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"Let my soul bless God"

November 24, 2016 22:49

Psalm 103: Reaching Inwards to God

"[A psalm] of David. Let my soul bless God, and let all that is within me [bless] His holy Name." [Ps. 103:1]

The psalm concludes with the same theme, "Let my soul bless God" [v.22]. The soul clearly has a special connection to God. But are our internal organs - "all that is within me" - also capable of singing God's praises?

Human versus Divine Creative Acts

According to the Talmud [Berachot 10a], David composed this verse after reflecting on the unique nature of God's creative powers:

"Mortal man is not like the Holy One. A human being can draw a figure on the wall, but is incapable of placing within it spirit and soul, organs and intestines. The Holy One, however, is different; He shapes a form within a form, and gives it spirit and soul, organs and intestines."

When we create an object, whether it be a table, a sculpture, or a skyscraper, we can only manipulate its external properties. Even a robot is merely a sophisticated machine, lacking true emotion and intelligence. Inventors, engineers, and artists cannot truly connect with the inner essence of their work. We ourselves are created beings, and as such can only relate to other created objects on a superficial level. We may fashion its external shape - "draw a figure on the wall" - but we cannot give it spirit and soul. We have no control over its true inner nature.

God, on the other hand, relates equally to all aspects of His creation, whether external or internal. The essence of creation emanates from God's will and influence. He created and sustains the inner nature of all creations: for inanimate objects, their very state of existence; for living creatures, their instinctive nature and life-force; and for human beings, their feelings, intellect, and soul.

Searching Inwards

We sometimes read of extraordinary spiritual journeys, of people seeking out God and the meaning of life as they scale the majestic heights of a distant mountain or withdraw to the infinite vastness of an isolated desert. The psalmist, however, indicates that a more authentic journey would perhaps start much closer to home. We should search for God, not by turning outwards to the distant and remote, but rather inwards to the immediate and near. "All that is within me [will bless] God's Name."

As Rav Kook penned in Arpilei Tohar, p. 74:

"Within the soul, all worlds are revealed. As we deepen our inner awareness of the soul's qualities, we expand our understanding of all [things]. In particular, the soul of the universe and the original light from the Source of all life is revealed, according to the extent that we discover the universe within the soul itself."

The human soul connects to its Creator through its very essence. "Let my soul bless God" - the soul seeks and finds God within itself, in its intellect and elevated feelings. If we want to relate to our Creator, then we need go no further than our own inner selves. We can most easily relate to God through our natural qualities: our innate need for meaning, and our most powerful inner drives for justice, goodness, and progress.

The soul perfects itself when it is able to identify the Divine within its powers and inner nature. Then, through its own self-awareness, the soul is able to recognize its Creator, and bless Him with love and great joy.

[adapted from Ein Ayah vol. I, p. 52]

From Rabbi Chanan Morrison

November 24, 2016 22:49

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