Thursday, May 3, 2012
http://www.chabad.org/dailystudy/tehillim.asp?tDate=5/1/2012 Chapter 49 This psalm is a strong message and inspiration for all, rich and poor alike, rebuking man for transgressions which, owing to habit, he no longer considers sinful; yet, these sins incriminate man on the Day of Judgement. The psalm speaks specifically to the wealthy, who rely not on God but on their wealth. 1. For the Conductor, by the sons of Korach, a psalm. 2. Hear this, all you peoples; listen, all you inhabitants of the world; 3. sons of common folk and sons of nobility, rich and poor alike. 4. My mouth speaks wisdom, and the thoughts of my heart are understanding. 5. I incline my ear to the parable; I will unravel my riddle upon the harp. 6. Why am I afraid in times of trouble? [Because] the sins I trod upon surround me. 7. There are those who rely on their wealth, who boast of their great riches. 8. Yet a man cannot redeem his brother, nor pay his ransom to God. 9. The redemption of their soul is too costly, and forever unattainable. 10. Can one live forever, never to see the grave? 11. Though he sees that wise men die, that the fool and the senseless both perish, leaving their wealth to others- 12. [nevertheless,] in their inner thoughts their houses will last forever, their dwellings for generation after generation; they have proclaimed their names throughout the lands. 13. But man will not repose in glory; he is likened to the silenced animals. 14. This is their way-their folly remains with them, and their descendants approve of their talk, Selah. 15. Like sheep, they are destined for the grave; death shall be their shepherd, and the upright will dominate them at morning; their form will rot in the grave, away from its abode. 16. But God will redeem my soul from the hands of the grave, for He will take me, Selah. 17. Do not fear when a man grows rich, when the glory of his house is increased; 18. for when he dies he will take nothing, his glory will not descend after him. 19. For he [alone] praises himself in his lifetime; but [all] will praise you if you better yourself. 20. He will come to the generation of his forefathers; they shall not see light for all eternity. 21. Man [can live] in glory but does not understand; he is likened to the silenced animals. Chapter 50 This psalm speaks of many ethics and morals. The psalmist rebukes those who fail to repent humbly and modestly. He also admonishes those who do not practice that which they study, and merely appear to be righteous; they sin and cause others to sin. 1. A psalm by Asaph. Almighty God, the Lord, spoke and called to the earth, from the rising of the sun to its setting. 2. Out of Zion, the place of perfect beauty, God appeared. 3. Our God will come and not be silent; a fire will consume before Him, His surroundings are furiously turbulent. 4. He will call to the heavens above, and to the earth, to avenge His people: 5. "Gather to Me My pious ones, those who made a covenant with me over a sacrifice.” 6. Then the heavens declared His righteousness, for God is Judge forever. 7. Listen, my people, and I will speak; O Israel, and I will testify against you-I am God your God. 8. Not for [the lack of] your sacrifices will I rebuke you, nor for [the lack of] your burnt offerings which ought to be continually before Me. 9. I do not take oxen from your house, nor goats from your pens; 10. for every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle of a thousand mountains. 11. I know every bird of the mountains, and the crawling creatures of the field are in My possession. 12. Were I hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and everything in it is mine. 13. Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? 14. Offer confession as a sacrifice to God, and fulfill your vows to the Most High, 15. and call to Me on the day of distress; I will free you, and you will honor Me. 16. But to the wicked, God said, "What does it help you to discuss My laws, and bear My covenant upon your lips? 17. For you hate discipline, and throw My words behind you. 18. When you see a thief you run with him, and your lot is with adulterers. 19. You sent forth your mouth for evil, and attach your tongue to deceit. 20. You sit down to talk against your brother; your mother's son you defame. 21. You have done these things and I kept silent, so you imagine that I am like you-[but] I will rebuke you and lay it clearly before your eyes. 22. Understand this now, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart and there be none to save you. 23. He who offers a sacrifice of confession honors Me; and to him who sets right his way, I will show the deliverance of God." Chapter 51 This psalm speaks of when Nathan the prophet went to David's palace, and rebuked him for his sin with Bathsheba. David then secluded himself with God, offering awe-inspiring prayers and begging forgiveness. Every person should recite this psalm for his sins and transgressions. 1. For the Conductor, a psalm by David, 2. when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had gone to Bathsheba. 3. Be gracious to me, O God, in keeping with Your kindness; in accordance with Your abounding compassion, erase my transgressions. 4. Cleanse me thoroughly of my wrongdoing, and purify me of my sin. 5. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 6. Against You alone have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Your eyes; [forgive me] so that You will be justified in Your verdict, vindicated in Your judgment. 7. Indeed, I was begotten in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 8. Indeed, You desire truth in the innermost parts; teach me the wisdom of concealed things. 9. Purge me with hyssop and I shall be pure; cleanse me and I shall be whiter than snow. 10. Let me hear [tidings of] joy and gladness; then the bones which You have shattered will rejoice. 11. Hide Your face from my sins, and erase all my trespasses. 12. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew within me an upright spirit. 13. Do not cast me out of Your presence, and do not take Your Spirit of Holiness away from me. 14. Restore to me the joy of Your deliverance, and uphold me with a spirit of magnanimity. 15. I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will return to You. 16. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, God of my deliverance; my tongue will sing Your righteousness. 17. My Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Your praise. 18. For You do not desire that I bring sacrifices, nor do You wish burnt offerings. 19. The offering [desirable] to God is a contrite spirit; a contrite and broken heart, God, You do not disdain. 20. In Your goodwill, bestow goodness upon Zion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. 21. Then will You desire sacrifices [offered in] righteousness, olah and other burnt offerings; then they will offer bullocks upon Your altar. Chapter 52 David laments his suffering at the hands of Doeg, and speaks of Doeg's boasts about the evil he committed. David asks, "What does he think? Does he consider the doing of evil a mark of strength?" David also curses Doeg and those like him. 1. For the Conductor, a maskil by David, 2. when Doeg the Edomite came and informed Saul, saying to him, "David has come to the house of Achimelech.” 3. Why do you boast with evil, O mighty one? God's kindness is all day long. 4. Your tongue devises treachery; like a sharpened razor it works deceit. 5. You love evil more than good, falsehood more than speaking righteousness, Selah. 6. You love all devouring words, a deceitful tongue. 7. God will likewise shatter you forever; He will excise and pluck you from the tent, and uproot you from the land of the living forever. 8. The righteous will see it and be awed, and they will laugh at him: 9. "Here is the man who did not make God his stronghold, but trusted in his great wealth, and drew strength from his treachery.” 10. But I am like a fresh olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God's kindness forever and ever. 11. I will thank you forever for what You have done; I will hope in Your Name, for You are good to Your pious ones. Chapter 53 This psalm speaks of when Titus pierced the curtain of the Holy of Holies with his sword, and thought he had killed "himself" (a euphemism for God). 1. For the Conductor, on the machalat,1 a mas-kil2 by David. 2. The fool says in his heart, "There is no God!" They have acted corruptly and committed abominable deeds; not one does good. 3. God looked down from heaven upon mankind, to see if there was any man of intelligence who searches for God. 4. But they all regressed together; they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. 5. Indeed, the evildoers who devour My people as they devour bread, who do not call upon God, will come to realize. 6. There they will be seized with fright, a fright such as never was; for God scatters the bones of those encamped against you. You shamed them, for God rejected them. 7. O that out of Zion would come Israel's deliverance! When God returns the captivity of His people, Jacob will exult, Israel will rejoice.
http://www.bookslut.com/nonfiction/2005_02_004373.php Broome, Jeff Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal of Susanna Alderdice in the Kansas Indian War, Lincoln, Kansas: Lincoln County Historical Society, 2003 February 2005 Jack D. Crispin, Jr. nonfiction Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal of Susanna Alderdice on the Kansas Indian War Kansas has been getting a bad reputation lately, what with the Red State nonsense and Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter with Kansas. We will leave that argument for another day. What cannot be argued is the fact that the settlement of Kansas was anything but boring. Many consider it the birthplace of the Civil War, with Quantrill's burning of Lawrence, and John Brown's murdering slave owner sympathizers. The long cattle drives ended at the rail heads in several Kansas towns, and the cowboys revelries are notorious. Throw in with these the usual mix of lawmen and lawless, criminals and crusaders, the early days of Kansas were quite lively. But few dramas played out as fierce and horrifying as the Indian Wars. The cause of these wars are multitude and are still being debated today. Jeff Broome's Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal of Susanna Alderdice on the Kansas Indian War looks not for historical answers, nor does it take a political stance. Its aim is to depict the situation of the white settlers during this time. These people were not policy setters, and as such, they played no part in the creation of problem. They were people that wanted a place of their own, land to work and live on. They were a continuation of the creation of this country that started with the first white footsteps on this land. The story is primarily that of Susanna Alderdice and her family. Through extensive research in the National Archives, author Jeff Broome pieces together the story of this pioneer woman and her capture by Dog Soldiers, the warrior society of the Cheyenne Tribe. During a raid that ended in the murder of two of her sons and her daughter, the pregnant woman was abducted and taken to Colorado. Her husband tried desperately to get the Army to intercede (including a personal appeal to George Custer), but their efforts were hampered by the difficulty of finding the Indians on the empty plains of Kansas, Nebraska and eastern Colorado. When they finally raid the Indian camp, Alderdice is not among the living. The facts of the story are extremely well documented. Suppositions are identified as such. The great efforts by the author to recreate this story, and to verify the facts give the reader a real glimpse into the lives and hardships of the settlers. The book makes no pretense to consider every point of view, but it gives a concise and clear view of this piece of the puzzle. This book can be obtained from the Lincoln County Historical Society, 216 W. Lincoln Avenue, Lincoln, KS, 67455. 785-524-9997 Dog Soldier Justice: The Ordeal of Susanna Alderdice on the Kansas Indian War by Jeff Broome Kansas State Historical Society 314 Pages
http://sn111w.snt111.mail.live.com/default.aspx#!/mail/InboxLight.aspx?n=678009096!n=1464131381&fid=1&fav=1&mid=7e974c08-94ac-11e1-b7ec-002264c28130&fv=1 Expressions of the Soul Chapter 1, Mishna 17 "Shimon his son [the son of Rabban Gamliel of the previous mishna] said: All my life I have been raised among the Sages, and I have not found anything better for oneself than silence. Study is not the primary thing but action. Whoever talks excessively brings about sin." The theme of this mishna is the danger of excessive speech. Excessive speech is detrimental in practically every area -- and R. Shimon touches upon a few in our mishna. Speech about mundane or inconsequential matters is often a waste of our time and energy, and carries with it the dangers of sinful speech such as gossip and slander. Even regarding Torah study, talking is hardly the goal. The Talmud writes: "Great is study for it leads to action" (Kiddushin 40b). The goal of our study should not be to develop our intellects or to let everyone else know what great scholars we are. It should be to apply our new-found knowledge to ourselves and make a difference in our lives. Lastly, the Sages consider silence to be a sign of greatness. King Solomon wrote, "The voice of a fool is in many words" (Koheles 5:2). (Some of us know the Mark Twain version: "Better to remain silent and appear dumb than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.") :-) The more someone says and the louder he says it, the less likely his words are worth listening to (which is of course why he has to say them so loud). Speech is a gift -- not to be wasted or overused. We learned recently: "say little and do much" (1:15 www.torah.org/learning/pirkei-avos/chapter1-15b.html). We are ultimately judged, both by G-d and man, not by our big talk and brash promises but by our deeds and accomplishments. Speech, according to Jewish tradition, is a uniquely human trait, a Divine gift specially entrusted to mankind. Genesis 2:7 states: "And the L-rd G-d formed man, dirt from the earth; He blew into his nostrils a living soul, and the man became a living being." Onkelos, a sage of the period of the Mishna, in his Aramaic translation of the Scripture, translates "a living being" as "a speaking being." Clearly, our ability to speak is one of the most basic aspects of our humanity, distinguishing us from the rest of the animal kingdom. As R. Abraham Twerski has observed, in the eyes of the Torah, man is hardly the "homo sapien" or intelligent baboon science has classified him. He is a living, thinking, feeling, and communicating being -- and the crown of G-d's creation My teacher R. Yochanan Zweig (www.talmudicu.edu & www.torah.org/learning/rabbizweig) posed a very simple question on this. In what way is speech truly unique to man? As we know, many animals communicate with each other, often in rather complex ways. Further, there is a well-known Midrash (Targum Sheni to Esther 1:3) which states that King Solomon, wisest of all men, understood the languages of the birds and animals (based on I Kings 5:13). He answered that there are two types of speech. The first level is speech which communicates our physical needs. Animals "talk" but their topics of conversation are entirely bodily -- staking out territory, attracting a mate, telling their fellow bees or ants where you just started your picnic. Human speech, though often at least as crude, contains an entirely different dimension: we express our souls. We express our emotions; we give reality to our thoughts, feelings and yearnings by putting them into words. And this is the type of speech which truly makes us human. Our souls, not nurtured and developed through language (whether spoken or written), possess only the vaguest and most incoherent yearnings for spirituality and human emotion. When, however, we tap into those yearnings and give them expression, we both discover and develop our souls, and we mature into beings formed in the image of G-d. Further, as with all of our Divine gifts, once we are entrusted with the gift of speech we become obligated to use it properly. When we do, we give expression and vitality to our souls. If we do not, however, we sink lower than the animals. We take a distinctly human trait and pervert it. And we sink to the level of the homo sapien -- and below. We use our superior IQ's to slander, insult and put others down -- harming them in ways animals could never imagine. A vicious and unbridled tongue, rather than serving as a vehicle for the development of the soul, can be used to destroy both the soul of its bearer and the souls of others. Maimonides, in his commentary to this mishna, has a lengthy but very worthwhile discussion about speech which we will summarize below. He divides speech into five categories. (1) Obligatory: speech which the Torah requires us to utter. The primary example of this is Torah study. (Maimonides does not mention prayer. I assume this is because prayer is not considered "speech" per se, but is more of an internal, meditative activity.) (2) Praiseworthy: speech which is not commanded by the Torah, but which fulfills a positive purpose. This would include complimenting others, praising good people and qualities, and denigrating bad qualities. Also words -- as well as song -- which inspire, which touch the soul of the listeners and goad them to become greater people would fall under this category. (3) Permissible: speech which relates to our businesses and our basic needs -- food, clothing etc. One is considered praiseworthy if he minimizes his speech in this category. (4) Undesirable: empty talk, that which the listener gains little from. This would include much of what we hear in the news (if it's not the juicy stuff which probably belongs to an even lower category). The commentators give such examples as discussing how a person became rich or died (or both), or how a wall was constructed. (It's almost amusing that scholars such as Maimonides had difficulty even conjuring up examples of such talk. One imagines that they could not easily conceive of wasteful talk that would hold anyone's interest in the first place. Guess they lived in the days before pro sports...) :-) (5) Forbidden: that which the Torah explicitly forbids -- cursing, false testimony, gossip (whether true or false), vulgar language, etc. Maimonides writes that needless to say, the first two categories should form the bulk of our speech. Even regarding this, however, he adds two qualifying conditions: (1) We practice what we preach. Learning but not doing, or praising good deeds which we ourselves do not fulfill may very well be worse than not speaking or learning in the first place. In this vein, our mishna stated: "Study is not the primary thing but action." (2) Our speech should be concise and to the point. We should always be wary that our words are proper and carefully chosen. Too much speech is counterproductive in almost every area. Even regarding Torah study the Talmud writes that one should teach his students in as concise a manner as possible (Pesachim 3b). And likewise, our mishna concludes: "Whoever talks excessively brings about sin." There is an important point to add here. It was actually made to me by my wife when I was preparing the original version of this class. (You'll just keep this between ourselves, but she actually usually *is* right.) ;-) We wrote above that light and trivial conversation serves little purpose and should be minimized. But then again, how do we make friends? Through schmuessing ("shmoozing" in Americanese) -- through small talk and enjoyable conversation. Is that really a waste of time? True, eventually the true friend is the one with whom you will share much deeper and more intense conversation. But how do we get there? Through a lot of light and "wasteful" speech that both R. Shimon and Maimonides would seem to frown upon. If so, how does one go about making friends? Is the only way jumping in and studying Torah together? The simplest answer is that perhaps such speech is useless on its own, but is what we'd call a "hechsher mitzvah" (a preparatory good deed). I.e., its value is in that it will (or might) lead to greater things. And this is sufficient to justify the many steps along the way till one arrives at true friendship. In truth, however, there is a much deeper idea here as well. Speech does not have to be about G-d and religion to be valuable. Even light speech may be worthy if it is an expression of caring and concern for others. Kibbitzing with another in order to befriend him or her, to show an interest in the other and to become a part of his life: all such speech is a form of using our Divine gift properly. The Talmud (Ta'anis 22a) records that Elijah the Prophet told a scholar that a certain two individuals, who were then passing by, were destined for a special portion in the World to Come. When the scholar inquired from the two what they did, they explained that (in addition to another merit) they were comedians, and if they would come across an unhappy person, they would humor him till he cheered up. In addition, communicating and relating to others on almost any level can be a sharing and growing experience. Our speech can always be a learning experience -- for through it we learn to understand other human beings. The Talmud states (paraphrased) that even the light speech of great scholars should be considered words of Torah (Eiruvin 54b). R. Zweig likewise once told me that it often occurs to him that he is having a "casual" conversation with another person, and all of a sudden it hits him: "Now I know what the Sages meant when they said X..." We can only truly study Torah when we have grown to be broad enough to understand many perspectives on life. Whenever we open up and are receptive to another human being, we understand life and the world around us just a little bit better. And this is true between nations as much as between individuals. Thus, our speech must not be wasted or overused. But it is a gift, which through proper use will become the jewel which disti nguishes us -- and crowns us -- as human beings.