No, this isn't a self-help column or a motivational speech; it's just a brief note on "Baruch she'Amar", the opening blessing of the "psukei d'zimra" collection of psalms and passages from Tanach recited each morning.
The blessing's first half reads:
Blessed is the One who spoke and the world existed
Blessed is He.
Blessed is the One who performs "In the beginning"
Blessed is the One who speaks and performs
Blessed is the One who decrees and fulfills
Blessed is the One who acts with mercy upon the land
Blessed is the One who acts with mercy upon the creatures
Blessed is the One who pays good reward to those who are in awe of Him
Blessed is the One who lives forever and exists eternally
Blessed is the One who redeems and rescues
Blessed is His Name.
As is true for much of psukei d'zimra, I find it easy to become numb to the meaning of each individual line – but picking out a line and focussing on it can help me find new meaning each day. Some time back, the 9th line, "Blessed is the One who lives forever and exists eternally", caught my eye, because it doesn’t fit the overall structure.
I have two questions:
1. The rest of the lines describe Divine actions; is "lives" really an action?
2. The rest of the lines describe things Gd does on behalf of the universe; how is Divine existence an action taken on behalf of the universe?
Here's what I have come up with (and, of course, a note in my siddur hints to this, as a reminder when I say Baruch she'Amar each day):
Life implies action. To live is not merely to exist, to inhale and exhale (for us air-breathers, anyway). To live is to act. So, for example, Torah is described as עץ חיים, a Tree of Life, not in that it provides continued existence but in the sense that it fuels (positive) action. This answers the first question.
And then answering the second question: For Gd to live means for Gd to act – on our behalf, in all of the ways listed here, creating life and decreeing and acting with mercy and rewarding. And the emphasis is upon the eternity of it because this immortality guarantees that all of these actions will persist in the future, throughout human existence.
Blessed is the One who lives forever and exists eternally – who acts, and will continue to act, for us all.
And the take-away beyond davening, for me, goes into traditional "self-help" territory but it still worthwhile – Is my life a verb? Am I cycling air, or am I doing?...