Back in the mid-80’s we were moving from Moshav Elazar across the street (highway 60) to our new home in Efrat. So, we called one of the most venerable moving companies in Israel, Hovalot Ya’akovi, in business since 1950, just like me. On the phone, I asked to move the following Monday. The response? ‘No, you want to move on Tuesday, yom she’huchpal bo ‘ki tov!’ I was being informed that Tuesday’s the best day for new endeavors, because that day God said, ‘And it was good,’ twice. At that point, I was trying to remind myself who was the rabbi and who was the truckdriver. Of course, they may just have been fully booked on Monday, but I was convinced.
So, Yom Shlishi is a special day, and that must be reflected in the Shir Shel Yom for Tuesday. We recite Psalm 82. For the reason, we turn first to the Talmud in Rosh Hashanah: On the third day of the week. they would recite the psalm beginning: “God stands in the congregation of God” (Psalms 82:1), because on the third day of Creation He revealed the land in His wisdom and thereby prepared the world for His assembly that could now live on the dry land (35a). Not exactly what I was expecting.
Obviously, we’ve got to get a better understanding of the chapter itself to truly connect this Psalm to Yom Shlishi. The place to begin is the well-known declaration: God stands in the divine assembly; among the divine beings He pronounces judgment (Tehillim 82:1). This verse is used by our Sages to better understand court procedures (Sanhedrim 6b). However, it’s most famous use is: Rabbi Yitzḥak said: From where is it derived that God is located in synagogue? As it is stated: “God stands in the congregation of the Lord.” The congregation of God is the place where people congregate to sing God’s praises, and God is located among His congregation (Berachot 6a).
We’re still no closer to understanding what this has to do with Yom Shlishi. Reb Shmuel Eildels (Maharsha, 1555-1631) in his insights to Aggadot (non-Halachic material in the Talmud) helps shed some light on the matter. He comments that just like God’s separation of dry land from the oceans provides stability to the world, so, too, does the Divine Torah justice system provide needed balance to the world. The obvious connection between Tuesday and justice is, of course, the Flood. When human society loses its sense of fairness and security like in the generation of the Flood, the stability of the areas of human habitation are threatened with inundation and destruction.
It is this potential for the world to lose its normal stability which is referred to in verse 5: They neither know nor understand, they go about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth totter. The ‘they’ in that quote are the rich and powerful judges who often use their wealth and position as the unchanging reality of the world. They are ‘in the dark’ to the true reality, that all stability comes directly from God, and began on that primordial Tuesday.
There is an ever-present danger of judicial corruption. This dangerous reality is described in verse 6. In Biblical Hebrew judges are often called Elohim. This term can also be used to refer to heavenly beings and even God. It’s use demands that society treat justice with tremendous reverence, but it can lead to abuse. That’s why our Psalm warns those with judicial power: but you shall die as men do, fall like any prince (verse 7).
The rock-solid nature of our continents usually instills within us a sense of stability and security, which isn’t always justified. We must remember the cataclysmic flood of the generation of Noach. The only bulwark against a future disastrous inundation is our judicial system. Its fairness forms the dyke against the raging seas.
Tuesday and its Psalm are a reminder that this sense of safety is based upon our reliance on God, the only true Judge. So, the poor and needy, who must search for justice in this often-difficult world, are advised to best seek this fairness on Tuesday. God doubled the declaration that this world is good on that day. That’s why our Psalm reminds us: Judge fairly the wretched and the orphan, vindicate the lowly and the poor, rescue the poor and the needy; save them from the hand of the wicked (verses 3 &4).
Our poem reminds us of the dangers in our societies, but it’s Tuesday, so have some hope. Like the Ya’akovi’s said, ‘It’s a wonderful day to start something new and exciting.’