We already examined the first two verses of Psalm 1 (see this). David haMelekh, the author of this Psalm, explains that the Jewish pursue of happiness begins by knowing that we should avoid the company of bad or shallow people . Why? Because consciously or not they will influence negatively in our lives driving us away from the path to happiness. For a Jew, true happiness consists in following the lead of HaShem our God. And this is done by studying His Tora.
The third verse says that the man who follows the path of HaShem:
"...will be like a tree planted on streams of water, bearing fruit each season. Its leaves will never wither. And he will prosper in all he will do"
"A tree planted on streams of water"
David haMelekh compares this happy man with a tree. Why? Because both grow. There is probably no bigger frustration than realizing our own stagnation, when we see that we are in the same spot year after year. Happiness is the effect of realizing that we progress. When we study Tora, King David says, we are constantly growing. Emotionally; in our wisdom and in perfecting our character. This tree/man will be "planted" in watered ground. The water/Tora will be constantly feeding its roots and stimukating its development.
This tree will bring forth its fruits and will have strong leaves. "Fruits" are the rewards for a man's life of virtue. The fruits are his children, those who will continue the lead of HaShem. Contrary to the feeling of stagnation, a man that has fruits sees that his example will continue even after he is gone.
Unlike fruits which are beneficial to the tree itself, the leaves, the shadow that they create, is enjoyed by others. This man's happiness will consists not just in seeing the fruits of his actions but also by seeing that what he does is productive for others. Charity, good deeds, helping others, teaching Tora, etc. these are the type of actions represented by the leaves/shadow of this tree.
King David asserts that what a Jew must do to pursue happiness is to keep away from bad influences and to follow the lead of HaShem, i.e., His Tora. Then "He will prosper in everything he does".
Dedicated to Rivkah and Jacob Bitton for the birth of their baby boy.
Monday, July 29, 2013
TEHILLIM: Psalms 1:3. Happy like a tree
Labels: Tehilim 2013