Monday, September 5, 2016

"Ashrei": a happy move into the direction of righteousness

A few psalms contain the hebrew expression אשׁרי " Ashrei". Some of these psalms are used daily in Jewish liturgy ( click on the following link to listen to a prayer in Hebrew.)
The first Psalm actually begins with the word "Ashrei".

So what is the meaning of this expression?

"Asher" in Hebrew means " happy or blessed". "Ashrei" would translate by " Happy are" or " Blessed are". Interestingly, in his French Bible translation, André Chouraqui, who was really Hebrew savvy, rendered "Ashrei" by " Debout", so "Stand up". This additional  nuance is important in my opinion, because it presents people walking on the path of righteousness in movance with Hashem's flow ( or with the Spirit's flow if you prefer.)

Numerous paths, but one single way to righteousness

  1. I love psalm 1, because it opposes the path of the wicked, the sinners and the  path of the mockers to the path of the righteousness.
  2. "Happy or blessed" is the man who does not walk the first path, but who willingly chooses the path of righteousness.
  3. The righteous man pleases himself in the Torah night and day.

This person flourishes in his ways. Everything he does PROSPERS. 
So here we have a clear message. If you delight yourself in the Torah, Hashem will make you prosper.
The text in Hebrew clearly says " Torah", so please understand that righteousness is linked with obeying the Torah.

"Ashrei" in the perspective of the Sermon on the Mount

           Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God

"O the gladness of the poor in Spirit! For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
  O the gladness of those who mourn!
  For they will be comforted.
  O the gladness of the humble!
  For they will inherit the earth.
  O the gladness of those who hunger and thirst for tzedakah
  For they will be satisfied.
  O the gladness of the compassionate!
  For they will be shown compassion.
  O the gladness of the pure heart!
  For they will behold God.
  O the gladness of those who pursue Shalom
  For they will be called sons of God.
  O the gladness of those who are pursued on the account of tzedakah!
  For theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.
  O your gladness if they insult you and pursue you, falsely speaking all kinds of evil about you 
  for my sake!
  Be happy and rejoice, because your reward in Heaven is great, for they pursued the prophets 
  who were before you."

  Sermon on the Mount, Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels, Matthew 5:3-12

Especially regarding rabbi Yeshua's Sermon on the Mount, André Chouraqui's translation makes sense, because it puts the blessed person who obeys Yeshua's words in perfect harmony with the Spirit's perpetual flow. The crowd of the righteous is in perpetual movement in accordance with Hashem's law which underlines the following points:

  • The Sermon on the Mount is not just the passive discourse of a dreamer. It is a clear call to action. Stand up and follow the Way.
  • It gives you directions for your life, what the Hebrews call "Halakha" from the Hebrew root הלך, to walk.
  • Obeying Torah garantees you success. However, do not expect it in to be to the world's standards.

Copyright© by Isabelle Esling

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