[M.M.X.I.V. 151 / M.A.P.L.E. III-31] Psalm 150

Just as last Saturday, my songs came through services this morning, and Psalm 150 (הללוהו אל בקודשו) was the seventh song for me today.  (Since I was in the “Conservative” group, much more of the service was done aloud versus when I went to Orthodox services last week.  As it turns out, the words of this Psalm, plus a few things about the day, lead to some interesting dualities.

One was the fact that Psalm 150 was almost certainly NOT the seventh song sung in services, but the seventh one in which I heard and/or participated.  The reason for this?  The source monitoring error!  On Monday of this week, I had gone to BHCBE (Beth Hillel-Congregation B’nai Emunah) for a שמחת בת (female baby naming) for the new baby of Shira, one of the congregation members who has hosted me for שבת afternoons in previous summers when I have ridden up to Wilmette on Saturday mornings for said services.

Well, at the luncheon after those services, some of the congregational members re-greeted me since I have not been there in this calendar year.  One of them mentioned that services there now start at 09:30 instead of 09:15 on שבת mornings.  Well, I must have inadvertently applied that to today’s service at Hillel, which was always slated to begin at 09:15.  So I walked in at 09:32, and they were already into the middle of the פסוקי דזמרה (Psalms and Songs) section of the service.

There was definitely a contrast of the day as I was walking toward Hillel, and the people that I saw walking on the sidewalk.  Today is (Arma)Dillo Day at Northwestern, which is a day-long music festival on the Lakefill.  Translation: It’s the day when students treat Northwestern like a party school, and many become quite inebriated.  Whereas I was walking in nice clothes, wearing a כיפה (kippah/yarmulke) and carrying (“OOPS!”) my טלית (prayer shawl) bag.

Back to services, it was more musical than what I experienced last week, as aforementioned in this post.  There was still some individual reading of the Psalms and other readings throughout the service, but more communal singing as well.  This is the way that I prefer it, as the singing is one of my favorite signs of community.

There are several “common” melodies to Psalm 150, and the one that I include at the end of the post is one that was not familiar to me, nor is it the one that was used in the service today.  (I could not accurately recreate the latter, however, as melodies will not always stick to me on the first application.)

So… both of what I have talked about (Dillo Day / drunkenness and Psalm 150 / singing aloud) were actually brought up again later in the day in my mind and re-intertwining.  Today’s Reading, נשוא  (lit. “Lift up”), gives the duties of the Levitical clan for carrying the Tabernacle in the desert, as well as the vow of the nazirite.  On the latter, the phrase “wine or strong drink” is used, which I recall from the הפטרה (Haftarah) from ראש השנה (Rosh Hashanah).
In that Reading, Hannah is praying inwardly, and her lips were moving, ineffably.  When Eli accused her of drinking, she said, “I have had neither wine nor strong drink… but am in distress.”  Rabbis have a field day with these lines, using this to show the merits of intention and heart which can and should be done silently, without others hearing it.  This seems to be integral, particularly in the Orthodox services, which have a lot of personal time for prayer, and sections of the service on which conversation is forbidden.
Yet, Psalm 150 implores people to be loud in praising G-d, with all the different instruments mentioned, and gleefully.  These may be two different situations and NOT actually contradictory, or there is certainly a way to be loud inwardly, while being silent on the outside.  In my practicing of Judaism, I see both as valid, but I prefer the Psalm 150 way of praying versus the Hannah way of praying.  The biggest reason that I am a regular at services is for the community, and singing certainly makes it feel more unified.
In essence, the duality that has intertwined itself in the day can be used in a lot of different ways to analyze.  Today was a mix of quiet and loud, both on the outside and the inside!
And it was almost fitting that the seventh song to end my run of seventh songs was the final psalm in the Book of Psalms.  That is to say, it is not an ending, but a new beginning!


Today is the one-hundred and fifty-first day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes twenty-one weeks and four days.

.היום שישה וארבעים יום, שהם שישה שבועות וארבעה ימים לעומר

Today is the thirty-first and final day of the third round of M.A.P.L.E.  That makes four weeks and three days.


3 thoughts on “[M.M.X.I.V. 151 / M.A.P.L.E. III-31] Psalm 150

    • Thanks, Ali! Though religious analysis is not my main career, I find a lot of interesting intricacies, particularly those which directly relate to a situation in which I participate.


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