The day that will live in infamy.
My father was a military man, through and through. Career Navy he was. From a long line of American warriors, all the way back to the Revolution. He married my mother on 9/11. His first son was born on D-Day, the next on VJ-day, and myself on Pearl Harbor Day.
That’s always been a shadow of a thought on my birthday, especially after realizing my parent’s anniversary related to the little phenomenon.
Anyone who walks in true “Emunah” in Messiah Yeshua knows that His people are a ‘warring’ people, in the realm of His Ru’akh. Last week, my drash [teaching message] in the Synagogue was about the “Matzliakh”, the ‘prosperous’ man. One who ‘succeeds’ in this life, spiritually. If I’m not mistaken, Yosef was the first one in scripture called a matzliakh; and he was a servant, a slave, when he was so called.
But, as Friday was the anniversary of my birth, I prayed that day, as I do each day, for all I know, especially those whom I hold dear, to have ‘shalom’ each day..
My birthday started very, very special. I woke up, and read a second email concerning someone who had been studying our congregation’s website, http://www.battzion.org , and had come to repentance. My last post was about the JOY in HEAVEN concerning ONE SOUL doing Teshuvah, so much so that the Malakhim REJOICE in HIGH PRAISES….. FOR ONE SOUL! So, when I read that second email, and learned that the person who had repented, whose name is in our Torah portion this week!, is going to come to the synagogue this Shabbat, then I ‘heard’ the echo of that rejoicing in Heaven…. it sunk in. [the first email had came in thur night, after my family and I began celebrating my birthday.. with cake…can’t help it, biblical days start at night! and I’d briefly read it, but it didn’t sink in; then another came in through the night].
I cannot express how much joy that brought me, considering all the labor we put into the website, into the congregation, investing in people’s souls, versus the number of times people actually do ‘return to G-d in obedience to His Instructions’ [biblical repentance]. when I wrote that last blog post, I asked G-d for that experience again, that deep joy of knowing His Malkhut is truly advancing because of our efforts. Et voila.
Friday, I decided to drive to work, versus riding the bus, because I took a half day off. My jam came on when I got in the car, but it was my whole playlist. I wanted to focus on worshipping and thanking Him, so I switched it just to play Miqedem’s last album. I’ve noticed this before, about that album. But I’ve only shared this with my wifey. I don’t know if Jamie and the rest of Miqedem intended this, but it has certainly caught my attention, what I am about to try to explain:
Friday morning, when I switched it over, I set it to play the album, Volume II, in order, and not to shuffle, because it’s been a while since I just listened to the album straight through. I finished listening to it this morning, and remembered this compelling theme I will try to explain here, starting with the first song, to the last, in order.
“Khanun V’Rakhum’ is the first song, “Gracious and Merciful”. That is the last phrase in the 4th verse of the psalm…. The music starts with a very distinct Hebrew, Middle-Eastern sound, very upbeat, and the first words are “I will thank יהוה “…. [I say/sing His Name… I hope Miqedem can forgive me, as I simply cannot edit His Word when reading/singing it, nor blot out His Name as quoted in scripture with another word]. The first verse of this song is actually the first four verses of Psalm 111. I have the great pleasure of understanding them in Hebrew…. and this phrase, “Khanun v’Rakhum’, is an echo of Moshe’s encounter with G-d that so few people consider, when He said, יהוה יהוה El RAKHUM V’KHANUN…. Merciful and GRACIOUS G-d… this is ‘old testament’, and is describing יהוה as MERCIFUL and GRACIOUS…. the whole description there flies in the face of the xtian idea that the ‘god of the old testament’ was a ‘hateful, mean/angry god.’ Those first verses of 111 expound on His works of mercy and grace as WONDERFUL. Then, the second verse of the song, from Ps 112, tells of the works of a Tzadik, a Righteous One. This is a foreshadowing of Messiah, but also describes one who actually trusts in obedience, delighting in the Mitzvot of G-d. This echoes the fb post I made yesterday, asserting that we, as believers, should strive to be like G-d! Khanun V’Rakhum V’Tzadik, echoing Khanun V’Rakhum יהוה ! Ultimately, it is HIM whom we emulate.
I won’t have time to detail each of the psalms on this album. But, I pray the psalms every Shabbat in the Synagogue during our prayer hour, with a numerical pattern that gets me through all 150 of them about 5 times in a year. And this pattern is in such a way that I sample each type of Psalm [praise, ascent, imprecatory, etc] each Shabbat. And each week, I think about how this mimics the life and experience of believers.
The Tehillim [praises/psalms] are Tefilot [prayers] and SONGS. And they are FULL of EMOTION. ALL emotions. Happiness, sadness, sorrow, pain, rejoicing, anger, bitterness, hurt, the list goes on. They run the whole gambit of the human experience. And so do my Shabbat morning prayers. And so does Miqedem Volume II. They sampled almost every type of Tehillah. This one starts very upbeat, rejoicing and thanking G-d for His MERCY AND GRACE, the way a believer starts his life of faith, and the way he SHOULD start EVERY DAY!
It is followed with B’tzet Yisra’el, ‘When Yisra’el Went out of Mitzrayim’, which is a mini Pesakh Psalm, a recalling of the MIGHT of Elohim, who delivered Yisra’el and brought them into The Land. The psalmist almost seems to mock the natural barriers to Yisra’el’s ‘going out,’ reminding us that He Goes BEFORE us, IN MIGHT. This, too, ought to be a theme of our minds as we begin our days.
The next is Ba’erev Yelin, and has been my favorite for a while, though I think it got edged out of late. But, the tone changes, becoming very mellow. This one is a KHANUKAH song! It is the “Dedication of the House,” or “Khanukat HaBayit.” Nothing causes a believer in Messiah more sorrow than for the ‘House’ of his heart to be defiled with sin. “Weeping WILL linger for the night”, as long as the believer walks in self-induced darkness,’ but REJOICING comes ‘la’boker’…. yes, ‘in the morning,’ but, ‘boker’ can imply ‘early,’ and the prefix is ‘for’ in this conjugation…. the earlier ‘light’ comes back to the ‘house,’ the sooner the believer can REJOICE! This one is Psalm 30:4-6.
Then, we get even more contemplative, meditating on the “Compassions of יהוה ” . from 89:2-3, 12. Here, we confess that His compassions are worthy of our declaring them. So much so that the mountains will cry out rejoicing in Him [if we don’t]. I seem to remember Yeshua alluding to this? We stay contemplative, and ‘sing,’ “I love that יהוה will hear the voice of my supplications….” Ps 116:1-2; And then we can say, “Because He has turned His ear toward me, I will call on Him all of my days…. “In the courts of His HOUSE, in the midst of you, O Yerushalayim, HALLELU YAH!” [v19]. We who are believers in Messiah Yeshua do this in such a literal way, because we have a House that is fashioned by Messiah! I can’t EVEN get into all the depth of what is revealed here!
And now it’s time again to REJOICE! The next melody is a complete Tehillah, 117, which is only two verses long. It has a very middle-eastern flare, and a driving beat. Hallelu Et יהוה , kol Goyim, Shabekhuhu kol HaUmim; Ki gamal aleinu khasdo, v’emet יהוה l’olam. That’s it! Praise Him, all nations, Worship Him all peoples! For His compassion upon us is abundant, and His Truth is FOREVER!
The next melody is again quiet and meditative; its all piano and vocal, and is simply one verse; but, it’s not from the Tehillim. It is from “Eikha”, or “Lamenations”: “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of Adonai; lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, that faint for hunger at the head of every street.” Our life indeed should be about praise, and Abba is certainly deserving of all our praise, but the world is deserving of our supplication, our standing in as the royal Kohanim we are, pleading on behalf of the innocent. In our day and age, there is probably no better verse to express how desperate children today are for our intercession. And sometimes, it ‘seems’ as if Abba is not responding to our plea. “Ad Ana,” “Until when?” is the next lyric, from chapter 13. We left our rejoicing, and in the middle of the night got up to pray for the children, and now we ask, “Until when? How long will our enemy rejoice over me? But then, in spite of the waiting we must do, we yet say, “But as for me, in Your compassion do I trust; my heart shall rejoice in Your Salvation. I will sing unto יהוה , because He has dealt bountifully with me.” And we begin to leave our sorrow behind, returning again to our trust that HE IS going to move, and give justice, and compassion. And the music picks us back up again at this point.
The next melody seems to us to be a blend of Hebrew with Appalachian Mountain music. It’s bluesy, “Shir LaMa’alot,” from 121:1-5. It is a reminder that we have to return ourselves to this world, in our journey of ascent [Shir LaMa’alot means “Song of Ascent”]; along the way, there are many perils, but HE is our help! The Maker of Heaven and Earth.
The next song is another deviation from the book of psalms, taking us to Yesha-Yahu 40:31, again a single verse. And the tempo picks back up again, returning to a very authentic, Hebrew sound. Those who wait/hope in יהוה will renew their strength, they will soar in the air as eagles! They will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint. This is like the second wind of life. It is a reminder, especially for one in my stage of life, that it is WORTH waiting on and hoping in HIM. And that ONE DAY, He is going to ‘lift us up’. And HE strengthens us to get through this life.
And having that in mind, knowing that one who ‘waits for’ and ‘hopes in’ Him, we are HAPPY! And Tehillah 1:1-3 begins with a very upbeat, modern guitar rif, “Happy is the man! And this one has, at least for a season, become my favorite, as I have come to know that my happiness is completely rooted in HIM, and being OBEDIENT to His Tzedaka. And it is not a drummed up, temporary happiness. It is permanent, and completely independent of my circumstances. It is typically a more mature person who really discovers this truth.
And the last song, I don’t know if it was intended this way, but it certainly seems well placed, and seems to fit this theme of the album, that of our journey through life, whether that theme was intended or not as well. Tehillah 23 is read often upon the departure of a loved one; but, it is not written in the voice of the 2nd person, but of the first person: He leads ME beside still waters; he restores my soul… The melody starts very subdued, in contrast to the previous “Ashrei Ha’Ish, and takes us through the first three verses. Oddly enough, the tempo picks up when we get to the valley of Tzal Mavet… EVEN THERE we can PRAISE HIM! Passing through this life into the next! Though I walk through the valley of Tzal Mavet…. All of us are going to do it. But, HE sits us down and feeds us, while our enemies watch! He covers our heads in oil, protecting us. I will dwell in Beit יהוה FOREVER! What else could be so comforting for one ‘crossing the Yarden,’ going into Paradise?
Oddly enough, it almost doesn’t seem to matter in what order one listens to these particular scriptures, the message is the same. And this is true of the book of Tehillim; our ‘worship of David.’ I wish everyone who trusts in Messiah could come to understand the power of restoration and life that is in these songs. Not Miqedem’s, but David’s. Miqedem does a phenomenal job of bringing life to the lyrics, and giving us a taste of Yisra’el in our worship, and we at our congregation are very grateful. But, it is because the words are the very words of His Ru’akh [breath], expressing the very heart of Elohim THROUGH us, if we let them, that we sing them with such passion. I wish I had more time to elaborate, but I hope the reader has ‘seen’ what I have so many times when listening to this album; and so many times when praying these prayers in silence on Shabbat.
This ‘book of prayer’ is a mechanism that could restore the congregations to UNITY in Messiah. Singing them is wonderful. But inwardly meditating on them is even more wonderful, and powerful. I hope someone in inspired to do just that.