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Psalm 51

Dear Friends,

I so enjoyed my presentation of the first fifty Psalms and I am delighted to continue. We will resume today, October 20th, Wednesday, October 21st, and Thursday, October, 22nd at the new time of 9am. Each Psalm class is a half hour. Next up, Psalm 51.

Psalm 51 is a Psalm of repentance attributed to King David: “When Nathan the prophet came to him, after he [David] had come to Bathsheba.” King David had committed adultery and murder (two of the big ten). This story of 2 Samuel 12 is reason enough to come to class today. But more, the Psalm is for our sages a model of confession and remorse, “For my crimes, I am intimately aware and my sin is before me always.”

Each time that we chant the Amidah prayer, we begin with Psalm 51:17: “My Supreme One, my lips may you open and my mouth will tell Your praise.” Seeing the original context of the line, we are given pause to consider the link to our daily petitions to God.

This Psalm is also very popular in Christian liturgy, but with a key difference concerning the concept of “Original Sin.” The relevant verse is verse 7: “Behold in iniquity I was formed and in sin did my mother conceive me.” What is Original Sin and how do the religions differ?

There is much to discuss, including the artistry of this Psalm. If you have not yet participated, please consider checking it out. I look forward to sharing with all of you how these words of our people’s past are relevant in our lives.