In Psalm 126, we have two parallel verses, "Then they said among the nations: "The Lord did great things for these."The Lord did great things for us.We were glad (v. 3-4)."The news of the great things G-D did for us spread to the nations, who proclaimed "the Lord did great things for the children of Zion."The Da’at Mikra understands "the Lord did great things for these" as an expression of contempt.The nations are shocked by the fact that Hashem did great things for the Jewish nation, a nation seen as contemptible.The children of Israel then respond: "The Lord did great things for us."We repeat the same words as if to say, "You have indeed spoken the truth.Hashem has and does great things for us."The latter half of the verse, "we were glad", parallels the words-"we were like those who dream" at the beginning of the psalm.Initially we were like dreamers, but after hearing the words of the nations we realized that this was not a dream but a reality.We have been validated by hearing confirmation by our enemies who have no reason to distort the truth in our favor.If they can see Hashem’s goodness on our behalf, then we are surely glad.
The psalmist requests of Hashem, "Bring back our return, O Lord, like the streams in the south (Psalm 126:4)."This verse parallels the first verse, "when the Lord brought back the return of Zion."The double expression "bringing back the return" alludes to the restoration of a formerly good situation.The psalmist asks that just as G-D has done good deeds for us in the past, may He continue doing great things for us in the future.Alternatively, the psalmist is affirming that G-D has begun the return, and asking that He complete the redemption, finishing what He has begun.The streams in the south are dry for most of the year, becoming suddenly full from powerful downpours and storms.In similar fashion, we ask that Hashem bring the good upon us suddenly.We, who are experiencing the dryness of our exile, seek the sudden good that Hashem can bring.Sudden and unexpected good restores faith and bolsters our commitment to serving Hashem and keeping His Torah.
"I was young and now am old, yet I have not seen [raiti] the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread (Psalm 37:25)." This verse has been questioned many times, and is even omitted by some from the Grace After Meals. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks offers an explanation from Rabbi Moshe Feuerstein of Boston. Rabbi Feuerstein translates the word "raiti" in accordance with its usage in Megillat Esther: "Eichachah uchal v'raiti b'raah asher yimtzah et ami, v'eichachah uchal v'raiti b'avdan moladiti; How can I bear to watch the disaster which will befall my people? And how can I bear to watch the destruction of my family (Esther 8:6)?" The verb then does not mean "to see", but instead to "stand by passively and witness." It implies the act of watching and not doing. This, according to Esther and to David, is impossible from a moral point of view. As Jews, we are our brother's keeper. This verse then translates into an ethical statement: "I was young and now am old, yet I have not stood still and watched when the righteous was forsaken and his children forced to beg for bread." During Pesach, we enact this statement by inviting all who are hungry to join us for a meal, and all who are in need to come and celebrate Pesach with us.
"Come, let us bow down and bend the
knee, let us kneel [nivrecha] before the Lord our maker. For He is our
G-D, and we are the people of His pasture and the flock of His hand. O that
today you would hearken to His voice (Psalm 95:6-7)." The psalmist exhorts us
to "come" to the Beit HaMikdash. Upon arriving, we were to bow down and bend
the knee. Bowing down means to prostrate oneself upon the ground, spreading out
the hands and feet with the face toward the ground. Bending the knee refers to
resting one's calves upon the ground while holding one's upper body erect. In
general, bending the knee precedes bowing down. However, upon entering the
Beit HaMikdash, the individual would first bow down completely, demonstrating
his complete loyalty and submission to Hashem resident in His sanctuary. They
then raise themselves up, keeping their calves upon the ground and pray from
that position. The word "nivrecha" may also be translated as "let us
bless", such that the verse would read- "let us bless before the Lord our
maker." What is the reason for our bowing and kneeling before G-D? We have
our answer: "For He is our G-D, and we are the people of His pasture and
the flock of His hands." Although Hashem rules over the entire universe, He is
ours in particular. He is our shepherd, attending to our every need. With our
acknowledgment of Hashem's care and concern comes our concomitant responsibility
to listen to His voice. Just as sheep take direction from their shepherd, we
must take direction from G-D, fulfilling His commandments.
"O G-D [Elokim], be not far from me; O my G-D [Elokai], make haste to help me (Psalm 71:12)." Rav Hirsch explains that David is asking G-D to remain in close contact with him despite the fact that he has transgressed. David, aware of the seriousness of his sins, nonetheless appeals to "Elokai, my G-D"- the G-D with whom he has forged a close relationship from his youth. He appeals to his Hashem, who has trained him from his earliest years and who has crowned him king, to once again restore him after he has atoned for his mistakes. David not only requests Divine assistance but he asks that Hashem make haste to come to his rescue. David is the essential human, who models the path of return and repentance. There is always a return for the person who feels connected to his G-D as long as he is interested in maintaining and sustaining that connection.
Reprinted with permission from Rachel Lerner 2008
"Then I will not be ashamed, when I gaze upon all Your commandments (Psalm 119:6)." Why would anyone feel ashamed in gazing upon Hashem's commandments? Is David implying that there is something shameful about G-D's word? David is instead teaching us an important psychological truth. When we have a job to do and fail to complete or even begin it, the very sight of the task causes us distress. When we read of a resolution unfulfilled or barely begun, we feel a sense of shame. David, gazing upon Hashem's commandments, is not ashamed nor is he distressed, for he has fulfilled the commandments. He has behaved in accordance with G-D's will, and has used his potential well and in the service of Hashem and his people.
reprinted with permission from Rachel Lerner, 2008
"Trust in Him at all times, people; pour
out your hearts before Him: G-D is a refuge for us, Selah (Psalm 62:9)." The
Malbim explains that this verse details the three advantages that "trust in G-D"
has over "trust in others." One cannot trust in another individual for all
things at all times; trust is given sparingly and specifically. A man may know
to trust someone in good times, but go elsewhere when times are hard. But G-D
may be trusted at all times; He may be relied upon for all things. Secondly,
while we may trust another, we are cautious not to reveal all our secrets to
that person. Our self-interest dictates that we disclose only what is
necessary to obtain assistance. But with Hashem, we have the freedom to
disclose all, to pour out our hearts before Him. We can and should "let go and
let G-D." Thirdly, trusting in another human limits us to trusting for the
moment. Trusting in Hashem gives us a refuge, a place of safety for each moment
and every circumstance. In G-D we trust, and this trust continually cares,
comforts, and cherishes us.
Psalm 110 describes David in all the splendor of his dual role as king of the Jewish people. David was the mighty warrior, subduing the enemy with his fierce fighting. But David was spiritual leader as well, winning the hearts and souls of his people through his music and the power of his word. Psalm 110 views the latter mission as the more important. "To David. A Psalm. The Lord said to my master: "Wait at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool (v. 1)." Rav Hirsch explains that David has discharged his duty as conquering soldier; G-D will complete the task, bringing David's enemies to heel. David must now turn his focus to the task of spiritually energizing and leading his people, bringing them ever closer to Hashem.
"My name is Rina (this is not her real name), and I live in Gush Etzion.
A few months ago, when I was in my car, riding towards Gush Etzion, there
was a serious traffic jam. When I reached the Gush, I saw the reason for
the heavy traffic--there had been an accident, and cars were standing in
the road. Out of curiosity, I looked quickly to see what had happened. I
was startled to see a completely smashed car blocking the road, with a
body lying on the road, covered with a sheet.
"I wonder who the poor
dead person might be, I thought to myself. Is it a single person or somebody
married, somebody with a family or not, a man or a woman? Will there now be
new orphans or perhaps bereaved parents who do not yet know what has
happened? I got out of my car and took out a book of Tehillim, and I prayed
with flowing tears and with great devotion. After a little while, the traffic
started to move. I returned to my car and went home as fast as I
"Two weeks later, I was sitting at home, and the phone rang. At
the other end of the line, I heard an unfamiliar voice of a young woman. She
asked, 'Are you the one who stopped on Tuesday two weeks ago at the side of
the road and read Tehillim?' 'Yes, I am,' I replied, wondering what
the question meant. And the girl continued in a voice choked by
tears. 'Listen, I am the girl who was lying on the road. Everybody was sure
that I was dead, and that is why they covered me with a sheet and waited for
the ambulance. I lay there and experienced what is called "clinical death."
As it were, my soul left my body, and I was able to see everything around
me, from above. I saw my smashed car, the people who ran around the scene,
and the long line of cars. I could even see my own body, covered with a
sheet, lying on the road. When you started to read the Tehillim, all the
letters flew around me, giving me a misty feeling and pulling me downwards.
At that moment, a Magen David ambulance arrived, and the medics decided to
try to revive me. They tried again and again, in an attempt to start my
breathing and to get my heart pumping again. All that time I felt the letters
of the Tehillim wrapped around me in a pleasant light, bringing my spirit
back to me. The fact that you read Tehillim saved my life, and I am calling
to say thank you!'
"There was nothing I could say. I was completely
speechless. Before this, I had no idea about the great power of prayer and
what could be achieved by reading Tehillim. And I still did not understand
how this anonymous woman knew who I was.
"It turns out that she had
not been religious at all. After this amazing event, she repented (no
surprise at all!), and she repeatedly tries to convince people to read
Tehillim. Of course, she recites Tehillim herself. After the accident, she
asked many of her friends if they had been at the scene and if they had seen
somebody reciting Tehillim. Somehow she found my name, and it was then easy
for her to get other details, including my phone number.
these events I cannot stop thinking about my amazing experience. One can
never know whom she is rescuing by reading Tehillim. Let us all recite
Tehillim regularly, at least five minutes every day. The Almighty is sitting
high above, waiting for us, His children, to ask for what we need. And He,
the merciful Father, is always ready to give it to us and to forgive us for
We live in the darkness of the exile where Hashem’s presence is hidden. In
darkness, vision is compromised and perception limited. To see in the dark, the
eye must adapt, undergoing changes in the rods and cones. The eye takes
approximately thirty minutes to fully adapt from bright sunlight to complete
darkness. As a people, we have moved from the bright light of Hashem’s manifest
presence in the Temple periods to the darkness of our current exile. Our
ability to see Hashem in this darkness requires both patience and a visual
adjustment. "A Song of Ascents. Behold, bless Hashem all you servants of
Hashem who stand in the House of Hashem in the nights (Psalm 134:1)." We are
the servants of G-D standing in His House in the night of our exile. David
exhorts us to remain Hashem’s servants, doing His work wherever and whenever we
can. He enjoins us to remain standing in Hashem’s House, in our temples and
our synagogues, patiently waiting for the darkness to lift and the redemption to
Today, the 27th of Shvat is the Yom Kippur Katan for Adar.
Please join the worldwide effort to say tehillim each month on the Yom Kippur Katan (Erev Rosh Chodesh)by saying tehillim tonight (Wednesday February 14th) or Thursday.
This effort is in cooperation with ANEINU tehillim groups and the network of women's tehillim groups in Eretz Yisrael. For further information, please email Key Tffila
13th of Tevet, January 3, 2007
"Tremble before Him, all (peoples of) the earth (Psalm 96:9)." Who must tremble before G-D? All people of the earth must tremble before G-D, Creator of heaven and earth. But this verse may be interpreted differently. The individual who trembles does so from fear- fear of punishment and of negative consequences. Who is this fearful individual? It is the person who is " of the earth", who is attached to all things material and physical. Such an individual is governed by his needs and wants; he is hostage to his own desires. Because he is immersed in the physical world, he is profoundly disconnected from Hashem and from his own spirituality. He trembles with terror at having lost his soul connection to G-D, fearful of the consequences that will ensue.
Tehillim thoughts composed by Rachel Lerner. Reprinted with permission of Rachel Lerner. To contact Rachel, click here
"You led Your nation like a flock, by the hand of Moshe and Aharon (Psalm 77:21)." Who is qualified to be a leader of Israel? David gives us the answer in this verse- an individual with the qualities of Moshe and Aharon. Moshe’s singular quality was humility and humbleness, despite his greatness. The Torah testifies to Moshe’s humility in Bamidbar 12:3 [numbers], "And the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more than any other person on the face of the earth." Moshe, who ascended to Heaven to receive the Tablets, knew his place in the cosmic scheme. He was not humble at the expense of self, but aware of his flaws and limitations. A true leader must be cognizant of his strengths, and even more aware of his weaknesses. Such a leader will seek guidance when necessary, and be empathic to the vulnerabilities and failures of his people.
The second quality of a leader is the quality embodied by Aharon, the Cohen. In Pirkei Avot 1:12, Aharon is described as "loving peace and pursuing peace." Aharon invested his considerable intellect and talents in promoting peace. He sought to reconcile people, to assist individuals in bridging their differences and acting in unison. A nation divided is weak at its core. Today, we are witness to the divisive effects of lack of unity. We need leadership that can unite us, for we are only strong when we are strong together.
Tehillim thoughts composed by Rachel Lerner. Reprinted with permission of Rachel Lerner. To contact Rachel, click here.
Sunday Oct. 9, Zayin Tishrei, Women's Tehllim gatherings , some large, some small, will be held world-wide.
Zayin Tishrei was the day that the wicks were made for the menorah in the Bais Hamikdash. if you can gather your group on that Sunday, join with other groups in your area that Sunday, you will be davening with women from all over the world.
This effort is sponsored by ANEINU Worldwide tehillim for women, KEY, and the International Network of Women's tehillim groups in Israel. It is with the knowledge and bracha of Gedolei Yisrael.
We are going to say one kappitel (chapter of tehillim) for a week, as a [blue]zechus[/blue] that Hashem should help ourselves and our community in the coming year to [blue]increase in tzniyus[/blue]!
join us in saying [blue]kappitel aleph [/blue](tehillim chapter one) for a week, starting whenever you read this message.
At a wedding, Chupah time is Eht Ratzon - When praying for the couple and wishing them good wishes at that time, PLEASE don't forget to pray for Israel as well.
Please pray for a UNITED Israel. For an Israel that is JEWISH. For an Israel that has the right leadership that follows moral and Torah laws. For an invincible Israel.
Tonight, the fifth of Av. (Tuesday night and Wednesday day), is the yarzeit of R Yitzhak Luria, the ARI Hakadosh, master kabbalist and teacher of the Zohar.
May the merit of the ARI HaKadosh protech us all.