By Chaim Grossferstant
Let me begin by making an admission. I am not a card carrying member of the â€œalert Hanoch Teller immediatelyâ€ crowd and am somewhat skeptical of â€œvisionariesâ€ who sense Hashgacha Pratis everywhere. Itâ€™s not that I donâ€™t believe that Hashgacha Pratis exists everywhere; itâ€™s just that I think that the maintenance of our free-choice is set up in such a way that we should be mostly oblivious to Hashgacha Pratis most of the time.
But there is a recent news item that really causes a thinking Jew in these perilous times to pause and ponder. Yesterday, the New York Sun reported (page 9) that on Tuesday Irish archaeologists discovered an ancient book of psalms spotted by a construction worker while driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog. (Parenthetically there are a number of blogs Iâ€™d like to drive the shovel of a backhoe into!) What we would call a â€œTehillimâ€, it is a Psalter and has been approximately dated to the years 800â€“1000 A. C. E. Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland described it as â€œreally a miracle find.”
But what makes the find of particular interest to people who are Jewish but not necessarily archeologists is that the book was found open to a page describing, in Latin script, Psalm 83, in which, according to the AP, â€œG-d hears complaints of other nations’ attempts to wipe out the name of Israelâ€ and that in effect, the Psalter cannot be moved from that page. Because â€œIt could take months of study just to identify the safest way to pry open the pages without damaging or destroying them.â€
You can read the article in its entirety here.
If the NY Sun story is accurate then this Psalter was found open to kapitâ€™l pay gimel (83) which is AKA Shir Mizmor Lâ€™osof. What makes this discovery Providential is that several years ago when a spike in suicide bombings began this is the precise kapitâ€™l that Gedolei Yisrael instructed us to begin our â€œ3 extra kapitalch of Tehillim a dayâ€ with. Furthermore, they have asked us to intensify davening these 3 extra kapitalch (among others) during the Gush Katif convergence/ pullout and, most recently, during the current Hamas/Hezbollah kidnapping /bombardment crisis. What the New York Sun article fails to mention is that this kapitâ€™l doesnâ€™t merely talk about other nations’ attempts to wipe out the name of Israel. It is a passionate prayer that these plans be thwarted and turned on their heads. Its denouement pointedly links HaShemâ€™s glory to that of His Chosen people.
This story is making international news. Absent the war in Lebanon and Iâ€™m fairly certain it would not have been relegated to page 9 below the fold. The Psalter being open, and stuck upon, Psalm 83 davka, seems more than a mere coincidence. I am not an oracle who can offer an authoritative interpretation of this â€œmiracle findâ€ but It seems plausible to me that it being discovered at this time may mean that HaShem is trying to send one of/or two messages: To us: keep davening this kapitâ€™l and doing tâ€™shuva b/c the time is nigh when, as the kapitâ€™l describes, the whole world will be ganging up against you to try and utterly annihilate you. To our enemies: Donâ€™t mess with my Chosen People.
But here the plot thickens. Almost any other kapitâ€™l and the discovery reverts to an archeological yawn interesting only to antiquity buffs. Check out the way NPR and the Irish Museum report the same story:
These two sources claim that it corresponds to the modern Psalm 84 NOT to Psalm 83. I donâ€™t know my vulgates from my King Jamesâ€™ but I do know that while 84 is a beautiful and lyrical kapitâ€™l it is not loaded with the same message as the actual Psalm 83. Though itâ€™s only one Psalm â€œoffâ€ a miss is a mile! Yet based on NPR infamous far left-leaning track record of â€œobjectivityâ€ when it comes to reporting all things religious, Jewish and Israeli and Irelandâ€™s less than stellar even-handedness Vis a Vis Israel I smell a conspiracy. NPR posted an English translation of Psalm 84 on their website. As beautiful and lyrical as kapitâ€™l 84 is how comfortable would the brass at NPR have been about posting kapitâ€™l 83 on their web site?
On the other hand as long as the Divine puppet Master has already allowed the story to be broadcast as Psalm 83 (what most of the Bible reading world identifies as Shir Mizmor Lâ€™osof) perhaps the facts on the bog (or by nowâ€¦ in the museum) are of no real consequence.
What do YOU think?
If you want to say Psalm 83 for the Matzav in Israel, here is a link.