“And yet” was Elie Wiesel’s favorite phrase. “And yet” conveys paradox: seeming opposites as simultaneously true. Paradox is present in descriptions of God in Psalm 99: Ruler over all the earth and abiding in Zion; regarding historical prophets and priests- Moses, Aaron, and Samuel- forgiving kindly when called and severely punishing for single wrongs; holiness as a Divine quality to imitate and as a source of danger.
And yet, there is a consistency: God is the source of a magnificent creation and is the righteous Judge. Over a thousand years ago, a Jewish sage described God’s use of power, “A person who wields great power often has the self-perception of being above the law and tends to abuse that power by injuring others. But not so the Holy Blessed One, who loves justice and uses might to enforce the law strictly” (Midrash Shocher Tov). God’s justice is the essential attribute for the Psalm’s repeated call: “Exalt Adonai, our God.”
Below are some selections of music for two of the Psalm’s verses.
This morning’s study is dedicated to our Bible scholar, Dr. Ahuva Ho, and the birthday of her granddaughter, Noemi.