Every Place I walk, I walk to Jerusalem: Thoughts on Psalm 137

Some of us have traveled to Jerusalem, the beautiful white stone city and some have not. But we have all been to Jerusalem. The name of Jerusalem - Yerushalayim in Hebrew - means city of wholeness or completeness. And at one point in our lives or another, we have all been in a place of wholeness a place of shlaymut.

We have all been to a place where the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and all is right with the world. It's a place of perfection we are able to visit, but can never dwell in for too long. Something always wrests us from that place of perfection to the place of brokenness where we most commonly dwell. Even the earthly Jerusalem, at 31.78° N and 35.21° E is only occasionally (and rarely at that) the Jerusalem of perfection.

But we’ve all been to Jerusalem, even if only for a moment. It can be horrible when we have to leave Jerusalem, leave our perfection. When we are taken from Jerusalem against our will, by force, by poverty, by illness, we yearn for what we have lost and can't imagine how we can ever recover it.

In Psalm 137, the 9th of Rebbe Nachman’s Tikkun HaClali, the Psalmist remembers Zion and weeps for what she has lost. Even in a pastoral scene of willows by a river, she can only see what is not there - her beloved Zion. Indeed, sometimes, the only healthy response to the loss of a Jerusalem is sorrow and weeping.

But there is always the danger that sorrow can calcify into bitterness and rage (Ps 137:8-9). The loss of a beloved Jerusalem can turn quickly to hatred for whatever or whoever took us from that place. Rebbe Nachman, however, offers another framework. He teaches בכל מקום שאני הולך אני הולך לירשאלים/ everywhere I walk, I’m walking to Jerusalem (music by Shir Yaakov Feit and Tali Weinberg).

Even as we weep, even as we mourn for Jerusalems that have been lost or never even realized, it's possible to ever keep in front of us a Jerusalem of wholeness to which we are ever walking. May we ever remember the times, the places, even the people we have lost and ever walk on to a Jerusalem of wholeness.

 

Introduction

Psalm 16 * Psalm 32 * Psalm 41 * Psalm 42 * Psalm 59 *

Psalm 77 * Psalm 90 * Psalm 105 * Psalm 137 * Psalm 150