Let him who is convinced that his views are true and right express them . . . at every opportunity . . . without considering how much support or how much opposition he will encounter. Only falsehood is in need of many supporters in order to win the day; falsehood must have the authority of numbers to make up for what it lacks in justification. Truth, by contrast, will always prevail, even if it takes time. Noble, courageous and pure, expressed with all the fiery zeal and conviction and with all clarity of sure awareness, stated again and again at every opportunity, truth will ultimately gain respect and admiration even of those who do not accept it. The only truth that can be lost beyond recall is that truth whose adherents no longer have the courage to speak up candidly on its behalf. Truth has never gone down in defeat as the result of opposition, it has done so only when its friends are too weak to defend it. - R' S.R. Hirsch

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ashrei - Forward Striving

Forward strives the man who has never walked in the counsel of the lawless, never stood in the path of the frivolous and never sat where the scornful sat (Psalm 1:1).

Ashrei is the first word in Psalm 1 which is generally rendered 'Blessed' or 'Happy' in most translations.  The root asher connotes to step forward or to "progress".  In the Hebrew language, the relative pronoun, asher, which is employed to introduce the predicate to the subject or an object, expresses a step forward in thought.  Therefore, in the context of Psalm 1, the picture is of a man 'striding forward', i.e. one who is determined to progress towards the eventual attainment of material and spiritual wealth.  In short, ashrei encompasses all possible progress.

Striding forward is the primary motive and main objective of all the thoughts and acts of men.  The rasha, the evildoer, in order to reach his goal, throws off the yoke of His law; the hata, the frivolous man, abandons his sense of duty and loyalty; while the leitz, the sophist, is one who scorns everything that prevents him  realizing his heart's desire.

All three, the rasha, the hata, and the leitz, pride themselves as ones who are progressive, while disdainfully regarding as inferior those who hold fast to principles which oppose and challenge their own views and ways.  In other words, the psalmist argues that the progress for which all of them are striving is only realized by the man who does not follow their ideologies, but rather derives all of his principles, principles which serve to shape and mold all of his activities and endeavors, solely from the Word of G-d. 

It is the first word of this Psalm from which the blog takes its title and theme.  True progress will only be realized when men study, take to heart, and apply the words of the Holy One, blessed be He, words which He spoke and had written down for us.  Words through which He has revealed Himself, His attributes, His character and what He expects and demands of us who have been created in His image.  


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