Wednesday, 28 July 2021
Thursday is known in Hebrew as Yom HaChamishi, meaning "the fifth day." Every day has a "Psalm of the Day" and the one for Thursday is Psalm 81. Psalm 81 has 17 verses, and I don't feel like rushing through them. Our week builds towards Shabbat. Friday has the honor of touching Shabbat on the front end. Thursday is next to Friday, so you might expect there is something in the Psalm of Thursday that points to Shabbat rest. And it does.
Psalm 81 starts with a series of five sudden commands to worshippers:
Psalm 81:1 For the music director, on the Gittite lyre, of Asaph.
2 (1) Sing for joy to God our strength, (2) shout to the God of Jacob!
3 (3) Lift up a song and (4) sound a tambourine, a sweet lyre with a harp.
4 (5) Blow the shofar at the New Moon, at the full moon for the day of our festival.
5 (6) For it is a decree for Israel, an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
These five commands are a call to an attitude of praise, worship and thanksgiving to God.
The first command is "sing." The Hebrew word used means so much more. It is Har'niynu from "Ranan" which means to be so overcome with joy that you can't contain your shout for joy. It is plural and imperative. It is a command for us all to be so overwhelmed with gladness that we cannot contain our shout of praise. We are not just singing, we are bursting with an expression of our gladness to the God of our strength.
The next command is to shout. This is the same shout in Hebrew that caused the walls of Jericho to tumble in Joshua 6:5b "... have all the people shout a loud shout - then the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up, everyone straight ahead." This is the same Shoresh as the Shofar sounding command Teruah. As Teruah, it is 3 medium blasts that are a command to rally to our banner and fight as a fighting unit.
Again, this shout is also to God, this time to the "God of Jacob." The "God of Jacob" is the "God of the overcomer." Jacob was the one who wrestled with God and prevailed. Not that he beat God in wrestling (no one could do that), but that he would not let go of God until he received his blessing. May we have the strength to shout praises to God until we receive our blessing.
I'll pick up here next time.
Rabbi Michael Weiner,