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Bible. 0.7. Psalnes. Hebrew and
A Selection of Psalms with Explanatory
for Home Use in Jewish Families
Mrs. NATHANIEL L. COHEN
Author of “ The Infant Bible-Reader"
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS LTD
NEW YORK: BLOCH PUBLISHING CO
This little volume is an attempt to help Parents in the anxious task of moulding the first conscious efforts towards abstract thought in the minds of their children.
Little children always seem to have a very present consciousness of the existence of a supernatural power, as though the voice that breathed life into them still echoed within them. It is the Parents' task reverently to use this inborn instinct, in order to stimulate the development of the higher impulses of humanity. If this consciousness be stimulated recklessly or injudiciously, it may lead to superstition and to the miseries of nervous terror, and all the attendant evils of cowardliness, deceit, and untruthfulness. But if it be treated wisely, that mysterious consciousness develops into a loving trustfulness in the goodness of the Great Power, and lends courage and comfort at many a critical moment both of childhood and after-life. It is the basis of every form of moral teaching, and of that great fundamental doctrine of Judaism,-the direct personal responsibility of every human being to the One Divine Power. It is, in fact, the well-spring of conscience and courage, and grows with the growth
of the understanding and becomes an ever-expanding ideal of goodness, around which all the great attributes of goodness group themselves in the youthful mind,- Justice, Truthfulness, Honour, Kindness, Generosity. This conception of goodness -the consciousness of something stronger, higher, better than ourselves-helps to develop the faculty of veneration, and with it the kindred feeling of filial obedience and love in the highest form.
There is a questioning and analytical phase of mental development through which all thinking ininds are bound to pass, in the transition from accepting the parental religious teaching with childlike faith to assimilating it by the aid of thought and reason. At this stage, when all forms and observances are critically considered and weighed, a consciousness of a Higher Power above and beyond mortality, a habit of mind of looking for help to that Higher Power, and a knowledge of the deeper emblematic meaning of observances temper the judgment and aid every human being in that process of self-discipline by which he makes his faith in a special sense his own.
It seems to me that if the development of the religious sense is omitted from education, the most exalted idea of goodness is left out, and the sense of duty, and of right and wrong, is little more than an appreciation of the minor virtues. Life is so much the poorer for being shorn of the halo of high spiritual aspiration. Instead of a fixed and lofty ideal of life and conduct, based on the highest conception of Divine Perfection of which the human
mind is capable, and to which one and all try to rise, there pievails a limited and fluctuating ideal, subject to the chance influences of surroundings and associates, and coloured by the social grade and worldly interests of each individual, and by the changeful current level of public opinion.
I think it is a pressing duty to endeavour to avert this disastrous moral plight, to which the charge of materialism so justly comes home. I have therefore tried in this little book to help Parents to familiarize their children in home talks and readings with the exalted poetry of the Psalms; with their lofty moral teaching and their comforting prayers. The simpler Psalms of Praise need little comment, but it may, I hope, be found helpful to analyse the train of thought in the more elaborate Psalms, and also to indicate some characteristic peculiarities of Eastern modes of expression.
The Psalms are not arranged in the Bible in the order of simplicity; therefore in this volume the numerical titles of the Psalms most suitable for reading to young children are printed in red, both in the Index and in the text:
I think the Psalms should be read to young children more than once without any comment, unless a child asks for explanation. Most children love the sound and the word-pictures of the Psalms, long before they can take in the full meaning.
I am aware that there is much repetition of the same ideas in the comments on the Psalms. The same moral lessons may be drawn from, and the same explanations are applicable to, many different