My friend formerly known as L. thanks you for the accompaniment in prayer and is very moved by it. He also says there's no need to use a fake initial since he is not that private, particularly with strangers. So he is now his real initial, which is P., and his partner, formerly known as Y., is now B. Confused yet?
So, we are praying for and with P., who is having a CABG on Wednesday, and his partner B. Both are dear friends of mine. We've been friends forever, nearly two decades. Okay, so that's half of forever.
Back to our sublime subject: the healing Psalms of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (Bratslav) and a contemporary commentary on them by rabbis male and female from different branches of Judaism.
The post on the first Psalm is here.
The post on the second Psalm is here.
Today's Psalm, the third in Rebbe Nachman's "Complete Remedy" (Tikkun HaKlali) is Psalm 41.
Today's commentary in the book we've been using is by Rabbi Rachel Cowan.
We pray also today with the grief of the Peters family in our hearts and minds.
Rabbi Cowan writes:
As we struggle to come to terms with illness, we hear our own voices in this meditation on suffering. The soul-wrestling of the psalmist speaks powerfully to us. Overwhelmed by the rush of fear, anger, and grief, she wonders where she will find the strength and courage to face her situation. Empathizing with her anguish, we nonetheless see that she has only begun the long journey to comprehend her situation and to transcend it. Right now, the faith she asserts so bravely at the end is hollow. She is alone. Many of us know this pain.
To the chief Musician: A Song of David
Happy is one who attends to the needy;
***On an evil day, Adonai will rescue her.
Adonai will guard her, Adonai will give her life;
***She will be considered fortunate on this earth,
******not subject to the whims of enemies.
Adonai will nurture her on her sickbed;
***Even when her illness advances, and her rest is disturbed,
***You will attend to her and turn things around.
As for me, I said,
***'Adonai, have pity;
***Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.'
My enemies speak evil against me:
***'When will she die and her name be obliterated?'
Even when my enemy comes to visit me,
***her concern is empty and false;
***her heart gathers malicious thoughts,
******which she then goes out and spreads.
Together, they whisper against me, all my enemies,
***they plot evil against me, they explain my suffering away.
'All her evil has returned to haunt her through this illness,'
***'And now that she has succumbed,
***she will never get up again.'
Even my intimate friend,
***whom I trusted, who ate my bread,
***has turned on me, has ambushed me!
But You, Adonai,
***Take pity on me,
***Be gracious to me,
***Lift me up and I shall repay them,
By Your healing I will know that You accept me,
***that my enemy does not shout triumphantly over me.
You will support me because of my integrity,
******You will let me abide in Your presence forever.
Blessed is Adonai, God of Israel,
***from eternity to eternity --
******Amen and Amen!
Rabbi Cowan continues:
... She is in a place many of us can recognize. But it is not a place we can afford to stay for long, once we have vented our anger, plumbed the depths of betrayal and isolation. For she has cut herself off from her most important source of strength --her community-- and she is seeking from God a false solace. ...
... So many of us, when we become ill, do as the psalmist did. We begrudge others their health, and lose them as allies in regaining our health. We are too proud to ask for support. Our prayers reflect the despair of this psalm. But our prayers often contain the wisdom that can lead to our healing as well, just as this psalm does. Our healing does not lie in self-pity or fantasies of revenge. It is in touching the deepest part of ourselves (and we all have wells that run very deep), in seeking comfort from God, and in reaching out to friends. Allowing ourselves to be comforted, we can comfort others, and bring about great tikkun/repair to our world.
This process may take a while. Nothing is easy when we are ill. But it can happen gradually. Then our prayers will change from calls for vengeance to cries to the One-Who-Heals-the-Shattered-Heart to help our heart to heal. ...
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.