Psalm 24 “L’David Mizmor” is said towards the close of the evening Rosh Hashanah prayers. In many congregations it is said after opening the Ark, line after line dramatically repeating the Chazzan. A big theme of this Psalm is “Lift up the Gates!” opening gates of spiritual access, allowing G-dliness to shine forth.
We’ve discussed this Psalm before but our extensive experience with Zoom during the period of Corona has given us new insight into a few of its verses.
Perhaps “Lift up your gates” can be seen as open up your screens! Don’t hide behind a black square or screen saver. Turn on your video! May it be that both us & G-d, each of us on our end, shouldn’t hide behind a black screen/screen saver but be more visible & revealed to each other. We ought to synchronize more, be more actively engaged with each other. Let us be more visible, to better feel the closeness and connection.
We shared this during the prayers on Friday night, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, and later that night during the holiday meal some students mentioned that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away earlier that day.
While we didn’t know of her passing when we shared this, the above ideas of “opening your screen” and “showing your video” may be a testament to her life’s work as well. She fits this message well, as she was never one to hide behind a veil, she was bold & strong & feisty (“the Notorious RBG” was her moniker) for her values, she spoke up for those behind a darkened screen, helped people, and their needs and rights, be more visible & engaged. And she was a proud Jew, even if non-observant or not as affiliated, she was proud of her Jewish identity and upbringing, and she often attributed many of her values of justice to her Jewish heritage. She certainly didn’t hide it at all, on the contrary!
The story going around about her efforts to get the Supreme Court closed for Yom Kippur (see it here by Nathan Lewin for JTA or here by Paul Hamburger for The Forward) is most meaningful to me because of the argument she used – not for herself, not for one Jewish lawyer currently before the court, but for all of time, for generations to come, why make a lawyer choose between his day at the Supreme Court and his/her faith.
Personally, I find her unique friendship with Justice Scalia most impressive, there’s not enough of that these days. But that’s a whole different story. The messages above happen to jive nicely and meaningfully with what we shared on Rosh Hashanah eve, just after her passing.