The Torah (3)
André H. Roosma
17 March 2012
Absolutely delightful! Like a big fat kiss!
Like a what...?
Yes! In Dutch (my mother tongue) we say,
‘om te zoenen!’ (meaning something like:
‘I’d like to kiss it/her/him!’ My dictionary translates:
And that is literally what Psalm 1 says about the Torah.
In the MKJV translation it reads (verse 1 and 2,
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel
of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the
and on His law he meditates day and
I wondered what the Hebrew original is of the emphasized part of verse
אִם) that (בְּתוֹרַת)
in the Torah of (יהוה)
(חֶפְצוֹ) is [to] him [like]
The Hebrew word חֶפְצ - chephets
was written in the old pictographic, Biblical script1 as: –
the border [of] the mouth (i.e.
the lips) - to press. That is (in my humble
view): to kiss.
Mostly this is translated by: delight, pleasure, joy, longing.
This calls forth the question: how could we
possibly find that kind of delight in the Torah? If the Torah is a
law, a commandment, which you do only with some aversion, because it is not
attractive, then this would be rather incomprehensible.
But fortunately, the Torah is not a
dull law, but God’s instructions for a happy and worthy (community) life, largely in the form of a history on how
He walked with Israel and stood up for them (a.o.
delivering them from Egyptian slavery).
And that is definitely a most delightful story!
It inspired Israel, and it can inspire us as well, to indeed memorize, and to
meditate on His
instructions and the stories about how He
lovingly dealt with His people, day and night, all those years.
That meditating on them, Hebrew: הָגָה -
hágáh, is in the old script interesting as well:
the feet, in joyful wonder’. This reminds me of Mary, who liked to sit
at Jesus’ feet, listening attentively and with joy and wonder...
Other voices (like ‘the advice or counsel of
the ungodly or wicked’) then become a lot less persuasive and
other ways (like ‘the way of sinners’)
and ‘seats’ become much less attractive!
The consequence is that you are considered ‘happy’, or
‘blessed’; one could also translate: that you are successful.
The Hebrew word that is used in the beginning of verse 1 for this is
’ashrei from: אֶשֶׁר - ’esher
- happy, blessed, successful, from אָשַׁר -
’áshar - go straight; in the old script: - the first source of God.
This can be explained in two ways: as someone who is very dear to God,
or as someone who has God as his/her first source and thereby always enjoys
abundance. In both cases you can truly be called blessed and happy indeed!
One of the ways to become so blessed, apparently is to consider the Torah – that collection of God’s
instructions for a happy community life (partly in the
form of a story on how He stood by Israel ‘in better and in
worse’) as absolutely delightful!
Hallelu YaH !
This is a sequel to: The Shema‘ – the First Testament declaration of faith (1),
Part (5), and
- (1) A series of laws and commandments? and
Throughout the First Testament.