s unlimited capacity to love us. This is shown by His giving us new chances time after time. However, there is much more going on here, He tells us all of this in His Torah so that we can understand how we are meant to live. Gutte Yidden have told us time and again that we are meant to live as an image of Hashem in this material world.
How does Hashem act? He forgives. How should we behave? We should forgive as well. When we become himmeldige Yidden here on earth, then we create a place of heavenly sweetness amidst all the crassness of this material realm. Holiness must start somewhere, and that starting room should be the ability to be generous to others, not only with a checkbook, but in our daily lives as well. We feel we are in the right, others have sinned against us, yet, we forgive and join the ranks of true Yidden.
Pundits say that one never argues about what they argue about, rather, it is always about something else, something often left unsaid. The fury, the angst, it is usually about our wounded ego, and has nothing to do with what is right or wrong. Hashem gives us these moments so as to give us the opportunity to rise above the crassness, and take a first step towards true Yiddishkeit.
In this kapitel we see Hashem’s greatness being extolled, how He has done so very much for us, how in fact we cannot even begin to describe all of His goodness.
Halleluka, Hodu LaHashem … “Praise G-d. Give thanks to Hashem, for He is good, for His kindness is ever lasting.”
There are many things we describe as good, yet, there is but one true goodness, and that is Hashem. His kindness is not transient; it is for all eternity for He exists beyond all time and place.
Mi Yemalel Gevuros … “Who can recount the mighty acts of Hashem, or make heard His praise?”
Hashem’s works are beyond all description, there is nothing or anyone who can even begin to recount all His Wonders. In fact the Rebbe Reb Levi Yitzchsk of Berditchov once asked, “How dare we even begin to praise Hashem. Is there any human that can even begin to understand His greatness?” He answered his own question with an observation. A mortal King would not reckon with praise from a peasant, but he would from a high-ranking official or another monarch. However, before Hashem, a peasant and a monarch are equal. Inasmuch as Hashem is infinite, there is no concept of greater or lesser relative to His infinity. Even the heavenly angels are not greater than the least human being relative to the infinity of Hashem. Therefore, if angels are permitted to praise Hashem, then so are we mortals. All this goes some way in describing how immense Hashem is.
Lir’os Betovas Bechirecha … “To behold the good fortune of Your chosen, to rejoice in the rejoicing of Your nation, to glory with Your inheritance.”
We have so much to be happy about. We are His chosen nation, and He has seen fit to tell us this. We have been given a path that brings us closer to His essence, and have be granted teachers who can lead us on this path.
Chatanu Im Avoseinu … “We have sinned with our fathers; we have committed iniquity, and wickedness.”
All this kindness, and we have sinned; it is beyond understanding.
Avoseinu VeMitrayim … “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders, they did not remember the multitude of Your kindnesses; but they rebelled at the sea, at the Sea of Reeds.”
The heavens opened for them, the Finger of Hashem could be seen sweeping through the land of their tormentors, yet, they rebelled. It is beyond belief, yet it is what human folly leads to.
Vayoshi’eim Lema’an Shemo … “And he delivered them for His name’s sake, to make known His mighty power.” “And he rebuked the Sea of Reeds and it dried up, and He led them through the depths as though a wilderness.”
Vayoshi’eim Miyad Sonei … “And He delivered them from the hand of the enemy; And He redeemed them from the hand of the foe.”
Vayechasu Mayim … “And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them remained.”
Listen to what we say here. Hashem repaid our rebelliousness with such kindness. He let us walk through the bitterness of the seas, as if we were walking in a park, not only this, but the enemies who had hounded us were buried without a trace. Gevaldig … Hashem turns us from our rebelliousness and showers us with kindnesses.
It is takeh true, mere man cannot even begin to understand such richness of spirit. The kapitel goes on to describe all the various acts of foolhardy rebellion our forefathers have committed. It tells of all the times Hashem was reviled by our own words, our very acts of mutiny.
Yet again and again:
Pe’amim Rabos Yatzileim … “Many times did He rescue them, yet they were rebellious in their council, and they were brought low by their iniquity.”
We are the authors of our own misfortune. Hashem is a loving Father, yet we go on in our headstrong plunge into the darkness. This is true with our daily lives as well. Our relationship with those around us is a microcosm of our connection to Hashem. We batter our heads against the walls of misunderstanding only because we cannot accept the need to forgive. Hashem reaches out to us with His forgiveness and we should grasp it by forgiving those we live with.
Vayizkor Lahem Beriso … “And he remembered His covenant with them, and he relented in accordance with His multitude of kindness.”
And here the kapitel ends, and with it the fourth book of Tehillim:
Baruch Hashem Elokei Yisrael … “Blessed is Hashem, G-d of Israel, from this world to the world to come, and let all the people say amen, praise Hashem.'”
We can say amen with our acts of understanding, and it will be with these that all mankind will be redeemed.