Archive for December 2013

Tehillim 119:7

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 · Posted in , , , , ,

Tehillim 119:7 odcha beisher levav belamdi mishpetei tzidkecha
I will give thanks to You with an upright heart, when I learn Your just ordinances.

Until here King David spoke in praise of the Torah.  From here on it is in praise of the mitzvot (commandments).

"I will give thanks to You with an upright heart," unlike those about whom it says, 'His mouth speaks and Him, but their heart is far from Him' (cf. Yeshayahu 29:13).  Thus we "learn" from "Your just ordinances" that everything depends on intention.  Hence the law of the city of refuge (BaMidbar 35) teaches that one who kills deliberately is executed, and one who kills unwittingly is exiled.

Because I have trained myself to accept "Your just ordinances," therefore "I give thanks to You" both for the good and for the bad, "with an upright heart."  As our Sages have said, one is required to recite the blessing (also for the bad) with gladness.  Thus Hillel once heard a voice of loud lament coming from his city, and he said, "I am certain that these are not my family lamenting."  This is explained to mean that he had educated his family to accept everything with gladness and to not shriek.

Torah is the antidote for the yetzer harah (evil inclination).  Torah study subdues the yetzer harah.

Tehillim 119:6
Tehillim 119:5
Tehillim 119:4
Tehillim 119:3
Tehillim 119:2
Tehillim 119:1

MeAm Lo'ez
Chazal

Tehillim 119:6

Wednesday, December 25, 2013 · Posted in , , , , ,

Tehillim 119:6 az lo evosh behabiti el kol mitzvoteicha
Then I will not be ashamed, when I look at all your commandments.

If I will "observe Your statutes" (v119:5), I will also observe Your ordinances.  As a result, when I open up the Torah and study it closely, "I will not be ashamed" that I did not keep "all Your commandments."

However, when one realizes that some aspect of his behavior is not in accordance with G-d's precepts, he should be filled with great shame for betraying his Creator and Father.  Moreover, he has betrayed himself and fallen short of his true potential.

If I will find a good reason for keeping the statutes, and subject myself to their observance, then I will assuredly "not be ashamed."  I will stand up to the prosecuting angel, "when I look at all Your commandments." For I will behold the reasons for all of them.

If I will keep the mitzvot, "then I will not be ashamed, when I look at all Your commandments."  For instance, if someone steals and then he sees written in the Torah, "You shall not steal!" (Shemot 20:13), he will be ashamed.  Therefore should every man be wary of every evil deed, so as not to be ashamed when he reads the Torah.

It was Rambam's custom to begin each of his works by citing a pasuk (verse). One such example is his introduction to the Mishneh Torah (as well as at the outset of each of the fourteen books that comprise the Mishne Torah). The verse used to introduce the Mishneh Torah is "Az lo evosh b'habiti el kol mitzvotecha" "Then I will not be ashamed, when I look at all Your commandments" (Tehillim 119:6). This verse serves as a "motto" that encapsulates the entire Mishneh Torah.

This verse teaches us that there is a supreme added value to having the Torah in its entirety laid out before us. Thus the Rambam in the Mishneh Torah summarizes the entire Oral Torah. The Midrash describes to us the shame one might feel upon reaching the Gates of Paradise without having learned all the sections of the Torah. By laying out the Oral Torah before us, the Rambam is assisting us in avoiding this very shame. (Rav Y. Steinberger)

Tehillim 119:5
Tehillim 119:4
Tehillim 119:3
Tehillim 119:2
Tehillim 119:1


MeAm Lo'ez
Chazal
Sefer Tehillim - Schottenstein Edition

Tehillim 119:5

Sunday, December 22, 2013 · Posted in , , , ,

Tehillim 119:5 achalai yikonu derachai lishmor chukeicha
My hopes: that my ways be directed to observe Your statutes!

"My hopes" - these are my pleas that I place before You: "That my ways be directed" so I should also "observe Your statues" whose reason elude us.

"[These are] my [fervent] prayers (hopes)," I desire nothing else but this. (Ibn Ezra)

Because the reasons for the statutes are not known, ha-satan and the other peoples condemn us.  But I say: "My hopes" and pleas are "that my ways be directed to observe Your statues" as well.

The mitzvah must be made possessions of the soul.  Therefore, I plead and petition that "my ways be directed to observe Your statutes."  Let none of my mundane affairs beset me.  I implore You to protect me from the diversions of the world, so that my heart and being are free "to observe Your statutes."

Let "my ways be directed to observe Your statutes." Let them not be directed towards bodily needs or towards any other diversion.

R’ Shmuel Shmelke Güntzler z”l (1838-1911; rabbi of Oyber-Visheve, Hungary for 45 years) writes: We read in Tehilim (119:5-6), “My prayer is: ‘May my ways be firmly guided to keep Your decrees; then I will not be ashamed when I gaze at all your commandments’.” In these verses, King David is noting the tension between our obligation to try to understand G-d’s Will, on the one hand, and our duty to serve Him as subjects, i.e., not because we understand or approve of His mitzvot but simply because they are His commandments. How can a person evaluate whether he is serving Hashem for the right reason (as a subject) or the wrong reason (because the person has evaluated the mitzvot and decided they make sense to him, in which case he is serving himself, not G-d)?

The answer is that one should look at how he performs those mitzvot that do not seem to be logical. If a person performs the decrees with the same enthusiasm with which he performs the “logical” mitzvot, then he knows that he is behaving as a subject. This is what King David meant: If I am firm in my commitment to Your decrees, then I will not be ashamed when I perform the “logical” commandments. Rather, I will know that those mitzvot, as well, I am performing as a subject and not because they make sense to me. (Meishiv Nefesh)

Tehillim 119:4
Tehillim 119:3
Tehillim 119:2
Tehillim 119:1


MeAm Lo'ez
Chazal

Tehillim 119:4

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 · Posted in , , , ,

Tehillim 119:4 atah tzivitah fikudeicha lishmor meod
You have ordained Your commands, that we should observe them diligently.

King David now goes on to explain why the Holy One has commanded that we fulfill 613 Mitzvot.   If when we simply "do no wrong," we also "walk in His ways" (v119:3).  Why has the Holy One commanded that we fulfill 613 mitzvot?  The answer is, "You have ordained Your commands, that we should observe them diligently."  When there are many mitzvot to keep, there are always occasions for performing any number of them!

It is "that we should observe them diligently" in order to make them part of our souls.  Thereafter, we will perform them with heart and soul.



Tehillim 119:3
Tehillim 119:2
Tehillim 119:1


MeAm Lo'ez
Chazal

Tehillim 119:3

Saturday, December 14, 2013 · Posted in , , ,

Tehillim 119:3 af lo faalu avlah bidrachav halakhu
Yes, they do no wrong; they walk in His ways.

Those who earnestly follow G-d's precepts receive special Divine assistance to avoid doing any iniquity.

"Those who seek" the Torah "with the whole heart" (v119:2), will merit to "do no wrong" any time.  All their lives they will "walk in His ways."  For the one who comes to purify himself is helped from on high.

"Happy are they whose way is integrity" (v119:1) refers to those who have merited not only to "do no wrong," but also to keep the affirmative mitzvot through actual performance.  Thus it says, "Happy are they who" actually "walk in His ways" (ibid.).  They not only "depart from evil" (v34:15), but "do good" (ibid.).  If, however, they only commit no transgressions and "do no wrong," that is not enough.  It is also necessary that "they" actively "walk in His ways."


Tehillim 119:2
Tehillim 119:1



-MeAm Lo'ez
-Schottenstein Sefer Tehillim

Tehillim 119:2

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 · Posted in , , , ,

Tehillim 119:2  Ashrei notzrei edotav bechol-lev yidreshuhu
Happy are they who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart.

Throughout this psalm "testimonies" refers to the Torah and mitzvot, which bear testimony to G-d's relationship with the Jewish nation.

Two conditions are required for the proper performance of the mitzvot.  One must actually perform any given mitzvah, and do so with the proper conscious intent.  One without the other amounts to nothing.  Thus the Scripture says here, "Happy are they who keep His testimonies" in fact, and "who seek Him with the whole heart."

"Seek Him with the whole heart."  Our Sages have expounded similarly, "Drink thirstily their words."  One must keep probing in the Torah ever deeper, and also exile oneself to a place of Torah study.

It is further indicated that one "whose way is integrity" (v119:1) merits to possess wisdom, and he expounds the Torah "with the whole heart."  It is otherwise for the one who is not of upright heart.  Thus the present verse in effect explains the previous verse, in that only those are "happy" (ibid. "who seek Him with the whole heart."

The Midrash says, "Happy are they who keep His testimonies."  If you keep the Torah, then the Torah keeps (guards) you.  This it says, "Love her, and she will keep you" (Mishlei 4:6); and it says, "When you walk, she will lead you" (ibid. 6:22)

Tehillim 119:1




- MeAm Lo'ez
- Chazal


Tehillim 119:1

Sunday, December 8, 2013 · Posted in , , , ,

Tehillim [Psalms] 119

King David composed this psalm as a prayer for success in matters of the spirit and for completeness in Torah achievement.  He arranged the verse in alphabetical order, eight verses to every letter.  It was also David's intention to strengthen the hand of those who study Torah, to help them persevere and overcome all trials. (MeAm Lo'ez)

Each 176 verses of Tehillim 119 (except verse 122) contains at least one synonym for Torah.  Verse 122 contains the word tov (good) which some explain to refer to Torah as well.

In Sefer Avodat Hakodesh, by the Chida, it is written:  Let everyone strive to complete every week the eight-fold chapter of the Book of Psalms.  This is an auspicious prescription for avoiding all harm and loss.  He lists the verse to be recited on different days, together with the different plsams that follows the present psalm.

On the first day of the week (Sunday):  the verses beginning with the letters א׳ ב׳ ג׳, plus Tehillim 120, 121, 124.

Second day (Monday): the verses beginning with ד׳ ה׳ ו׳, plus Tehillim 122, 123, 124.

Third day (Tuesday): the verses beginning with ז׳ ח׳ ט׳, plus Tehillim 125, 126, 127.

Fourth day (Wednesday): the verses beginning with י׳ כ׳ ל׳, plus Tehillim 128, 129, 130.

Fifth day (Thursday): the verses beginning with מ׳ נ׳ ס׳, plus Tehillim 129, 130, 124.

Sixth day (Friday): the verses beginning with ע׳ פ׳ צ׳, plus Tehillim 131, 132.

Shabbat (7th day - Saturday): the verses beginning with ק׳ ר׳ ש׳ ת׳, plus Tehillim 133, 134.




Tehillim 119:1 Ashrei temimei darech haholchim betorat HASHEM
Happy are they whose way is perfect [integrity] who walk with the Torah of HASHEM.



Yosef Karduner singing "Ashrei Temimei Darech & Likutei Moharan Book 1 Chapter 1"



Translation of song:

Happy are they whose way is perfect [integrity] who walk with the Torah of HASHEM

Know! That through the Torah are received all the prayers and all the requests that we request and pray for.  And the grace and the importance of Yisrael is elevated and soars whatever it is that they need.  Whether in spiritual things or in physical things.

Happy are they whose way is perfect [integrity] who walk with the Torah of HASHEM.

Because now through our great sins, [the] beauty and true importance of Yisrael has fallen.  Because now the main portion of the beauty and the importance is found by them.  But by means of the Torah are raised the beauty and importance of Yisrael.  Because the Torah is called "Let her be as the loving doe and graceful deer."  Because [the Torah] bestows beauty [grace] on all those who learn it.  And through this is received all the prayers and requests.

Happy are they whose way is perfect [integrity] who walk with the Torah of HASHEM.

"Happy are they" who walk in the "way" that brings one to completeness and integrity and not to condemnation; "who walk with the Torah of HaShem."

As our Sages have taught: Anyone whose fear of G-d precedes his wisdom, his wisdom endures.

King David extols the quality of integrity, when he says, "I was upright before Him, and have kept myself from my iniquity" (Shmuel bet 22:24).  For one who conducts himself with integrity does not sin readily.  As David says, When I am upright "before Him" - when I am along with Him, and no other human being sees me - I keep "myself from my iniquity."  This he also says, "I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart" (v101:2)

Similarly, King Shlomo says, "The just man walks with his integrity; happy are his children after him" (Mishlei 20:7).  If his children are happy for his sake, then he is certainly happy.

The Holy One asked of Avraham to be "upright" (Bereishit 17:1).  Similarly, Moshe said to the Benei Yisrael, "You will be upright with HaShem your G-d" (Devarim 18:13).  That is, if you are upright, then you are with HaShem your G-d.

Yisrael is upright and the Torah is upright.  Hence it says here, "Happy are those whose way is integrity."

Shlomo also says, "He who walks with integrity walks surely" (Mishlei 10:9).  The one who walks with integrity, will be informed with the glad tiding that G-d will make his ways successful.  "But he who perverts his ways will be found out" (ibid.).  Generally, whatever has two ways become known in the world.

When one walks with integrity, the Holy One chooses him and his worship.  Thus it says, "He that walks in a way of integrity, he will minister to Me" (v101.6); and it says, "You will be upright with HaShem your G-d" (Devarim 18:13).

When one walks with an upright heart in all his ways, he merits to dwell in the company of the Almighty.  As it says, "Who will sojourn in Your Tent?  Who will dwell upon the mountain of Your Sanctuary?  He that walks uprightly and acts justly, and speaks truth in his heart" (15:1, 2)

Similarly, King David has extolled here those who walk with integrity.


What is Integrity?

A man should utter his words without deceit; he should trade without cheating; and his heart and mouth be the same.  For if a man says one thing with the mouth and another with the heart, not only is he not called upright, he is a flatterer and a liar.  As it says, "Deceit is in the heart of those who imagine evil..." (Mishlei 12:20).

It is of the quality of integrity that a person is charitable towards other people. As it says, "Charity keeps him that is upright in the way" (ibid. 13:6).

When one walks with integrity, the Holy One helps him do his work and He causes him to become upright in all his ways.  As it says, "With the merciful You show Yourself merciful, with the upright man You show Yourself upright" (v18:26).

"Happy are they whose way is integrity."  Their integrity is not a result of their temperament, but it is because they "walk with the Torah of HaShem."

It is not possible to follow the path of integrity unless all of one's deeds are for the sake of Heaven, there are no ulterior motives.

"Integrity" must itself be in accordance with G-d's will.  For it is only from the Torah that we know how and when to act with integrity.  Thus our Sages say, commenting on the verse, "Yaakov was an upright man, dwelling in tents" (Bereishit 25:27):  He ruled his integrity.

When does a man know that his way is upright?  It is when he keeps G-d's commandments even while on the way (road).  It about such people as these that the Scritpure says, "Happy are they  whose way is integrity, who walk with the Torah of HaShem."

Most of the present psalm speak in the second person singular, and only the first three verses are in the remote third person form.  David pleaded and petitioned in prayer that the Holy One favor him with knowledge, understanding and intelligence.  Accordingly, he opened with the first three verses that convey the conditions for granting these three things.  One is Torah study, since an ignorant person cannot have fear of G-d.  The second condition is to "depart from evil and do good" (v34:15).  The third condition is to keep perfecting oneself in Torah study daily through constant acquisition of new knoweldge.

That is the process of walking "with the Torah of HaShem."  A person will not merit to study Torah except if he empties his heart of the empty pursuits of the world and is convinced that this world is only a way-station.  Nor is it possible to fulfill the mitzvot perfectly except by knowing the Torah and the foundation of the commandments.



- MeAm Lo'ez
- Schottenstein Sefer Tehillim
- Stone Edition Tanach


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