Psalm 18

“Gliding on the wings of the wind.” (18:11)

In order for a kite to experience lift, it needs resistance. If you let go of the string and let it fly free, it will quickly crash into the ground (or a tree, if you’re Charlie Brown). If you pull on the string, forcing air to flow over and under the surfaces of the kite, you create a high pressure area beneath the kite and a low pressure area above the kite. The high pressure zone lifts the kite towards the low pressure zone. We, too, need some resistance, some challenges in our life, to reach our highest potential.

Psalm 17

“You have tested me and found nothing amiss.” (17:3)

I wish I could get a medical test that would confirm that I will live a long and happy life. Regrettably, such a test does not exist. A test can only confirm that at this moment I either have a disease or condition that is actively threatening my life, or I do not have such a disease or condition. A test which shows nothing wrong is no guarantee of similar future performance. Instead of asking for tests and looking for signs that we are living our lives properly, we would be better off looking for ways that we can continually improve our character and behavior.

Psalm 16

“Lovely indeed is my estate.” (16:6)

Judaism appreciates beauty. Hiddur Mitzvah is the idea that we might enhance a mitzvah by doing it in an esthetically pleasing way. While we might make kiddush on Friday nights with a plain drinking glass, we typically use a special cup dedicated to Shabbat. A Judaica collection in the home should not be a museum display of objects seen but never touched. There is joy in a Hanukkah menorah covered in wax drippings, and sadness in a menorah passed down from generation to generation in pristine condition. The greatest beauty is found in an object which a grandparent used to teach a grandchild the deepest meanings of Shabbat.

Psalm 15

“… speaks truth in his heart.” (15:2)

To lie convincingly, most people, unless they suffer from a personality disorder, need to believe the lie. If you fully acknowledge the truth in your heart and mind, it is very difficult to lie. Your body will most likely give you away. Your eyes will shift, your tongue will stutter, or your voice will drop. Your body physically resists telling what it knows to be a lie. It is possible to override your body’s impulse and teach it to lie more effectively, but it is so much easier to teach your yetzer hara (selfish inclination) to tell the truth, inside and out.

Psalm 14

“Those who devour my people [as] they devour bread.” (14:4)

One can choose to eat mindfully and treat people mindfully as well. Part of healthy eating is to pay attention to the experience, the flavor and the texture of the food, while monitoring your body’s response to it. Eat foods that energize your body in positive ways and stop eating when you have had enough. Don’t use food to compensate for something you are missing from your life. Similarly, enjoy the uniqueness of each person you encounter over the course of your day. Don’t treat them as a means to your own selfish ends. The clerk serving your needs is deserving of as much human dignity from you as you expect from him or her.

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