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"Taste And See That The Lord Is Good" Psalm 34. 8 By Fr. Isidore Clarke, O.P.

"Taste And See That The Lord Is Good" Psalm 34. 8                                           By Fr. Isidore Clarke, O.P.

Imagine you're the young Jewish lad in this picture.There he is, struggling to learn to write the sacred text of the Hebrew Bible on his slate. To make this lesson more attractive Eastern European Jews came up with a beautiful idea.They would cover his slate with honey into which the lad would inscribe the sacred words.Periodically he would draw in from the tip of his stylus and recite from Psalm 34. 8, "Taste and see that the Lord is good."

From that simple gesture he would learn that the Sacred Scriptures expressed the special relationship between God and His Chosen People.His word would nourish their love for each other. Frequently they would recall the wonderful saving deeds God had done for His people. His word would be a 'lamp for their feet and a light for their path,' (cf. Ps. 119. 105). God's Law, or rather His Teaching, would provide a framework through which that relationship would be expressed and protected.Not surprisingly in the Book of Deuteronomy God could exclaims, "what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?" (Deut. 4. 9).

God would inspire spokesmen –the prophets -to keep His people faithful to their special relationship and to warn them when they were going astray.If their life with God were nourished by His sacred word, the worst possible thing that could happen to them would be,"a famine of hearing the words of the Lord," (Amos.8. 11).That would mean that communication between God and His People had broken down, and therefore, the end of their special relationship.All this was implicit in the Jewish lad licking the honey-coated stylus with which he had inscribed the sacred word of God!

It's no wonder that Jews hold the Sacred Scripture in such great respect, as containing the very word of God.They have such reverence for the sacred text, inscribed on the synagogue scrolls, that they do not touch it with their fingers, but with a stylus.

That was what the Jewish lad was learning to do as he prepared to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, through which he would become a 'son of the commandments or teaching.'That would be a joyful rite of passage, which entitled him to read the Scriptures publicly in the synagogue and obliged him to obey God's Law.

This Jewish approach to the Hebrew Scriptures is important for us Christians.After all, that was the tradition in which Jesus, the Jew, was brought up and which He came to fulfil and perfect, not destroy.To argue over the Scriptures was the Jewish way of deepening their understanding of their true meaning. In this Jesus was a typical Jew.

Through my friendship with Jews and hearing them lecture I've been greatly impressed by their knowledge and love of the Scriptures.But I was most moved when we were able to join in prayer, based on our common heritage of the Old Testament.

Isidore Clarke O.P.

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