Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Psalm 95:1
Beginning with the opening line, "Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;" Psalm 95 is an invitation to praise God. But where exactly are we going?
The mystical masters who lived in the holy city of Tzfat in Israel during the 16th century understood this verse as encouragement to actually go somewhere special when praising the Lord. Once a week, they would leave the hustle and bustle of city life and go out to the fields and forests in order to connect with God.
But there is another understanding of the verse as well one that influences how we live daily.
I heard the following story from my friend Avi, a rabbi with a thriving congregation. Like many community leaders, Avi is a very, very busy man. One day, Avi was taking a rare break in his day to speak with his father. His father said he was planning a visit and wanted Avi to pick him up at the airport . . . right in the middle of rush hour!
"Dad, I love you, but I just can't get away for that long. I'll send a car service," Avi offered. But the father wanted his son to greet him at the airport and insisted Avi come. Again, my friend said, "Dad, I love you so much. But I just can't do it." "Just come," the father said. "I love you, but I can't," came Avi's refrain. After a few more exchanges like this, Avi's father had enough.
"Stop loving me so much and just pick me up from the airport," Avi's father said, and he hung up the phone.
Feelings don't mean much if we don't follow them up with action.
Back to Psalm 95. Where are we invited to go by the psalmist when he beckons us to "Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD"? Anywhere and everywhere! Every place that we can transform our feelings of love into actions of service, that's where the psalmist wants us to go. Go somewhere, and do something good. That's the ultimate way to praise the Lord!
Come, let us go to an old age home, a soup kitchen, or maybe just the airport to pick up a relative or friend. This week, let us think about where we can go and what we can do to praise God through our actions and our hearts.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President