Tuesday, June 18, 2013

TEHILIM and the pursuit of happiness (Psalm 1)

Understanding Tehilim is the Jewish secret to build one's character.  Tehilim teaches us many important life lessons. Let us see , for example, the first mizmor (Psalm).

1:1 Happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stands around with sinners, or joins in with mockers.

God created us with the purpose of being happy. Happiness, according to King David the author of Tehilim, depends on the combination of at least two elements: what we should pursue in life and what we should avoid.  This Psalm begins from the later.  First, King David cautions us to stay away from three type of people. 

a. Wicked. The wicked are those who are ideologically driven. They might be giving us advice or try to influence us against our well-being, for the sake of their own agendas. Illustration (a real case): a college professor with a strong anti-Israel agenda who identifies a young uninformed Jewish student and influences her to participate in an anti-Israel demonstration (what could be more desirable for his interests than a Jew rallying against Israel!). 

b. Sinners:  These are those who live a meaningless life and whose main efforts are oriented to satisfy their instincts and basic desires. Keep away from this lifestyle. They confuse happiness with temporary physical pleasures.   

3. Mockers (in modern Hebrew "clowns"). Are those who not maliciously, but foolishly, act as if their main purpose in life will be "entertainment". They devote all their free time to frivolity and shallowness. They are time-killers. And live distracted from the real meaning of life.  

King David says that our pursuit of happiness could be compromised by associating ourselves with the wrong type of  people.  Those who we befriend and/or learn from. If we follow their lead, true happiness will elude us. 

1:2. His delight is in the Tora of HaShem, and he meditates on it day and night.

David haMelekh now begins to explain what we should pursue. Happiness for us, the Jewish people, consists in following the lead of our Creator. Our formula for happiness starts by studying Tora. Acquiring thus the most important wisdom: God's wisdom. 

(to be continued)

 Click here to listen  Tehilim Psalm 1, Sephardic melody.     

Click  here, Tehilim Psalm 1, Yemenite version.