I awoke this morning thinking of my fellow human family members, some known to me, most not, who are sick and dying, who are hungry and homeless, who suffer the ravages of war and weather. I felt helpless to do anything to make anything better. In this, I – not yet sick or dying, hungry or homeless, a casualty of war or weather – recognized my self-indulgence in harboring this feeling of helplessness.
Then I prayed this psalm: When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy…Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses in the Negeb.
The people Israel, captive in Babylon, cry for emancipation. I sense their anticipation. For they sing in the past tense. “We were like those who dream” can be translated from the Hebrew “we became like the sands of the sea” – an allusion to the former Exodus-experience when the Israelites, freed from Egyptian slavery, passed through the parted sea. The people, again captive, dreamed of refreshment: “Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the watercourses of the Negeb.”
Then I thought that there are some, many who only can dream. Who bear little hope of awakening from sleep to a vision made real. Who cannot pray for fortune’s restoration, for they’ve never known abundance.
Then I was thrown back again on my self-pitying heap of helplessness.
The gist of Rabbi Gellman’s perspective: In the beginning, creation was messy. Angels encourage God to tidy it up. At successive stages, the angels deem it neater, yet wonder whether it’s finished. At each turn, God replies, “Nope.” Finally, God, fatigued, tells man and woman to complete the creation. They, too small for the task, protest they cannot. God suggests they become partners: “To be a partner means you can’t give up, even on days I don’t think you’re doing enough or you don’t think I’m doing enough, because your partner is depending on you.” Again, the angels ask if the world is finished. God replies, “I don’t know. Ask my partners.”
Then I realized afresh that, yes, there is much I never can do, yet I, with what I have, always am to do what I can, when I can, where I can, and for whom I can.
© 2022 PRA
 Psalm 126.1-2a, 4
 See Mitchell Dahood’s Psalms 101-150 (The Anchor Bible: Doubleday & Company, Inc.), p. 218.
 Marc Gellman, writer and author, academician and teacher, is the Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Beth Torah, Melville, New York.
 A midrash, like a parable, is a Jewish teaching application that employs a story to provide detail and application to scripture.