Carnegie Shul Chatter – February 13, 2014

Shabbat Shalom

Candle lighting time is 5:36

Our Shabbos services are full of Psalms.  In the  Morning Service for Sabbath and Festivals we find Psalms 30, 19, 34, 90, 91, 135, 136, 33, 92, 93, 145 (Ashrei), 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 145 again, and 29.  Musaf includes Psalm 92, the Psalm for the Sabbath day.

So what exactly are these Psalms?  Well the dictionary definition of a psalm is:

1. a sacred song or hymn.
2.any of the songs, hymns, or prayers contained in the Book of Psalms.

The Book of Psalms consists of 150 psalms, many of which were written by King David.  Although the authorship of all of the psalms is not universally agreed upon by all of the experts, the consensus is that between 70  and 80 psalms were Psalms or Songs of David.

One psalm that is not included in our services is Psalm 1.  It is a psalm of contrast between good and evil.  I particularly like the last line of the psalm, “For the Lord regardeth the way of the righteous; but the way of the wicked shall perish.”

Psalm 1

Happy is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that bringeth forth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf doth not wither; and in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper.
Not so the wicked; but they are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Therefore the wicked shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord regardeth the way of the righteous; but the way of the wicked shall perish.

Another psalm that we all know is the 23rd Psalm.  It is also not said at services and is often used at funerals, but its words are, to me, a powerful affirmation of God being with us at all times, so I do not see any need to reserve it for funerals.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;

He leadeth me beside the still waters;

He restoreth my soul;

He guideth me in straight paths for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil,

For Thou art with me.

Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;

Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

And how about this?  Can you identify the psalm from which it was taken?

Even when God seemed to have abandoned me, he was watching

Even when he seemed indifferent to my suffering, he was watching

And when I was beyond all hope of saving, he gave me rest

Then he gave me a sign to continue my journey

Well, it is not from any psalm at all.  It is a from the book and movie The Life of Pi.  Sounds like a psalm, though, doesn’t it?



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3 Responses to Carnegie Shul Chatter – February 13, 2014

  1. harry zemon

    how did you like “sunny” Florida this year? This has been a really freak year weather wise. All that was missing was snow!!!

  2. Ellen Roteman

    I was once at a non-Jewish funeral, and the clergyman recited the 23rd psalm. A Jewish person sitting next to me turned and said, “Why don’t we have anything this beautiful in Judaism?” It’s very sad that so many Jewish people don’t have basic literacy about our traditions and scripture — and I want to thank Mike for researching and writing this blog each week and enlightening us.

  3. michael

    Florida is great. Much better weather than Pittsburgh, but I miss minyan at the Carnegie Shul

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