Shabbat Prayers: Pesukei d’Zimrah: Vayivarech David
“And David blessed God in the presence of the entire congregation.” David represented everything to the Jewish people. Can you imagine his impact when the now unified, stronger, and confident people? If they understood this farewell speech that we are reading, in which he introduces the seven lower Sefirot, he must have elevated them to an unbelievable level. Yet, with all his greatness, he would have to die in order for the Beit Hamikdash to be built.
Can you imagine the mixed feelings of the people? They are filled with both devastating sadness over the end of their beloved Kings life, and expectations of the magnificent future.
This paragraph leads directly into the next, “And they blessed Your glorious Name that is exalted above every blessing and praise (Nehemiah 9:5).” This paragraph composed before building the second Beit Hamikdash, continues the theme of expectations. They too were filled with expectation mixed with sadness that this temple would not equal, could not equal, the first.
Nehemiah’s prayer is immediately followed by the song at the city. The song is a song of expectations! “God shall reign for all eternity!” Is a statement of their expectations of the future. The women’s song was accompanied by musical instruments they had prepared in Egypt because they left Egypt with expectations that tremendous miracles would occur.
The Zohar (Vayakhel) teaches that at this point of the conclusion of Pesukei d’Zimrah, we should be filled with expectation that our Shema and Shemonah Esrei will be the greatest of our lives.
The fact that we read Nehemiah’s prayer immediately after King David’s is to remind us that expectations exist on a continuum that stretch back to the song of the Sea and in fact back to the moment when we left Egypt:
Imagine if you saw everyone around you die, the world being turned upside down, even if you were not affected, and all that was protecting you with some blood on your door, would you feel vulnerable? Even though your enemies are being punished, even though you are safe, this new Master of yours, God, has the ability to reverse reality. At least when Pharoah was in charge, the trains ran on time. How many of us wait so long for everything to be just right only to constantly lose significant opportunities? We were forced to leave before everything was right. We did not have enough to eat. We were not prepared for a long journey. Sometimes you have to rush at an opportunity, the secret of the matzoh. Bitterness, Maror, can destroy us. Things not being right is livable. Bitterness is unbearable. The key to being able to rush at an opportunity despite not everything being prepared or ready is expectation.
We may not feel adequately prepared for the most awesome Shema or Shemonah Esrei of our lives. But the expectations will get us there. They will allow us to rush at the opportunity and to succeed.