Only Today: Reflections on Psalm 59, the fifth Psalm of the Tikkun HaClali
Wellness and illness are not fixed states; they are snapshots of a moment, points in time. Nobody can truly say, “I am well”; we can only accurately say “I am well now.”
Spiritually traditional Jews will often preface statements about the future with the phrase, “בעזרת השם/b’ezrat haShem,” or “with the help of the Holy One,” as in “b’ezrat HaShem, I’ll get married next week,” or even, “b’ezrat Hashem, I’ll go to school tomorrow.” In other words, I know what I have planned for tomorrow or next month, but who can really say what will happen?
Like so many of us, the Psalmist knows that situations which seem stable are not. In Psalm 59, the fifth of Rabbi Nachman's Tikkun HaKlali “[Troubles] lie in wait for my soul; Mighty troops gather against me” (Ps 59:4; translation Norman Fischer). The circumstances that can move us from healthy to ill, from rich to poor are always present.
Necessarily, wonderfully, we live with the assumption that the blessings of today will, in fact, be present tomorrow. If we didn’t, we could never prepare for the future. We couldn’t learn, we couldn’t grow, we couldn’t raise children. And yet, we are caught up short when we are reminded that there is no guarantee of tomorrow. We are devastated when reminded of our mortality, as if it hadn’t been there all along.
The world offers us the reasonable hope of tomorrow, the space for the mundane hope of another day, but no guarantee of tomorrow.
There is no permanence; there are only the blessings that exist here and now. “I sing in the steadying light of your kindness, for You have been my release,” writes the Psalmist. “My refuge on a day when I was full of distress. To you, my strength, I will sing, for you are my shield, My kindness.”
We are graced with the tremendous opportunity to live in the light and kindness that exists today and hope that it endures till tomorrow.