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put your hope in god

09/23/2020 07:19:58 PM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

There are a number of interesting additions to the liturgy during the Ten Days of Penitence, which began on Rosh Hashanah and conclude with Yom Kippur. Amongst them is the interesting custom of adding a particular Psalm before the formal start of the morning service, which is marked by the recitation of the Barchu. We are instructed to turn to a page usually towards the back of the prayer book, and recite Psalm 130, which reads as follows:

                Out of the depths I call to You: Adonai, hear my cry, heed my plea!

                Be attentive to my prayers, to my sigh of supplications.

                Who could survive, Adonai, if You kept count of every sin?

                But forgiveness is Yours, so that we may worship You.

                My whole being waits for Adonai; with hope I wait for His word.

                I yearn for Adonai more eagerly than watchmen for the dawn.

                Put your hope in Adonai, for Adonai is generous with mercy.

                Abundant is God’s power to redeem; God will redeem the people Israel from all sin.


In an overview, this Psalm is precisely the text that we need and should recite. The Psalmist acknowledges our imperfections, and that the volume of our sins is beyond measure. That in itself makes is seem as though the potential for Divine forgiveness is scant. Yet the Psalmist, mindful of our precarious standing, offers words of promise and hope. God’s propensity for forgiveness offers us encouragement, for that is what God seeks, but a powerful metaphor that ancient Israelites understood is offered: the night watchmen. If ever there was a job that eagerly awaited sunrise, it was the night watchmen, who would hope every evening that their task would be boring. If we could put ourselves in the mindset of night watchmen and understand how eagerly they await the dawn, how much more so might we eagerly await Divine mercy? It is a brilliant comparison that makes it real without the need for explanation.

The Psalmist never suggests that we can just go to town and sin non-stop, expecting that God will redeem us no matter what. We are reassured at the conclusion to place our hope in God’s desire to forgive us our sins. The unspoken part is that we must do so with a contrite heart and sincerity. It is assumed that we understand that God sees that which is hidden from sight, and can plunge our depths to know our basic humanity.

The Psalm concludes with the powerful reassurance that we will be redeemed, which is what each of us seeks during these days. The question we have to ask ourselves is: do we deserve it? If our prayers and supplications are authentic, then we know the answer. God is at the ready to redeem. Are we at the ready to be worthy of it? Ken Yehi Ratzon. So may this be God’s will for all of us.

May you be sealed for a good year.


Wed, February 24 2021 12 Adar 5781