Psalm 30 begins with the idea of dedicating a house, or “the House.”
מִזְמוֹר: שִׁיר-חֲנֻכַּת הַבַּיִת לְדָוִד.
mizmor: shir-chanukat ha-bayit l’David
A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House; of David.
Some translators move the words around for better logical sense to, e.g, “A psalm of David. A song for the dedication of the House.”
Later in the month, I hope to explore more about the meaning of these words and how the psalm has been used over the centuries. Today, let’s focus instead on the concepts of building and dedicating.
Build the World with Love
Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik (1903-1993) taught:
King Solomon built the physical structure of the Temple, it was King David who imbued it with its sanctity. Because Solomon built the physical structure in a state of prosperity and tranquility, he could not be the one to sanctify it. It was Solomon’s father who hallowed it through his worry, his concern, and his uncertainty. (see notes below)
— commentary in the Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur
So: worry, concern, and uncertainty can be part of building something important and precious, hallow the building, in fact. Which brings to mind the powerful song, from Rabbi Menachem Creditor, that has inspired so many Jewish gatherings — especially in “the resistance,” however defined — in recent years and days….
…A whole lot of worry, concern, and uncertainty follows governmental attempts to erase transgender individuals, vilify asylum seekers, fuel homophobia and xenophobia and racism and anti-Jewish feeling, plus White Nationalist killings in Louisville and Pittsburgh and attempts elsewhere. Can we harness those feelings to sanctify a building project we cannot even see yet?
Here’s the song’s author, Rabbi Creditor —
Here’s Adas Israel, a synagogue in Washington DC that was the site of an interfaith vigil on 10/29/18 —
Finally, here’s a still from the vigil for Louisville and Tree of Life at Dupont Circle in DC, 10/28, at which the song was also used.
2 of 30 on Psalm 30
As a National Novel Writing Month Rebel, I write each day of November while not aiming to produce a novel. This year I focus on Psalm 30 (“Thirty on Psalm 30”) in the hope that its powerful language will help us through these days of turmoil and toward something new, stronger and more joyful, as individuals and as community. Whole series (so far)
Look for more tunes and more on building. Shabbat shalom
“So Solomon built the house, and finished it”
וַיִּבֶן שְׁלֹמֹה אֶת-הַבַּיִת, וַיְכַלֵּהוּ
— 1 Kings 6:14]
Psalm 30, which is attributed to David, is full of trepidation as well as rejoicing. Many teachers discuss the meaning and timeline inherent in its varied sentiments.
Rabbi Soloveitchik says that it’s about King David having asked “God’s consent to construct the Temple,” and then suffering for “what seemed to be an interminable period” before God answered. See Koren Mesorat HaRav Siddur, Jerusalem: Koren/OU, 2011.
Here’s the full text of Psalm, with commentary on Sefaria and on Mechon-Mamre (older JPS translation)
Note R. Creditor’s introduction to the song (from YouTube):
“I wrote this song for my daughter, born right after 9/11. This world will be built by love: ours and God’s. In the best and worst of moments, non-fundamentalist “believers” and “atheists” are reaching for the same hope using different language. Amen to both.”