Here is the full title of this piece:
“Psalm Reading… Not Palm Reading – And Age Is So Much More Than A Number!”
My good friend and holy brother Salvador Litvak… creator and founder of the brilliant The Accidental Talmudist… told me that it is customary to read the Psalm of your age every single day… But it is one ahead, of course… so if you are 40 years old… I wish… you would read Psalm 41.
I guess I am going to out myself here, in a major way… but as of Friday 8/26, I am now reading Psalm #51. Look, I do have some vanity left… and while age is a number… a way to mark time… and is all in the mind… 50 seems to be the age when things start to… well… go down hill a little bit.
I am fighting to lose weight… get trim… remember things… and just not look, act or feel 50. The main reason I do not like discussing it, is that I work in businesses that is ageist. Hollywood… advertising… careers like that put way too much emphasis on youth.
Age, history, knowledge and wisdom seem to get the shaft over young and beautiful. I am not being cynical, truly… but I am being realistic. Ask anyone working in Hollywood… and this goes for those in front of AND BEHIND the cameras… Ouch!
And yes… yes… CLEARLY it is even worse for minorities and women. So as an average white guy I feel a little odd at complaining… but sadly, we are all in the same tiny boat… mostly… getting edged out into the frigid, cold waters… and the Titanic is sinking fast… Strike up the band!
Okay… have I lost you yet? Putting that little ditty aside… Let’s get to the spiritual, for there is some actual uplift and joy coming out of this post!
Let me start with two great quotes from Olympic champion Dara Torres:
And… “The water doesn’t know how old you are.”
12 medals total (four of each)… and that includes three silver in 2008 (eight years after her previous Olympics!) at the age of 41. Boom!
Here is what I say:
Young, old… whatever your “number” is… live life to the fullest… dream big and dream large… study and learn, always… and always do the right thing. Live above and beyond your years… or behind them, if you wish… just live. Don’t be trapped or limited by numbers or definitions… define yourself, do not EVER let others do that for you. And no matter where you are on the journey, be true to who you are.
I will admit I did not much care for Psalm 50… It was a bit cold… and talked a lot about literal sacrifice… But Psalm 51 hit me like a ton of lead…
In fact, it almost seems to be telling me how to live my life… the present and the future… not necessarily a prediction… but a guide… a what to do. Not every word… there are still some ideas and phrases that are… well… difficult and challenging… but I will highlight what struck me.
So let us have a Psalm Reading… Not a Palm Reading!!!
And no coincidence that this is our 151st post!!! Hmmm…
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your kindness; according to Your great mercies, erase my transgressions.”
“Wash me thoroughly of my iniquity, and purify me of my sin.“
“For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.“
Obviously this is most timely for the holy period we are entering into… where we take stock and responsibility for ourselves and our actions… and yet, this is something we should do every single day… We should always, consistently and continuously, be growing and learning and owning who we are and what we do!
“Behold, You desired that truth be in the hidden places, and in the concealed part You teach me wisdom.“
“Make me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You crushed exult.“
“Create for me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
“Do not cast me away from before You, and do not take Your holy spirit from me.”
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and let a noble spirit support me.”
Again, what brilliant lessons… what wonderful ideas to adhere to… what a great way to live life… To HEAR joy and gladness… to allow Hashem inside us… inside a pure heart… and to renew our spirit. To recognize that things may be hidden but that Hashem is always there… always around us… and that there is potent and powerful learning there.
“I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You.“
No, we do not proselytize, nor try to convert, but we should always teach and share Torah. It is who we are… and quite literally, in our DNA.
And one of my favorite things to say in prayer… the opening to the Amidah!
“O Lord, You shall open my lips, and my mouth will recite Your praise.”
Though I prefer this translation:
“My Lord, open my lips that my mouth may declare Your praise.”
Followed by: “For You do not wish a sacrifice, or I should give it; You do not desire a burnt offering.”
Our words of prayer are essential. They make a huge difference, even though it is clear that Hashem controls all…
We do not need to make a burnt offering, yet we DO need to connect with Hashem… every day… with our words… out thoughts… our prayers. We need to recognize all He does, all He has done and will do. We need to express gratitude and praise every single day, for this is how we bond with and become close to Hashem. This is how we truly know Him.
Great lessons to learn and read daily as I move into the next 50 years. So thank you Psalm 51. Amen!
Thanks for the shoutout, Marc! Having just finished a year of Ps. 51 in June, I can attest that it’s a good one, and you did it justice with this wonderful post!