Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Healing Psalms, Day Five

P. is out of heart surgery and now begins the recovery, some of it short and some much longer. (The sternum takes a while to heal.)

Modern medicine is amazing, when you think about it, and so is the human body. Glory be to Godde for both of them, the science and the person. And please, Congress of the United States, can we have decent health insurance for all, and soon?

Back to our sequence of Psalms, recommended for both R'fuat HaGuf (Healing of the Body) and R'fuat HaNefesh (Healing of the Spirit). Rabbi Nachman of Breslov identified these ten psalms as the Tikkun HaKlali, the Complete Remedy.

Rabbi Nachman, or Rebbe Nachman as some call him, lived from 1772 to 1810, not terribly long. People died younger in those days. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 38. He lived in the era of the French and American revolutions, deist philosophers, the days of the Terror in France, and Napoleon - and very far away from them all, both geographically and philosophically, in Czarist Russia. He was a Hasidic master and the great-grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov, the great Jewish mystic and leader whom the editors of our book call "the progenitor of the Hasidic trend in Judaism." This movement stressed the mystical and emotional dimensions of Judaism to complement its intellectual and carefully structured dimensions. Rebbe Nachman was --among many other things-- a great believer in the power of prayer.

Today's Psalm is Psalm 59, with Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg as commentator. I'm going to be brief because I've just realized I'd better stay within Fair Use. And you really do want to buy this book. (Info at bottom of each post.) It's quite wonderful and you don't have to be Jewish to use or appreciate it. It might make you a little more Jewish, though.

Rabbi Peltz Weinberg writes:

This very personal psalm contains the cries of someone searching for help in the face of life-threatening danger, beginning with a plea in despair and ending with a song of praise and thanksgiving. It moves from terror to serenity in a three-fold structure telescoped into a mere 18 lines.

Just a few lines tonight, and then you can read the full psalm on your own.
Rescue me from enemies, my God:
***from those who rise up against me --strengthen me!
Rescue me from those who act treacherously;
from bloodthirsty people --save me!
For they lie in ambush for my soul,
***brazen ones gather against me;
***yet I have not transgressed,
*******nor sinned against them, Adonai!

But you, Adonai, You laugh at them,
***You scorn the evil among the nations.
***My Strength--
******for Your Help I wait,
******for God is my Haven
God, my Hessed/Faithful One,
***You will go before me. ...

Rabbi Peltz Weinberg writes:

... As the enemy is named and acknowledged, so is God, source of help, strength, and support. Three words appear in the Hebrew. Each word as it is pronounced allows the suffering person to leap across a chasm of hopelessness. The words are names of an intimate reservoir of help, an answer to the cries at the height of panic. The words are personal - ozi, My Strength, misgavi, My Haven, and hasdi, My Faithful One. As we name the unseen hands that cradle us in our most bereft moments, we can allow ourselves to lay some of our heavy burden in those hands. The psalmist takes a breath. We pause. Selah.

Previous posts on the Healing Psalms are here:

Day One
Day Two
Day Three
Day Four

From Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, C.S.W., ed. Healing of Soul, Healing of Body: Spiritual Leaders unfold the Strength and Solace of Psalms. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1994.


Joseph Zitt said...

My rabbi, Yakov Travis, tells and analyzes an amazing story about Reb Nachman's last days in his article “Adorning the Souls of the Dead: Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav and Tikkun HaNeshamot.” in Shaul Magid, ed. God’s Voice from the Void: Old and New Studies in Bratslav Hasidism. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002).

It's too complex to post standing on one foot, but the short version is that Reb Nachman moved to a town with a large cemetery, and prayed with the focus of getting the lost souls of people in a sort of purgatory-like state to cross over to the World to Come with him when he died. It's tricky but fascinating, and I must write an opera about it someday :-)

PseudoPiskie said...

Prayers for P continue.

Lindy said...

I didn't know that Reb Nachman was the Bal Shem Tov's grandson. But, of course...

Glad the surgery went well.

Jane R said...

Great-grandson, I think, per above and what the book said. And yes, of course...

Thanks for your good thoughts and prayers, Lindy. I'm about to phone B. to get a second-day update. He phoned me yesterday after the surgery was over.

Joe, if anyone could write an opera about that, it would be you. :-)

Jane R said...

Oh, and thank you, PseudoPiskie, didn't mean to leave you out!