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Thought for the Day: David HaMelech's Five Stages of Finding HaShem In the World

Many of us "sing" (once you have heard what I call carrying a tune, you'll question how I can, in good conscience, use that verb, even with the quotation marks) Eishes Chayil before the Friday night Shabbos meal.  We feel like we are singing the praises of our wives.  In fact, I have also been to chasunas where the chasson proudly (sometimes even tearfully) sings Eishes Chayil to his new eishes chayil.  Beautiful.  Also wrong.  (The sentiments, of course, are not wrong; just a misunderstanding of the intent of the author of these exalted words.)

Chazal (TB Brachos, 10a) tell us that when Sholmo HaMelech wrote the words "She opens her mouth Mwith wisdom; the torah of kindness is on her tongue", that he was referring to his father, Dovid HaMelech, who (I am continuing to quote Chazal here) lived in five worlds and sang a song of praise [to each].  It seems to me that "world" here means a perception of reality.  Four times Dovid had to readjust his perception of reality; an adjustment that was so encompassing that he was essentially living in a new world.  What follows is my commentary/understanding of the Dovid's five worlds -- what hanged, what adjustments he need to make, and why he sang praise for it.

Dovid's first world was in the womb of his mother.  An idyllic existence, learning Torah with a malach (angel) -- the one and only desire of the neshama -- no distractions... what could be better?  On that stage of his life, Dovid sang out: barchi nafshi HaShem, v'chol k'ravai es sheim kodsho/bless, my soul, HaShem, and my innards His holy name! (T'hillim 103:1)

Then Dovid was born.  Can you imagine how his soul felt?  Suddenly thrust out of the one existence he has ever known -- and alone!  Suddenly bereft of the malach who has been his constant companion, teacher, and friend.  Then Dovid looked up and saw the planets, stars, and constellations.  Ah!  The malachim are still here, just a step away -- barchu HaShem malachav giborei ko'ach osei d'varo.../bless HaShem, his angels, soldiers of strength who do His word (T'hillim 103:20,21)

Now the infant Dovid feels something he has never felt before, a rather unpleasant feeling that gets worse by the minute -- he's hungry!  Then his mother comes to nurse him and Dovid contemplates the deep wisdom and understanding of this process of receiving nourishment.  He is cradled in his mother's arms and getting his nourishment; and a very sweet nourishment it is, as he has to work for and earn it.  Barchi nafshi es HaShem v'ahl tish'k'chi kol g'mulav/Bless HaShem, my soul, and do not forget all of His loving kindness (T'hillim 103:2)  (There's much more to say on this... perhaps in a later TfdD...)

Dovid grows and observes the world.  There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to the daily news.  This one does good, this one does bad... what difference does it make?  Leis din v'leis dayan/is there no law, is there no judge!?  Then he sees -- time and time again, a very clear historical pattern -- the downfall of the wicked; yeish din v'yeish dayan/there is law, there is a Judge!  Sinners will vanish from the land, and evil doers will be no more; barchi nafshi es HaShem, hal'lu'kah/bless, my soul, HaShem, everyone -- praise G-d! (T'hillim 104:35)

But how long will people wander, doing what feels good for the moment instead of building themselves into eternal beings?  What will prompt them to t'shuva and a healthy lifestyle; a lifestyle to earn eternal reward?  Dovid saw that there is a day of death; that great motivator to change before it is too late.  Barchi nafshi es HaShem, elokai g'dalta m'od, hod v'hadar lavashta/Bless, my soul, HaShem; my G-d is exceedingly great, clothed in grandeur and glory! (T'hillim 104:1)

Talk about precocious!

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