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Reflections on Psalm 32 - Psalm Two of the Tikkun HaClali

Discernment is the heart of wisdom.

Absolutism is a snare. As Kenny Rogers put it, “you have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” Only a fool does the exact same thing at every turn in a card game, and so too in life. 

When we are faced with suffering, as we inevitably are, we have many options - resistance, acceptance, rage, self-pity and many more. Our foolish hearts often throw themselves away at the first path to present itself, but that is rarely the path we need.

How can we be discerning about which path to follow?

In Psalm 32, the second of the ten Psalms that make up the Tikkun HaClali, the Psalmist lists those who are happy, one of whom is “those whose rebellion is lifted up.” (אַשְׁרֵי נְשׂוּי-פֶּשַׁע)

What might it mean to “lift up” our rebellion?

Sometimes we are truly rebels without a cause, struggling against the flow of life and against our own true nature for no apparent reason. Other times we wisely rebel against fates that can be overcome - illnesses that can be reversed with medicine, ignorance that can be vanquished with education, poverty that can be overcome with effort.

The Pslamist hears the voice of the Holy One saying “I will grant you success and I will show you the way that you shall go; I will guide you with My Eye.” It is perhaps the wisest prayer to ask for the guidance on the way we should go, to hope for discernment worthy of a Divine Eye. It's a wise heart, not a foolish one, that can lift up its own rebellion against reality and know when to hold on and play your cards, when to fold a hand, when to walk away and when to run.


Psalm 16 * Psalm 32 * Psalm 41 * Psalm 42 * Psalm 59 *

Psalm 77 * Psalm 90 * Psalm 105 * Psalm 137 * Psalm 150

Wed, May 25 2022 24 Iyyar 5782